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Tuesday, 21 April, 1998, 09:40 GMT 10:40 UK
Thousands protest jail sentence on Mayor of Istanbul

Supporters in Turkey of the pro-Islamic mayor of Istanbul have held a protest demonstration against his conviction on charges of inciting racial and religious hatred.

The mayor, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, told a large crowd outside his headquarters in the city that he would appeal against the verdict.

He was sentenced to ten months' imprisonment for a speech in which he described mosques as barracks, minarets as bayonets, and faithful Muslims as soldiers.

Mr Erdogan denied any provocation or desire to divide the Turkish people.

He will remain free while his appeal is considered.

A BBC correspondent in Turkey says Mr Erdogan, who is a former member of the banned Islamic Welfare Party, was seen as a potential leader of Turkey's Islamist movement, succeeding the former prime minister, Necmettin Erbakan.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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