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    Monday, November 27, 2006

    The ignorant and sneaky pope

    A Turkish woman, wearing a headband that reads:"The ignorant and sneaky pope who insulted Islam and our Prophet should not come to Turkey", chants Islamic slogans during an anti-pope rally in Istanbul, Turkey, Sunday, Nov. 26, 2006.

    The protest crowd estimates were given as "thousands" to as high as 25,000
    from different sources. Quite a large turnout for what for them is a normal work


    Tens of thousands of protesters denounced Pope Benedict XVI as an enemy of Islam at a rally that highlighted the deep strains in Turkey before hosting the pontiff this week: Officials hoping to promote their Western-looking goals, while pro-Islamic groups unite in anger.

    Chants of "No to the pope!" rose among the nearly 25,000 demonstrators Sunday at every mention of the pope's remarks on violence and the Prophet Muhammad. Many protesters wore headbands with anti-pope slogans and waved placards that included a depiction of Benedict as the grim reaper.

    The protest, organized by an Islamist political party, was the largest mass gathering so far against Benedict's four-day visit scheduled to begin Tuesday -- his first papal journey to a mostly Muslim nation. The outcry also was designed to rattle Turkey's establishment.

    "The pope is not wanted here," said Kubra Yigitoglu, 20, who attended the rally in a head scarf, ankle-length coat and cowboy boots.

    Nearby, a large banner was raised amid a sea of red flags of the Saadet, or Felicity, party. It called the Vatican "a source of terror."

    Nearly 4,000 police, including units in full riot guard, watched over the protest. Surveillance helicopters buzzed overhead and protesters were frisked before entering the square in a conservative stronghold of Istanbul.


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