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Language protest turns violent

MALAYSIAN police fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of opposition activists demanding that science and math be taught in the national Malay language, witnesses said.

Language is a sensitive issue for the country's majority Malays and represents the latest political battleground for incoming Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is already facing a challenge from a weakening economy.

More than 5,000 protesters dressed in white marched toward the king's palace in Kuala Lumpur in the protest organized by a coalition of groups, including the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, one of three partners in Anwar Ibrahim's opposition alliance.

The protesters want the government to reverse a policy of teaching math and science in English, put in place by former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad.

The protest comes just weeks before Najib takes over from Abdullah Ahmad Badawi the reins of a country looking to slide into a recession.


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