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Foreign Correspondent (ABC)

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Sally Sara ABC Foreign Correspondent

Turkey – The Bridge

Who’ll be next? Fear grips Turkey after a failed coup and a sweeping purge set the country on a dangerous and unpredictable path. Sally Sara investigates.

At first she was just “the woman in the head scarf”, a diminutive figure captured on mobile phone footage, singlehandedly confronting and scolding armed rebel soldiers who had suddenly seized Istanbul’s main bridge.

Why did you close my Bosphorous Bridge? Why are you doing this? she demanded, arms waving.

The woman was 34-year-old Safiye Bayat. She took a bullet in the leg from those soldiers. When the coup was put down, the crazy-brave mother-of-two became an instant national heroine – a symbol of how people power helped rescue Turkey’s brittle democracy.

Safiye Bayat is still recovering from her wounds from that midsummer night. Her country remains in turmoil.

Within hours of the coup attempt President Erdogan’s forces began rounding up tens of thousands of his suspected opponents – jurists, journalists, civil servants, artists, musicians.

They stand accused as “Gulenists” – followers of US-based Muslim cleric Fetullah Gulen, a former Erdogan ally-turned-rival.
We had a sort of cancer within our body… and now we are getting rid of the cancer cells – Government official Yasin Aktay

Erdogan’s purge has deepened the gulf between two distinct strands of Turkish society – conservative Muslims and western-leaning secularists. Many secular activists, it’s claimed, are being unfairly tarred as Gulenists.


Turkey – The Bridge – Foreign Correspondent – ABC:

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