Thousands take to streets across Turkey for democracy

By Burcu Arik

ANKARA/ISTANBUL (AA) – Thousands of people took to the streets across Turkey Saturday to celebrate democracy’s victory over Friday’s failed military coup by the FETO terrorist group.

Heeding President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s call, the crowds flooded main streets and squares of large cities, especially Istanbul, Turkey’s biggest city, and the capital Ankara.

In Kizilay, a central, well-known square in Ankara, residents, including women and children, waved flags and chanted pro-government and democracy slogans.

Addressing the crowds, Ankara Mayor Melih Gokcek from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) said that Turkey now is not the same as it once was. “The power of arms could not make our nation bow,” he said.

Istanbulites also staged similar images. People gathering in various locations across the city walked through the streets to protest the coup plotters.

On Saturday night, Erdogan also called the parliament speaker and the two main opposition party leaders, Republican People’s Party (CHP) Chairman Kemal Kilicdaroglu and National Movement Party (MHP) Chairman Devlet Bahceli, to thank them “for not giving credit to the coup attempt.”

Friday night saw military elements make a “vile” attempt to overthrow Turkey’s elected government, according to Prime Minister Binali Yildirim. Around 160 people were martyred in the ensuing violence.

Some 2,839 military personnel involved in the coup attempt have been arrested, and 20 pro-coup soldiers, including some senior officers, were killed in the attempt to overthrow the government.

The government has said the coup bid was organized by followers of expatriate cleric Fetullah Gulen, who is accused of pursuing a long-running campaign to overthrow the government through supporters within the Turkish state, particularly the military, police and judiciary.