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After decades of debate, Turkey starts building mosque in Istanbul square

By Melih Aslan and Osman Orsal

ISTANBUL, Feb 17 (Reuters) Construction began today of a mosque in Istanbul's central Taksim square, a controversial project championed by Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan but mired in years of court battles and public debate.
Cranes moved into the site and first cement was poured at a modest ground-breaking ceremony on the edge of the square, long a rallying point for demonstrations, as riot police with armoured vehicles and water cannon stood guard.
The square was at the heart of large anti-government protests in June 2013, when hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to protest a plan to build a replica Ottoman barracks on the adjoining Gezi park.
Plans for a mosque at Taksim have been discussed for decades, with supporters arguing there are not enough Muslim places of worship close to one of the city's busiest hubs.
"As someone who spent his life in Taksim, I have always felt the lack of a mosque here," Ahmet Misbah Demircan, mayor of the surrounding Beyoglu district, said at the ceremony. "I know that all Muslims who live in or come to Beyoglu share this feeling."
Erdogan, himself a devout Muslim who served as mayor of Istanbul in the 1990s, has long argued for a mosque at Taksim.
But opponents see the project as an attempt to stamp a more religious identity on a square that includes a monument to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of the modern secular republic.
They have long accused Erdogan and Turkey's mildly Islamist ruling AK Party of trying to roll back Ataturk's legacy, a charge they deny.
Some residents of Taksim suggested the timing of the construction might be meant to rally Erdogan's supporters ahead of an April referendum on boosting his powers.
"The timing of this is deliberate and I don't find that very ethical," said one resident, Dincer, declining to give his family name for fear of publicly criticising Erdogan.
The cost of the project has not been disclosed. Demircan was quoted as saying by Haberturk newspaper that it was going to be funded by a private construction company.
REUTERS CJ PM2056
Top News
Those with evil designs will be taught befitting lessons by our soldiers if they cross the line: Naidu

Those with evil designs will be taught befitting lessons by our soldiers if they cross the line: Naidu

New Delhi, July 23 (UNI) Issuing a warning to Pakistan for aiding and abetting terror, NDA nominee for Vice Presidential poll Venkaiah Naidu today said that if those with evil designs and ulterior motives cross the line, they would be taught "befitting lessons" by our brave soldiers.

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23 Jul 2017 | 3:52 PM
Path for Ram Temple at Ayodhya will be cleared before 2019 LS polls: Sakshi

Path for Ram Temple at Ayodhya will be cleared before 2019 LS polls: Sakshi

Vrindavan, Jul 23 (UNI) Controversial BJP MP from Unnao Sakshi Maharaj has unleashed a flurry by announcing here that the NDA government will go to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls after construction work of the much awaited Ram Temple at Ayodhya.

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23 Jul 2017 | 2:42 PM
Charge sheet against Gayatri Prajapati for lodging fake cases against UP IPS officer, wife

Charge sheet against Gayatri Prajapati for lodging fake cases against UP IPS officer, wife

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23 Jul 2017 | 2:37 PM
Constructing  building over roads, Rly tracks-a solution to shrinking urban spaces?

Constructing building over roads, Rly tracks-a solution to shrinking urban spaces?

New Delhi, Jul 23 (UNI) Constructing building in air space over roads, railway tracks and water bodies is the out of the box solution presented before the Union Ministry of Urban development here.

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23 Jul 2017 | 2:51 PM
RERA will hit fly-by-night operators: Key Construction player

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New Delhi, Jul 23 (UNI) Even as the newly enacted the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) Act is a path-breaking and a game changer law; the players and builders need to be cautious as many operators had to pull down their shutters once the law was enforced in Dubai.

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23 Jul 2017 | 3:24 PM
Women's World Cup: Modi wishes 'Best of Luck' to women's team for finals

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New Delhi, Jul 23 (UNI) Prime Minister Narendra today wished Best of Luck to Indian Women's cricket team for the finals against England at Lords.

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23 Jul 2017 | 4:16 PM
UP Assembly to continue till Tuesday; House to condole death of sitting member tomorrow

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23 Jul 2017 | 3:19 PM
Ill management of funds affected CMPFO members  financial health

Ill management of funds affected CMPFO members financial health

23 Jul 2017 | 10:15 AM

New Delhi, Jul 23 (UNI) Non-implementation of recommendation of the actuary led to acute deficit in Pension Fund, incorrect diversion of funds from Provident Fund (PF) account to Pension Fund account, non-adherence to the government’s guidelines for investment fund of own employees have adversely affected the financial interests of the members of the Coal Mines Provident Fund Organisation (CMPFO), the public expenditure watchdog report said.

HIV and cancer teams double up to seek out new disease killers

HIV and cancer teams double up to seek out new disease killers

22 Jul 2017 | 7:11 PM

By Kate Kelland, Health and Science Correspondent LONDON, Jul 22 (Reuters) HIV experts at an international conference starting today are keenly courting colleagues in oncology to explore whether advances in harnessing the immune system against cancer can help the search for a cure for AIDS.

JPCC celebrates 26th death anniversary of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi

21 May 2017 | 6:22 PM

Ranchi, May 21 (UNI) The Jharkhand Pradesh Congress Committee today paid floral tributes to former Prime Minister Bharat Ratna late Rajiv Gandhi on his 26th death anniversary which was celebrated by the party as ‘Shahdat Diwas’.

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