Turkey: Army will protect country from Islamists

September 25, 2006 22:57

A top Turkish general said Monday that increasingly powerful Islamist forces threatened Turkey's secular system and that the army would play its role in defending the country against them, the state-run news agency reported. General Ilker Basbug's comments appeared aimed at both the Islamic-rooted government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and at EU officials who have repeatedly called on the Turkish military to limit its role in state affairs. The military views itself as the protector of Turkey's secular identity. Fiercely secular generals have directly led three coups since 1961 and ousted a government from power in 1997 for what they saw as an excessive Islamist bent.

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