Several million Turks gathered in Istanbul on Sunday in protest against last month’s coup attempt, according to police and organisers.
The mass rally was called by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and is seen as a show of strength for the leader, who has been criticised by the West for a sweeping crackdown on dissent after the failed takeover.
Banners read “You are a gift from God, Erdogan” or “Order us to die and we will do it,” and many demonstrators came wrapped in the red Turkish flag.
Almost five million people join historic 'Democracy and Martyrs' Rally' in Istanbul, according to police pic.twitter.com/d5AaPmOr16— ANADOLU AGENCY (ENG) (@anadoluagency) August 7, 2016
Erdogan once again said he would support any move by the parliament to reinstate the death penalty following the failed coup.
“The sovereignty stays unconditionally with the nation… If the people want that (death penalty), in my opinion, political parties should follow the will of the people.”
Erdogan also criticised a German court ruling barring him from addressing a similar rally in Cologne via video link last weekend.
Speaking to the crowd, he said: “That’s Germany… I wanted to connect to the meeting via videoconference. They didn’t allow me to, they decided against it: where is democracy?”
Turkey summons German diplomat over ban on Erdogan speech at Cologne rally – senior source https://t.co/yTo0sbQq10— Dan Williams (@DanWilliams) August 1, 2016
Sunday’s so-called Democracy and Martyrs’ Rally caps three weeks of nightly demonstrations by his supporters.
Two of Turkey’s main opposition parties attended the rally and even got to address the crowd before Erdogan, but the pro-Kurdish HDP party was not invited.
United we stand!
4 million people
pro-democracy rally in Istanbul (& >100K in <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Gaziantep?src=hash">#Gaziantep</a>) - the largest in Europe <a href="https://t.co/h0Ib5KIhhn">pic.twitter.com/h0Ib5KIhhn</a></p>— Mehmet Simsek (memetsimsek) August 7, 2016