— Borzou Daragahi (@borzou) August 7, 2016
On Sunday, Turkish authorities staged a huge rally in the Yenikapi area of Istanbul, with as many as 5 million people in attendance, according to police officials, though other media accounts say the crowd was not quite as large.
The picture above, shared by Buzzfeed correspondent Borzou Daragahi, shows a panoramic view of the rally, filtered through the red of the Turkish flag.
Almost five million people join historic 'Democracy and Martyrs' Rally' in Istanbul, according to police pic.twitter.com/eA0UraQany
— ANADOLU AGENCY (ENG) (@anadoluagency) August 7, 2016
The event marked the culmination of three weeks of nightly "democracy watches" — demonstrations and vigils that sprang up nationwide in the aftermath of the July 15 coup attempt. The putsch, which Turkish officials pin on the network of shadowy Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who lives in the United States, led to about 270 deaths and has been billed as the bloodiest challenge to Turkey's democracy in decades.
In the aftermath, the country's powerful president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has presided over a vast purge of suspected "Gulenists" in state institutions and society, leading to tens of thousands of people being arrested, detained or suspended from their jobs.
As I wrote over the weekend from Istanbul, the coup attempt was a moment of genuine trauma for many in Turkey and has provoked a nationalist groundswell in the country, with even leading opposition parties rallying around Erdogan and the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP.
There's little sympathy among most Turks for those linked to Gulen, a figure hailed by his supporters as a preacher of tolerance and peace but characterized by Turkish leaders as a terrorist mastermind. Still, it's unclear how long this spirit of unity — so dramatically illustrated in the images from the rally — can last.
"This picture of unity against the coup attempt and demand for a democratic system do not mean that the opposition parties have abandoned their criticism of Erdogan" and the AKP, wrote Murat Yetkin in a Monday column for Hurriyet Daily News. "But it means they want to solve the problems of Turkish democracy by staying within democracy, not by destroying it with a military coup."
Erdogan used the occasion to again signal his willingness to reinstate the death penalty for convicted coup plotters. Prime Minister Binali Yildirim also reiterated Ankara's demand that the United States extradite Gulen to Turkey.