Cheering supporters wave flags as they listen to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addressing a rally of his Justice and Development Party in Ankara, Turkey, Saturday, March 22, 2014. (AP Photo)
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Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan rallied hundreds of thousands of supporters on Sunday, dismissing accusations of intolerance by Western and domestic critics.Erdogan, tackling a corruption scandal that could damage hisAK Party at local polls next Sunday, used a speech in the western city of Izmit also to announce Turkish forces had shot down a Syrian fighter that had crossed into Turkish air space. Western nations and rights groups have accused Turkey of intolerance for closing down the Twitter networking site over anonymously posted audio tapes that implicate Erdogan in graft.Erdogan, his picture shown on banners across the country, draws heavily on his image as the strong leader Turkey has long lacked.With familiar flourish Erdogan announced to the crowd Turkish forces had shot down a Syrian planeErdogan remains by far the most popular politician and hopes to match or exceed the 40 percent vote AK received at local polls in 2009 .
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