ANKARA, March 29 (Reuters) - Police fired water cannon and tear gas at a crowd of several thousand demonstrators protesting for a second day in the Turkish capital on Thursday against an education bill which secular parties say is designed to promote Islamic schooling.
A Reuters witness said protesters threw stones at riot police as they moved in to break up the demonstration after refusing the group's request to march on parliament in the center of Ankara. There were further clashes in side streets.There were no reports of detentions or casualties among protesters, including many civil servants and teachers, at the rally organized by the KESK public workers union confederation.
Parliament is hotly debating a bill overturning a 1997 law, imposed with the backing of the military, which extended compulsory education to eight from five years and stopped under-15s attending religious "imam hatip" schools.
Parliamentarians on Thursday accepted a proposal from Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's AK Party to offer optional courses on the Koran and the Prophet Mohammad's life for middle and upper school pupils - from about 10 to 18 years old.