Erdogan’s speech on anniversary of coup attempt highlights Turkey’s divisions



Sun, 16 Jul 2017 - 09:48 GMT


Sun, 16 Jul 2017 - 09:48 GMT

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan - Reuters

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan - Reuters

WASHINGTON - 16 July 2017: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday used the first anniversary of a coup attempt against his government to accuse his main political opponent of treason and portray civilian resistance to the plot as a triumph of the Muslim faithful, the Washington Post reported on Sunday.

Erdogan’s fiery speech before a huge crowd in Istanbul highlighted the lingering trauma of the failed coup, which killed 250 people over the course of a terrifying night and day of violence.

The speech also showed how the events have become an increasingly important political cudgel for the president and his Islamist supporters, with the victory over the coup plotters seen as a critical part of the government’s popular mandate.

The government has blamed the coup attempt on loyalists of Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric who lives in exile in Pennsylvania.

On that night, authorities said, renegade soldiers loyal to Gulen used tanks, planes and helicopters to occupy or attack television stations and public buildings, including parliament, and were defeated after Erdogan rallied citizens to the streets.

The events provided at least a momentary sense of unity in polarized Turkey: a shared shock and revulsion at the willingness of soldiers to crush people under armored vehicles and strafe crowds from the air with cannon fire.

That unity, though, has dissipated as the government cast a wide net in pursuit of its enemies, sweeping up the failed coup’s alleged accomplices but also dissidents.

The still-murky background to the coup attempt and the staggering number of people caught up in the ensuing crackdown have fueled the apprehension. About 150,000 people have been dismissed or suspended from their jobs, and 50,000 have been arrested.

A state of emergency that gives the government extraordinary powers has remained in effect for almost a year, prompting critics to charge that Erdogan seized on the coup attempt to bolster his power.



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