A demonstrator hold pictures of Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen (R), during a protest against Turkey's ruling AK Party (AKP), in Istanbul December 30, 2013. REUTERS/Osman Orsal
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A call by Turkey's parliament speaker for a new constitution to drop references to secularism provoked opposition condemnation and a brief street protest on Tuesday, potentially undermining government efforts to forge agreement on a new charter.Speaker Ismail Kahraman said late on Monday that overwhelmingly Muslim Turkey needed a religious constitution, a proposal which contradicts the modern republic's founding principles. He later said his comments were "personal views" and that the new constitution should guarantee religious freedoms. The AKP holds 317 of the 550 seats in parliament and would need 330 votes to submit its draft constitution to a referendum.Turkey amended its original 1924 constitution four years later to drop Islam as the official religion of the state.The current constitution does not promote any official religion.Turkey is overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim, but a fifth of its 78 million people is estimated to be Alevi, which draws from Shi'a, Sufi and Anatolian folk traditions. Turkey is also home to about 100,000 Christians and 17,000 Jews.
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