Turkish Police Arrest 129 Islamist Protestors

ISTANBUL (Reuter)–Turkish police on Tuesday arrested 129 Islamist protesters demonstrating against government plans to curb religious education–state-run Anatolian news agency said.

It said 100 people were detained in the western city of Kocaeli after they resisted police efforts to disperse the demonstration which started after midday prayers.

A further 29 people were arrested in the eastern city of Erzurum following a similar demonstration starting as worshippers emerged from noon prayers at a mosque in the city.

The demonstrators were protesting against government plans to extend compulsory education to eight years from the current five–a move which will effectively close the middle section of religious schools–known as Imam Hatips.The education plan was a key demand in a campaign launched by the military in February against religious activism that helped topple the government of Necmettin Erbakan–Turkey’s first Islamist leader.

Thousands marched through Ankara last week calling for the new secularist government to drop the eight-year education plan.

Eleven people–mostly journalists–were injured in the march.

The Ankara protest was followed by rowdy demonstrations in Istanbul after noon prayers on Friday.

Turkish newspapers said on Tuesday Islamists planned another large march in Ankara on Sunday.

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