Turkey’s Democracy Rally Sees Worldwide Media Coverage


Media outlets across the world report on Turkey’s historic cross-party rally that united millions against July 15 coup bid

The anti-coup Democracy and Martyrs’ Rally in Istanbul on Sunday attracted wide media coverage from across the world.Turkey’s largest city witnessed millions of people gathering in a massive display of unity that brought ruling and opposition party leaders together for the first time in modern Turkey’s history – under the spotlight of many international news outlets.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was joined by Prime Minister and ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party Chairman Binali Yildirim, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Chairman Kemal Kilicdaroglu, and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli at the massive rally in a show of national solidarity and a common protest against the July 15 defeated coup that left 240 people martyred and 2,200 others injured.

European media

British daily Financial Times headlined “Istanbul rally fuels hopes for unity in Turkey”, reporting that “at least 1m people flocked to a historic cross-party rally against Turkey’s attempted coup on Sunday, fueling hopes of a turning point in the nation’s divided politics.”

The daily newspaper said the attendance by the leaders of the political parties was “welcomed by government critics and supporters alike, who hope that a new spirit of national unity is emerging after a period of growing polarization along political, religious and ethnic lines.”

“Huge crowds gather in Istanbul for historic anti-coup rally” was headlined by another British daily, The Independent. According to the online newspaper, the rally marked a climax after many weeks of demonstrations in support of Erdogan following the failed coup.

Similarly, The Times said: “Turks gather in their millions to hail Erdogan’s new nation” in its headline. Covering a photo with girls waving Turkish flags, the daily wrote that the rally was “billed as a celebration of the new united Turkey that has emerged from the failed coup on July 15.”

The Guardian ran the headline: “Turkish authorities hold an anti-coup rally in Istanbul” while BBC reported the rally as “Erdogan backs return of death penalty at vast Istanbul rally”, referring to the high number of people who attended the rally.

According to BBC, Erdogan said during the rally that he would approve the return of the death penalty if it was backed by the Turkish parliament and the public.

German media gave broad coverage to Erdogan’s words on the reinstatement of the death penalty in Turkey.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung quoted Erdogan as saying “What the public wants”, referring to a strong desire by the Turkish public for the return of capital punishment.

Sharing a picture of Erdogan and First Lady Emine Erdogan greeting people, the daily said Erdogan reiterated his stance that the decision would be up to Turkish lawmakers.

“I will approve reinstating the death penalty if the parliament approves”, Erdogan said, according to the daily.

Bild also covered the mass meeting: ” A country wrapped in red”, reporting that millions of people gathered in Istanbul.

In France, Le Monde newspaper described the rally as “a big support for Erdogan” after the failed coup.

The daily said the rally was the highlight of weeks of pro-democracy protests across the country, adding that all political parties and the public were united with Erdogan.

France 24 news channel said Erdogan’s vast rally was “a show of strength”. The TV station said millions of Turks flooded the rally after Erdogan’s call for unity.

Weekly Le Point magazine also described the rally as a show of strength for pro-Erdogan protesters. The magazine also covered Erdogan’s statement on the death penalty.

Belgian newspaper La Libre chose Anadolu Agency’s photograph covering the whole rally stage as the picture of the day. In the caption, the daily said millions of Turks attended the rally after Erdogan’s calls.

The two-page story also gave detailed coverage of Turkey’s recent foreign policy. It said Erdogan and Putin would hold talks, which would be the first meeting between the two leaders since Russia and Turkey began normalizing relations following the downing of a Russian warplane in November last year.

The paper described Turkey’s normalization with Russia as “a new alliance at the European borders”, adding that Turkey’s relations to the EU have soured lately. Daily Le Soir widely mentioned the possibility of reinstating the death penalty.

The daily also said Erdogan was not alone at the scene, backed by opposition party leaders, for the first time since he grabbed power in 2003.

The rally also drew attention in Italy and Spain.

Italian news outlet La Repubblica dedicated its front page to the rally with the headline: “Erdogan challenges Europe over rights”, reporting that Erdogan said he was ready to say yes to bringing back the death penalty.

La Stampa also said Erdogan defied Europe while II Messaggero newspaper said “an ocean of crowd” gathered for Erdogan.

Spanish newspaper El Pais called Sunday’s rally “the biggest one in its history”.

El Mundo also reported on Erdogan’s comments on reinstating the death penalty, adding that he said political parties should abide by the decision.

Austrian newspapers mostly covered the anti-coup rally as: “The death penalty asked at the rally.”

Kurier newspaper covered the story with the headline: “Erdogan offers the death penalty in the big rally.” The newspaper reported that the number of people gathered in the meeting “was exaggerated”.

The daily claimed that the number of participants was actually one million instead of 5 million as reported in other news organizations.

Another Austrian daily Der Standard ran the headline: “Erdogan promises death penalty to millions.”

The daily reported Erdogan as saying many countries have the death penalty. In Swiss media, French-published daily Le Temps ran the headline: “Millions of Turk celebrate democracy’s victory in Istanbul.”

The daily said at least two million people were gathered at the rally. In the meeting, Erdogan and main opposition leaders shared the same idea of national unity, the daily added.

Tribune de Geneve newspaper covered the story with the headline: “Strong rally.”

