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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 March 2005, 15:35 GMT
Flag-waving frenzy grips Turkey
By Jonny Dymond
BBC News, Istanbul

Flag demonstration
The country has come together to condemn the flag burners
Turkey is in the grip of something close to a flag frenzy - with demonstrations across the country to show support for the Turkish flag.

Trade unions have been handing out flags, and municipalities have been organising flag displays.

The moves follow an attempt to burn a Turkish flag in the south-eastern city of Mersin, during the festival of Newroz earlier this week.

The white crescent and star on a deep red background is a very common sight.

Outside petrol stations, in banks, on local government offices, hanging from residential buildings, the flag of the republic is often seen fluttering.

Effigy burned

But this week's fervour is different. It springs from an attempt by two young men to burn the Turkish flag during the festival of Newroz - a time when Kurdish nationalist passions rise.

As news of the attempt spread, so did the outrage. Nudged by the state broadcasting authority, all the country's television channels are broadcasting with a small Turkish flag in the corner of the screen.

Tens of thousands have attended demonstrations. In the city of Isparta, an effigy of the Kurdish paramilitary leader, Abdullah Ocalan, was burned.

There has always been sensitivity about the flag in Turkey, but there is a new mood in the air. There's been a resurgence in nationalism in the last few months; the passion being shown in public over the flag is one more example of it.

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