Thousands and thousands take to the streets in Turkey to demonstrate against rising Islamic influence over the government:
About 12,000 Turkish secularists marched in the capital on Saturday to protest against what they see as a rising Islamist influence under Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s government, Anatolian news agency said.
The demonstrators, who represented 112 non-governmental organisations, shouted “Turkey is secular, will remain secular” and “Independent Turkey” and protested against Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has roots in political Islam.
Overwhelmingly Muslim, Turkey is governed by secular laws that separate religion and state.
Since winning 2002 elections, Erdogan’s government has alarmed secularists by promoting an increase of religious schools, seeking to lift a ban on wearing Islamic headscarves in universities and government offices and filling senior government posts with Islamists.
Meanwhile, in Germany, a priest makes a dramatic statement, via the Times of London:
A retired priest committed suicide by setting himself on fire in a German monastery in protest at the spread of Islam and the Protestant Church’s inability to contain it.
Roland Weisselberg, 73, poured a can of petrol over his head and set light to himself in the grounds of the Augustine monastery in the eastern city of Erfurt, where Martin Luther spent six years as a monk at the beginning of the 16th century.
Witnesses said that Weisselberg climbed into a building site next to the monastery church, where a Reformation Day service was being held. He shouted “Jesus and Oskar” before the flames engulfed him. The latter name was an apparent reference to Oskar Brüsewitz, a priest who burnt himself in 1976 in protest against the Communist regime in East Germany. Monastery staff tried to put out the flames and Weisselberg was still conscious as a nun prayed with him before he was taken to hospital. He died a day later, on Wednesday.
Media reports said that he had tried to kill himself inside the church but changed his mind when he found the side door was locked.
The Provost of Erfurt, Elfriede Begrich, told reporters that Weisselberg’s widow had said that he killed himself because he was alarmed at the spread of Islam and the Church’s stance on the issue.
She described Weisselberg as an erudite man who had addressed repeatedly the Church’s position on Islam in meetings over the past three to four years. He had written to her, urging her to take the matter more seriously, she said.
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