President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s motorcade arrived at his 1,100-room palace on an unusually rainy day in Ankara on July 9. His armored Mercedes was showered with red roses, thrown at the car by crowds cheering him hours before an extravagant inauguration ceremony. A 101-gun salute and an Ottoman military band greeted him along with 10,000 selected guests (this author was on the guest list but, in protest, preferred not to attend).
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan makes a speech at his inauguration ceremony in Ankara on July 9, 2018. (Photo by Stringer/Getty Images)
Whereas pompous scenes from Erdoğan’s palace ceremony showed the glittering face of Turkey on July 9, events from the day before were saddening and unveiled “the other Turkey.” A passenger train derailed in the Thrace region west of Istanbul, killing 24 and injuring more than 300. On the same day, students from the Middle East Technical University in Ankara were arrested for carrying placards “insulting the president” at their graduation ceremony.
Also on July 8, more than 18,000 government employees were fired “over suspected links to groups that ‘act against national security.'” That brought the number of people purged to 125,806 since the July 2016 coup attempt.