Turkish President Abdullah Gül on Monday said that he has been closely following developments in Egypt as several civil society organizations staged demonstrations in front of Egyptian diplomatic missions both in Ankara and İstanbul in a show of solidarity with the Egyptian protestors, calling on their leader, who has controlled the Arab country for decades with an iron fist, to resign.
“We are closely following the developments in Egypt,” Gül briefly responded to a question while speaking to reporters before Macedonia’s new ambassador to Turkey presented his credentials to him at the Çankaya presidential palace.
A group of people gathered in front of the Egyptian Consulate General in İstanbul late on Sunday to display their solidarity with Egyptians who rallied across Egypt, bringing the country to a standstill. Demonstrators chanted slogans against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak as security forces circled the consulate to prevent any damage to the diplomatic mission.
The protests were spearheaded by the Humanitarian Aid Foundation (İHH), the main organizer of a flotilla of ships that sailed to Gaza to bring aid in May of last year, to “send messages of support to the Egyptian people.”
Mubarak sacked his cabinet on Saturday after days of unprecedented demonstrations across the country and appointed former Air Force Chief of Staff Ahmed Shafiq as his new prime minister.
İHH President Bülent Yıldırım says the riots in Egypt are a result of years of oppression and that the pressure is felt not only by the Egyptians but also by the Palestinians. “We support the demonstrations,” Yıldırım said. Adding that he is concerned about the fact that the military was ordered to use live ammunition against protesters who defy a government-imposed curfew, Yıldırım said only what the people themselves want will happen from now on.
A group of about 100 protesters, heavily outnumbered by riot police, also protested Mubarak and his regime in Ankara in front of the Egyptian Embassy, despite cold weather and snow. Chanting slogans against Mubarak’s regime, protestors shouted that Egypt will embrace freedom and that Mubarak will go. The demonstrators said the Egyptian regime, which failed to employ its fighter jets against Israel when the Jewish state bombed Gaza, is using its fighter planes against its own people. “Today and tomorrow a massacre will be committed against civilians,” the group said.
Fighter jets streaked low over Tahrir Square on Sunday night, where hundreds of thousands had gathered. Police, conspicuously missing over the weekend, returned to the streets of the capital in a high-profile display of authority over a situation with the possibility of spiraling out of control. Both protests ended without incident.