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Turkish PM Says He Supports Secular System


Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has expressed support for the country's secular laws, saying that Turkey is a secular state and will remain so.

Opponents of the prime minister have accused him of having a secret Islamist agenda.

Mr. Erdogan says it is a mistake to pit secularism against Islam. He says that he regards secularism as a "guarantee of everyone's lifestyle."

The prime minister spoke Tuesday during a news conference in Istanbul.

On Sunday, more than one million people demonstrated in the western city of Izmir against Mr. Erdogan's Islamist-rooted government.

Secularists accused the ruling A.K. party of attempting to undermine Turkey's secular order.

Mr. Erdogan says his government has done nothing to alter Turkey's secular system during his four-and-a-half years in power.

The protest was the latest by secularists in the run up to July 22 parliamentary elections.

Prime Minister Erdogan called the early vote after parliament failed to elect his party's nominee for president, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.
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