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AHEAD OF VISIT, PROTESTERS CALL POPE AN ENEMY

About 25,000 protesters denounced Pope Benedict XVI as an enemy of Islam at a rally Sunday in Istanbul that underlined deep divisions straining Turkey ahead of the pontiff's visit this week. Officials hoping to promote closer ties with the West urged calm, but Islamic groups wary of Western ways are united in anger over a speech Benedict gave two months ago in which he quoted a medieval text that linked Islam to violence. The protest, organized by an Islamist political party, was the largest mass gathering so far against Benedict's four-day visit scheduled to begin Tuesday - his first papal journey to a mostly Muslim nation. Turkish officials hope to use the visit to promote their ambitions of becoming the first Muslim nation in the European Union. But Islamic groups see Benedict as a symbol of Western intolerance and injustices against Muslims.

LEBANON

Hezbollah to seek to oust government

A top Hezbollah official said Sunday that the militant Shiite Muslim group will press ahead with threatened street protests seeking to topple the Western-backed government.

The comments by Sheik Naim Kassem came a day after the Cabinet approved a plan for an international tribunal to try suspects in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, overriding objections from Hezbollah and other factions allied with Syria, which many blame for the killing.

Elsewhere

BAHRAIN: Islamist candidates swept to victory in Saturday's parliamentary election, while female and liberal candidates fared poorly in the U.S.-allied kingdom, results showed Sunday.

MEXICO: Leftists protesters trying to force out the Oaxaca state governor set fire to a building Sunday after a night of torching government offices and vehicles in battles with police that injured at least 43 people.

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