Turkey: Thousands march to denounce Islamic gunman's attack

The Independent
More than 15,000 Turks, from students to judges still in their robes, marched in the capital to support secularism and to condemn a courtroom shooting that killed one judge and wounded four others.
A gunman opened fire on Wednesday inside Turkey's highest administrative court, shouting, "I am a soldier of God". The suspect, now under arrest, claimed his attack was retaliation for a recent ruling against a teacher who wore an Islamic-style headscarf.
Yesterday judicial officials, academics, union leaders, students and workers marched to the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of modern and secular Turkey, in a show of loyalty to secularism. They laid a wreath decorated with red and white carnations, the colours of the Turkish flag. Many carried the flag. Some were tearful, kissing the marble stones of the mausoleum.

"Turkey is secular and it will remain secular," thousands chanted in the demonstration, broadcast live on national television. Thousands also are expected to attend the funeral for Judge Mustafa Yucel Ozbilgin. Among the four wounded, at least one is in intensive care.

The attack has stoked tensions between the secular establishment and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Islamic-rooted government, which has been trying to raise the profile of Islam in this predominantly Muslim but secular country.

By Selcan Hacaoglu in Ankara
Published: 19 May 2006