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Category 5

The Rolesof Mosques, Media and Digital Platforms Played in the Suppression of the July 15 2016 Coup Attempt.

Spiritual Connection Between Two Presidents And Nations

Vedad HALİLOVİC

Key words: international media, Alija Izetbegovic, mosque, Atatürk Airport, family

During the aggression on Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1992 to 1995, the era of mass media was still in the early stages of its development. Bosnians did not enjoy the convenience of Facebook, Twitter or any other similar ways of instant access to information. So, when the first president of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Alija Izetbegović, was detained on May 2, 1992, nobody knew. The Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) intercepted him at the Sarajevo Airport on his return from Lisbon peace negotiations. His arrest followed a day of intense fighting that escalated after federal air force attacks on the capital. It was the first time troops of the Yugoslav Army, now almost exclusively Serbian, openly took part in the street battles in Sarajevo.

At one point, when a Serbian soldier briefly left the airport office where Izetbegović was held before his imminent execution, the president got hold of a phone. He reached the Bosnian State Television (BHT), joining the live news program. Senad Hadžifejzović, one of the leading anchormen at the time, was the first to hear about Izetbegović’s captivity. In the next couple of hours, all international organizations learned that the army of one state had detained the elected president of another state.1 A situation like this happened for the first time in modern history, and was by all means against international law. Citizens of Sarajevo acted without hesitance when they surrounded the headquarters of the Yugoslav Army, taking General Milutin Kukanjac hostage. They demanded an exchange to take place. This was one of the crucial moments in the history of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The role of mass media, as well as a prompt reaction from the Bosnian people saved Izetbegović’s life.

Coming back to the present, July 15, 2016, played one of the most important roles in the political scene of Turkey. The night in question was the night when my family and I landed at Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport, unaware that we would witness one of the most threatening situations in the history of the Republic of Turkey. Just after a few moments following our arrival, I suspected that something was wrong. I immediately called one of my friends, asking him where the president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, was. He told me that nobody knew for sure. On our way to the airport terminal, I read some media reports claiming that Erdoğan was seen escaping to Iran, Germany or Greek islands. They gave all sorts of conflicting information, leaving the citizens of Turkey in a state of skepticism and uncertainty. However, after a FaceTime call from the resident, similar to the case of Izetbegović 24 years ago, his whereabouts and his condition became known. From then on, Turkish people started taking control of the situation by protecting the democratically elected president and state institutions.

We left Atatürk Airport around 3 a.m., and using the metro tried to reach the Asian side of Istanbul.2 After Erdoğan’s address, people took to the streets to resist the coup attempt. Istanbul was filled with people of all ages, genders, social statuses and political preferences. Everything about them, their eyes, their demeanor, the words they uttered, had the relentless spirit of those who are ready to defend their constitution, even at the cost of their own lives. Civilians bravely confronted soldiers3 with no weapons whatsoever.

Meanwhile, foreign news reports continued serving false information about the situation in Turkey. The unsuccessful coup attempt was portrayed as a war, and there were even insinuations that all of it was staged. Considering the power of media and the extent to which it shape people’s perceptions, it was of crucial importance to put an end to this. I did my share by actively engaging in what could be labeled “social media event coverage” from different locations in Istanbul as we traveled back to our home in Üsküdar. I got an instant response from several television centers in the Balkans that started broadcasting my observations of the events that night. The following day, I was interviewed as a guest on a few news programs, offering firsthand experience of the July 15 coup attempt. I perceived it as my mission, as my debt to this country, to tell the truth about the coup attempt, about the extraordinary events and heroism of the Turkish people.

It was time for morning prayers4 when my family and I arrived in Üsküdar. After reciting the call to prayer, the muezzin5 continued summoning people to stay on the streets. It was important to keep people outside so the enemy would see the multitude that rose up against them. In this sense, religious authority surpassed its familiar domain of action when employed to govern matters of national importance. Mosques were literally a means of communication between the authorities and civilians. Religion thus played an undeniable role in keeping order, maintaining vigilance in the event of treason and encouraging people to unite under the same cause. Mosques became one of the leading symbols of resistance and patriotism.

As we were approaching our house, we could still hear the clamor of people on the streets. Some of them were still patrolling while others celebrated by climbing abandoned tanks and taking photos in front of them. The sun was already up when we finally arrived. We fell asleep right away, tired but optimistic that Turkey would rise stronger than ever.

Footnotes:
1. The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY)
2. Epicenter of military coup attempt in Istanbul: Bosporus Bridge, 1st Army Command, Çengelköy Military High School, and the private house of President Erdoğan.
3. A fraction under the influence of the Gülenist Terror Group(FETO).
4. Fajr, the morning prayer.
5. The adhan is the Islamic call to prayer. A muezzin recites the call to prayer from the minaret of a mosque to announce every prayer, five times a day.

Category 5

The Rolesof Mosques, Media and Digital Platforms Played in the Suppression of the July 15 2016 Coup Attempt.

1. Sertaç Timur DEMİR

Publicly Supported, Morality-based And Social Media-oriented People’s Resistance To The Gulenist Coup Attempt On July 15

2. Yussif MOHAMMED ALHASSAN

The Role Mosques, Media And Digital Platforms Played In The Suppression Of The July 15 Coup Attempt

3. Vedad HALİLOVİC

Spiritual Connection Between Two Presidents And Nations