The daily said that after the failed coup attempt, people and opposition were united with Erdogan. The story also included Erdogan’s death penalty remarks.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the biggest-selling daily Dnevni Avaz ran the headline: “Millions of people support the power”, saying it was the biggest political rally in Turkey’s political history.

Oslobodjenje daily covered the rally with the headline: “Unity in Democracy and Martyrs’ Rally” saying the mass gathering was “show of strength” for Erdogan, who was criticized by West for the detentions of suspected coup-plotters after the failed deadly putsch.

Faktor daily dedicated its front page to the rally. “Spectacular rally for democracy’s victory,” it read, saying Turkish people crowded Istanbul’s Yenikapi area, which has the capacity to host between three to five million people.

For the first time in Turkey’s modern history, Erdogan and the opposition leaders attended the same rally in Turkey, the daily added.

Polish News Agency (PAP) used the headline: “Failed coup attempt condemned in Istanbul’s rally”.

The agency said all the opposition leaders attended the rally except PKK’s party, referring to the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

“Democracy and Martyrs’ Rally in Istanbul: millions in the streets” was the Rzeczpospolita daily’s headline.

Lithuania’s Lieutovs Rytas daily used the headline: “Erdogan reiterates: If people want death penalty he will back it”, saying that Turkish people and opposition leaders showed unity with Erdogan.

“Erdogan promises the death penalty once again” reported Latvia’s Diena, while Estonia’s Postimess newspaper used the headline: “Big protests start for Turkey’s president.”

Hungary’s Magyar Namzet ran the headline: “One million people with Erdogan in rally”. The rally was also covered by Ukrainian media.

The Unian news agency ran the headline: “Pro-government [people] held mass rally in Istanbul.” “Erdogan and five million Turks organize protest against coup attempt” was the headline of Bulgaria’s 24 Hours daily.

Cyprus daily used the headline: “Historic moment at Yenikapi” saying that Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) Prime Minister Huseyin Ozgurgun also attended the rally.

The Greek Cypriot Administration also covered the rally.

Cyprus Mail daily used the headline: “Millions gather in Istanbul” on its website, saying millions of people met at Yenikapi area after Erdogan’s call.

Russia and Central Asia media

Russian news agencies Ria and Tass and daily newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta mainly focused on Erdogan’s remarks on a possible reinstatement of the death penalty in Turkey.

Ria also covered main opposition Republican People’s Party leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu’s speech. Russian radio station Echo of Moscow said over one million people attended the rally.

Azerbaijani press mainly highlighted the Azeri flags used during the rally. The country’s newspaper “Yeni Musavat” said: “First in Turkish political history, government and opposition hold public demonstration.”

It defined the rally as “magnificent”.

Daily political newspaper Azadliq said: “5 million people rallied in Istanbul. Azadliq also covered the speeches of Erdogan, the prime minister and opposition party leaders.

Azertac, national news agency of Azerbaijan, said people rushed to Yenikapi.

The website “qafqazinfo.az” published a picture of political leaders and ran the headline: “A historical picture for Turkey”. It also said both Turkish and Azeri artists attended the rally.

Another website called “avropa.info” shared the links of live broadcasts of the rally.

Georgian State Television TV1 announced five million people attended the rally and it aired Erdogan’s speech live.

Interpressnews news agency quoted Erdogan’s remarks on the death penalty.

“Rally in support of Erdogan” was Kyrgyzstan’s news agency Akipress headline. It reported that about five million citizens attended the rally in support of Erdogan.

Kazakhstan’s “tengrinews.kz” website said: “Erdogan gathered 5 million people in Istanbul.”

Iran and Egypt media 

Iranian media largely ignored the mass rally in Turkey.

The country’s media, which has been mainly critical of Erdogan instead of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), there was no print coverage of the mass rally, which was seen as “overlooking” Turkey’s popular will.

However, some mention-worthy coverage took place in one of Iranian state televisions, Press TV, as they televised Erdogan’s speech live.

News channel TV6 partly also displayed the rally live.

State news agency IRNA covered the rally as “Thousands — who support Justice and Development (AK) Party and opposition parties — gathered in the rally.”

Meanwhile, Iranian Students News Agency ISNA covered Erdogan’s speech as: “If the people want execution, necessary steps will be taken”.

The news agency also mentioned the opposition parties’ attendance at the rally.

Mehr News Agency, which said the rally was attended by around 3,5 million people, ran headlines about the rally as “a support meeting for Erdogan”.

Similarly, the media in Egypt overlooked ‘Democracy and Martyrs Rally’ on Sunday, which was attended by around 5 million people. Semi-official state newspapers like Al-Ahram, Anbar and Republic did not publish a single story about the rally, while Al-Misri Al-Yawm only shared a short story on their third page.

High-triage newspapers like el-Watan, Al-Yawm as-Sabi and Al-Shorouk did not publish any stories about the mass rally in Istanbul.

Al-Mesryoon, a newspaper known for its distance to the Egyptian government, saw the Yenikapi meeting as “A first in Turkey’s history” and that “Ruling and opposition parties addressed people from same podium.”

The newspaper’s said on its website that the meeting was “a cross-party” with people joining the rally with their Turkish flags.

Weekly newspaper Veto highlighted the Turkish celebrity participation in the rally, sharing a short story with the headline: “Artists supported Erdogan”.

In Egypt, the rally was not televised live in any of the TV channels and it was not mentioned during the late night news programs as well.