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Caliphate Supporters Rally in Istanbul

Members of the Turkish branch of the outlawed Hizb ut-Tahrir rallied in Istanbul Friday, calling for the creation of an Islamic caliphate and denouncing the West.

Some 2,000 supporters marched from Fatih mosque to Sarcaneye Park, both on the European side of the city, waving black banners and chanting "Allahu Akbar" and "Caliphate, Caliphate" as they passed such signs of Western influence as the fast food restaurant Burger King.

Despite the group's legal standing, police did not interfere with the rally.

Hizb ut-Tahrir usually keeps a low profile in Turkey, last holding a pro-Caliphate rally in 2005. The pan-Muslim organization, active in some 50 countries, publicly advocates peaceful change, but has been banned by several nations on suspicions of plotting violent overthrow of non-Islamic governments.

At Friday's rally, Mahmut Kar, a Hizb ut-Tahrir official, read a 25-page statement, condemning Turkey for "illegal activities." He also argued that Western countries are against Islam and consider those trying to establish a caliphate as enemies.

Critics of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accuse his Islamist-rooted AK party of turning a nation founded on secularism toward Islamism.

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