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Farrakhan Says Turkey at Crossroads

February 19, 1996

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) _ Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan says that Turkey must decide whether it wants to have a secular or Islamic government.

Farrakhan was speaking to reporters Sunday before meeting with the leader of a Muslim-based party that won a general election in December but has been unable to form a government.

The Welfare party does not openly advocate Islamic rule, but Turkey’s secularists fear that it intends to. Turkey has been a secular republic since 1923 after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

``The Turkish people will have to decide whether they want to live under the Sharia (Islamic rule) or not,″ Farrakhan said at a news conference before meeting with Welfare party leader Necmettin Erbakan.

``When the people voted for Refah (Welfare) Party they voted with their conscience,″ Farrakhan said.

Farrakhan repeated Sunday that he was exercising his freedom to travel and to speak with whomever he wished. He is touring 18 Muslim countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Before coming to Ankara, he met with the leaders of Sudan, Libya, Iraq, Iran and Syria, countries that the U.S. government contends sponsors international terrorism.

The U.S. Justice Department is looking into whether Farrakhan’s contacts with Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi violated federal laws.

Farrakhan leaves Turkey on Tuesday for Malaysia.

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