Prayers are being read simultaneously from Turkey's 85,000 mosques at noon to rally the country to defend its democracy and honor those who died in an attempted military coup.
Sela prayers are traditionally recited from mosques during funerals, though they are also performed to rally people. During Friday night's attempted military coup, sela prayers were repeatedly recited from mosques across the country throughout the night to rally the people against the coup plotters.
Religious Affairs Directorate President Mehmet Görmez told private channel Ulke TV that "as a nation who wasn't disturbed by the barrel of tanks pointed at the people or the sounds of F-16s flying overhead, I do not see anyone in this land who would be disturbed by the sound of sela. This tradition will continue."
The Turkish government has accelerated its crackdown on alleged plotters of the botched coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, issuing dozens of arrest warrants for judges and prosecutors and detaining military officers.
Already, three of the country's top generals have been detained, alongside hundreds of soldiers. The government has also dismissed nearly 3,000 judges and prosecutors from their posts, while investigators were preparing court cases to send the conspirators to trial on charges of attempting to overthrow the government.
The botched coup, which saw warplanes fly over key government installations and tanks roll up in major cities briefly, ended hours later when loyal government forces including military and police— regained control of the military and civilians took to the streets in support of Erdogan.
At least 265 people were killed and over 1,400 were wounded. Government officials say at least 104 conspirators were killed.
Chanting, dancing and waving flags, tens of thousands of Turks marched through the streets into the wee to defend democracy and support the country's long-time leader after a failed military coup shocked the nation.
It was an emotional display by Turks, who rallied in headscarves and long dresses, T-shirts and work boots, some walking hand-in-hand late Saturday and early Sunday with their children. Rather than toppling Turkey's strongman president, the attempted coup that left some 265 dead and 1,440 wounded appears to have bolstered Recep Tayyip Erdogan's popularity and grip on power.
Gozde Kurt, a 16-year-old student at the rally in Istanbul, says Sunday that "just a small group from Turkish armed forces stood up against our government ... but we, the Turkish nation, stand together and repulse it back."
The Yeni Safak newspaper used the headline "Traitors of the country," while the Hurriyet newspaper declared "Democracy's victory."
Turkish security forces have rounded up 52 more military officers for alleged coup links and issued detention orders for 53 more judges and prosecutors, continuing the purge of judges seen as government opponents.
Officials say about 3,000 soldiers, including officers, are already in detention. Almost a similar number of judges and prosecutors have been dismissed.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the perpetrators of Friday's failed coup "will receive every punishment they deserve," and the government said it would take steps toward extraditing a U.S.-based cleric it accused of fomenting the uprising.
Still, the government crackdowns raised concerns over the future of democracy in Turkey, which has long prided itself on its democratic and secular traditions despite being in a region swept by conflict and extremism.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's survival has turned him into a "sort of a mythical figure" and could further erode democracy in Turkey, said Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish research program at The Washington Institute.
"It will allow him to crack down on liberty and freedom of association, assembly, expression and media in ways that we haven't seen before," he said.
The coup attempt, which started with tanks rolling Friday night into the streets of Ankara and Istanbul as the president was on a seaside vacation, has claimed at least 265 lives, according to officials.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said 161 people were killed and 1,440 wounded in the process of putting down the coup attempt, while Gen. Umit Dundar said at least 104 "coup plotters" had died.
Explosions and gunfire erupted throughout the night. It quickly became clear, however, that the military was not united in the effort to overthrow the government. In a dramatic iPhone interview broadcast on TV early Saturday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged his supporters into the streets to confront the troops and tanks, and forces loyal to the government began reasserting control.
Before the chaos, Turkey — a NATO member and key Western ally in the fight against the Islamic State group — had been wracked by political turmoil that critics blamed on Erdogan's increasingly authoritarian rule. He has shaken up the government, cracked down on dissidents, restricted the news media and renewed fighting with Kurdish rebels.
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