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CRESCENT ON TURKISH FLAG IS NOT A SYMBOL OF ISLAM

An Associated Press article in the April 8 News said that an unprecedented number of faiths were drawn to the funeral of Pope John Paul II. Turkey is a Sunni Muslim country that believes in Jesus as one of our prophets. It also has a large Christian community. The article said: "Turkey's flag, which features the crescent, a symbol of Islam, will fly at half staff to honor the pope."

Turkey's flag is not a symbol of Islam. As the story goes, on the last day of World War II, Turkey was freed from occupiers. That night, Ataturk, father of the country, stood on a hillside thinking how many Turkish lives had been lost. At the bottom of the hill was a creek. The night was bright. When he looked down, he saw the moon and one star shining into the creek full of Turkish soldiers' blood. At that minute, he decided that this was to be the democratic Turkish flag -- a white half moon with one star (looking to the right) over a red background. Most Muslim countries have a moon and star in their flags, but looking to the left.

Turkey is a democratic country. Our people are proud of their religion, but our flag is not a symbol of the religion we belong to, it is a gift to us from our father Ataturk.

Nurhan J. Giampaolo

Orchard Park