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Police detain Turks protesting Pope at Aya Sofya

Written by: Staff

ISTANBUL, Nov 22 (Reuters) Turkish police today detained 39 men occupying the world renowned Aya Sofya museum in a noisy protest against the visit by Pope Benedict to Turkey next week, state-run Anatolian news agency reported.

Television images showed the men, from a group calling itself ''Alperen Ocaklari'', praying in the 6th Century building, originally a church and subsequently a mosque before being converted into a museum.

Police used tear gas to break up the group as they chanted ''Allahu Akbar'' (God is greatest) and tried to make a statement to protest against the Pope's controversial November 28-December 1 visit to the predominantly Muslim country.

Pope Benedict's visit will include Aya Sofya.

Reuters SP DB2130

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