President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Thursday that a coup attempt which took place on July 15 was more dangerous than the military coups of 1960 and 1980 in Turkey.
Speaking to governors at his presidential palace in Ankara, Erdoğan said: “The July 15 coup attempt is a more important turning point for Turkey than 1980. In previous coups, our people were able to activate their defense mechanisms knowing what was happening.”
Both the 1960 and 1980 military coups are known as bloody coups as a result of which thousands of people were subjected to torture and maltreatment and even killed. The country’s then-prime minister and several ministers were even executed following the 1960 military coup.
In his speech Erdogan reiterated the claim that the July 15 coup attempt was masterminded by the faith-based Gülen movement. The coup attempt claimed the lives of more than 240 people and left more than a thousand injured.
President Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government have been pursuing a witch-hunt against people who are sympathetic to the Gülen movement since Dec. 17-25, 2013 corruption investigations in which senior government figures were implicated. The process turned into an all-out war against Gülen sympathizers following the coup attempt on July 15.
Despite Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen and the movement having denied the accusation and calling for an international investigation, Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government launched a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.
In his speech on Thursday, Erdoğan also said use of the words of “Turkey” and “Turkish” in names will be banned outside the country if they are employed without the knowledge and approval of the Turkish government, apparently targeting Turkish schools opened by Gülen followers in many countries around the world.
Erdoğan closed down all Gülen-affiliated schools in Turkey following the coup attempt and is pressuring other countries to do the same for the Gülen-affiliated schools within their borders.