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Turkey’s Erdogan Marks Anniversary Of Coup Attempt With Verbal Attack On Cleric

Updated

Some 250 people were killed in the thwarted coup of 2016. (file photo)

Turkey has commemorated the second anniversary of the thwarting of a coup attempt against the Turkish president and the government during which 250 were killed.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and top officials attended a Koran recitation in Ankara on July 15, kicking off a series of events with prayers.

Later in the day, Erdogan in a speech attacked Fethullah Gulen, the cleric Turkey blames for the coup who is now based in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania.

Turkey has struck a blow against the "hypocrisy, tricks, [and] lies" of the "cursed one" in Pennsylvania, Erdogan said, adding that his government had destroyed Gulen's network within the Turkish public and private sector.

Gulen has denied any involvement in the plot, and Washington has refused Ankara's demands to extradite the cleric to Turkey.

On July 15, 2016, factions within the military used tanks, warplanes, and helicopters in an attempt to try to overthrow Erdogan. Clashes took place in major cities, including Istanbul and Ankara.

Detentions And Dismissals

In past months, Turkish authorities have detained tens of thousands of people, including civil servants, journalists, and teachers in a crackdown on alleged Gulen supporters.

Tens of thousands of others have been fired or suspended in the immense purge that has been criticized by rights groups who accuse Erdogan of using the attempted coup as a pretext to stifle dissent.

Despite the disagreement over Gulen, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement on July 15 that the United States stood by Turkey, a fellow member of the NATO alliance.

She said the coup attempt was "an attack on democracy and a stark reminder that the preservation of democracy requires perseverance and safeguards for fundamental freedoms."

Based on reporting by AP and Hurriyet
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