Tens of thousands rally for Erdogan
TENS of thousands of supporters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan rallied in this German city as tensions over Turkey’s failed coup put authorities on edge.
Waving the Turkish flag and chanting “Turkey”, the demonstrators turned the rally site next to the River Rhine into a sea of red as they began the demonstration by singing the Turkish and German national anthems. Some held banners saying “Erdogan, fighting for liberty”.
“We are here because our compatriots in Germany are standing up for democracy and against the attempted military coup in Turkey,” said Turkey’s Sports Minister Akif Cagatay Kilic at the rally on July 31, Tagesspiegel daily reported.
“The message to be sent from the event is that in Turkey, all parties and NGOs want to stand together against the coup and to defend democracy,” said the minister, who was born in Germany.
Police said the gathering, organised by groups including the proErdogan Union of European-Turkish Democrats (UETD), broke up around 5pm with the crowd estimated at about 40,000.
Since the attempted July 15 power grab, Mr Erdogan’s government has launched a huge crackdown, detaining almost 19,000 people and sparking international concern.
Ratcheting up its clampdown on the military, Ankara on July 31 dismissed nearly 1400 military personnel, including a top aide to Mr Erdogan, and confirmed it would close military schools and academies.
Mr Erdogan – who says a group within the military acted on the orders of United States-based cleric Fethullah Gulen – has also said he will bring the country’s spy agency and military chief of staff directly under his control.
The drama has spilled over into Germany, home to three million ethnic Turks – the biggest Turkish diaspora in the world.
Hours before the rally, Germany’s constitutional court banned an application to show live speeches from Turkey by politicians, including Mr Erdogan, amid fears they could work the crowd up further. –