Hundreds of Turkish Americans alongside American Muslims converged on the white House on Friday to protest a coup attempt in Turkey.
Chanting slogans in support of Turkey’s democratically-elected government and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the group urged respect for democracy in the country.
“We are here to stand against the uprising against democracy in Turkey. We stand with our people of Turkey,” said Yasar Colak, President of the Diyanet Center of America that was inaugurated by Erdogan in April.
A minority group controlling some military assets, including helicopters and fighters jets, tried to wrest control of the country.
A helicopter controlled by coup plotters fired at civilians and threw bombs onto the grounds of the Parliament in Ankara.
Colak said those responsible for bombing the Parliament will pay the consequences.
Muslims Americans with origins from Syria, Palestine, Egypt and other countries also joined the group.
Speaking to the press, Executive Director of Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) said he joined the group to send a message to the junta that he condemned any attempt to topple a democratically-elected government.
“This coup is not an assault only on democracy, it is an assault on national sovereignty of Turkey,” Nihad Awad said.
A similar scene played out in New York’s Time Square where hundreds of Turks were joined by Muslims from Egypt, Syria, Palestine, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan and Americans to protest the attempted overthrow of the government in Ankara.
The group waved Turkish flags while they chanted patriotic slogans in solidarity with Erdogan, and sang the Turkish national anthem.
“They use their guns not to protect their people, but to kill their people,” Samy Ahmed, 31, an Egyptian graduate student at City University of New York told Anadolu Agency. “They tried to make a coup against the elected president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan,” he said, adding “Alhamdulillah [All praise is due to God], all people who stand for freedom, democracy, social justice and human rights came here to support Turkey and stand behind it.”
Turkish national Ahmet Yigit, 28, who owns a consultancy firm focused on business and trade and condemned the coup, said he was shocked when he first heard.
“As a person who graduated from an American University, I see that people in the U.S. are trying to improve themselves by studying science. Those soldiers who attempted the coup have to change their mindset,” he said. “Turkey is the only safe haven in the Middle East, where there is bloodshed. We, the Turkish people who live abroad, are behind our government and nation,” he added.
Forty-seven-year-old community activist Ibrahim Kurtulus, 47, read a prepared statement in front of the group of protesters and promoted democracy, the will of the people and called for the U.S. to stand with its NATO ally.
“We are against any kind of coup … we feel the Turkish military has been hijacked … [we] will not allow the freely elected government of Turkey to be taken over,” he said.
Kurtulus called on the U.S. to stand with the elected government of people, and stressed “we firmly believe that the best foundation for lasting stability in our NATO ally of Turkey is a democratic political order.”
He concluded by emphasizing that the voices of people who protest peacefully must be heard.