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Turks in Europe rally behind Erdogan

Bruce KonviserJuly 16, 2016

Supporters of President Erdogan turned out in a number of European cities to voice their support following the failed coup attempt. German Chancellor Merkel warned Erdogan against engaging in political witch hunts.

Stuttgart türkisches Konsulat UETD
Image: UETD

In the aftermath of an apparent coup attempt against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government, the Union of European Turkish Democrats is holding a series of rallies across Europe Saturday in support of the government.

As many as 20 rallies are planned across the continent, including 10 or so in Germany, which has a large Turkish community.

Details of the coup plot are still emerging but it appears that mid-level members of the military sought to topple the government, which has become increasingly authoritarian, cracking down on journalists, free speech and minorities.

Turkish President Erdogan sits inside a car at Istambul Airport.
Erdogan had been holidaying on the southwest coast when the coup was launchedImage: Reuters/H. Aldemir

By Saturday morning Erdogan claimed the government was in full control of the country, although the situation appeared chaotic and uncertain.

Military coups are not unknown in Turkey, indeed there have been four since 1960, but only one in the past 35 years.

A gift from God

Erdogan accused the coup plotters of trying to kill him and launched a purge of the armed forces.

"They will pay a heavy price for this," said Erdogan, who also cut off widespread public protests against his rule three years ago. "This uprising is a gift from God to us because this will be a reason to cleanse our army."

World leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, slammed the coup attempt. On Saturday Merkel condemned "in the strongest terms" the failed coup in Turkey, but cautioned Erdogan to avoid indiscriminate reprisals and to deal with the coup plotters in accordance with the law.

The treatment "of those responsible for the tragic events of last night can and should only be handled according to the rule of law," she said after the coup bid, which left over 260 people dead.