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How Erdogan used the power of the mosques against coup attempt

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan used state-employed imams to rally citizens to denounce the attempted coup July 15, highlighting the strength of Turkey's Religious Affairs Department.
A Turkish flag is seen next to the dome of a mosque in Istanbul, Turkey, July 16, 2016.    REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis - RTSIBCJ

In the first hours of the failed coup attempt on July 15, the pro-government figures that appeared on television called upon the Religious Affairs Department (Diyanet) to rally the Turkish people in defense of democracy. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, along with Mehmet Gormez, head of the Religious Affairs Directorate, Turkey’s official religious body, encouraged people to take to the streets to show solidarity against the military coup attempt. Before midnight on July 15, Gormez had issued an order to all imams of the Turkish Republic to go to their mosques and call upon the people to do the same.

This is when the public heard the first sala prayer being read at mosques around the country almost simultaneously all night. Traditionally, sala prayers are read to announce a funeral at the mosque.

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