‘I love Turkey’

Istanbul—Answering a call to fill squares across Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ecstatic supporters surged through the streets Saturday to celebrate what they saw as one of the strongman’s greatest victories after he stared down a military coup.
In under 24 hours, the atmosphere in Istanbul changed dramatically. From one of fear and confusion, the city was abuzz with the celebratory sounds of car horns, laughing children and red and white Turkish flags fluttering in the cool evening breeze.
Erdogan had already managed to successfully mobilise supporters on Friday, calling on them to defy a curfew declared by the putschists and help crush the attempted coup by elements within the military.
But even after the danger passed, the triumphant leader urged people to come out again on Saturday and show their numbers.
In Kisikli square on the Asian side of Istanbul, thousands gathered to hear Erdogan speak just a few steps away from his family home. In a typically fiery speech, he pinned the blame for the coup plot on a “parallel state” and “Pennsylvania” — a reference to Fethullah Gulen, a US-exiled Muslim cleric and arch-foe whom he has long accused of seeking to overthrow him.
– ‘They cannot destroy us’ –
Among the jubilant crowds, there was a palpable sense that Friday’s botched coup had only made Erdogan stronger.
Hayrullah Kul, 55, from Uskudar, said he was glad the putsch failed as he stressed his love for the Turkish leader who has been in power since 2003, first as premier and now as president.—AFP

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