Turkey Republic Day rally goes ahead despite ban

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Turkey Republic Day rally goes ahead despite ban

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Protests to mark the 89th anniversary of the founding of modern Turkey have turned violent.

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of the capital Ankara for a Republic Day rally despite an official ban.

Police used tear gas and water cannon to break up protests by pro-secular demonstrators, critical of current Islamic-leaning government.

Many waved Turkish flags and posters of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk who founded the secular republic in 1923.

Nearly 3,500 officers were deployed.

Official celebrations included a ceremony at Ataturk’s mausoleum where President Abdullah Gul laid a wreath.

Later, he was joined by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other leaders for a military parade.

The Republic of Turkey was founded on October 29 1923 from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire which fell apart during the first World War.

The country is often seen as a symbol of democracy between Europe and the Middle East.