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Baykal: I can pray and defend Ataturk at the same time

   
NationalThe war of words between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and opposition party leader Deniz Baykal continues. Baykal and other Republican People\'s (CHP) Party members were swift to condemn changes made last week to the new Turkish Penal Code (TCK) which will lessen the punishment for those involved in running and teaching in unauthorized Koran courses.


In response to Baykal\'s very vocal criticisms, Erdogan said to Baykal: \"First you go and pray at the Al-Aqsa mosque, then you oppose people learning the Koran here.\" (The PM was referring to a trip taken by Baykal two weeks ago to Israel, in which he visited the al-Aqsa mosque complex and prayed while there.)

Baykal though has responded to the PM\'s words, saying \"Yes, I can pray at the same place the Prophet Mohammed prayed at, but I can also defend the republic, secularity, and Ataturk. Is one not possible with the other? Does this make you uncomfortable?\"

Baykal went further in his remarks on the proposed changes regarding unauthorized religion courses in the TCK, saying:

\"There are places clearly appointed for religious education in Turkey. Religious faculties, high schools, and special Koran courses sponsored by the Ministry of Religion are opened to anyone who wants. We are just against the brain washing of our little children in darkened basements.\" Baykal went on \"Turkey was a Muslim country before Erdogan was born. And it will continue loving and respecting Ataturk, the state, and the Constitution.\"
  

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