Turkey ousts only Christian mayor in massive coup purge

The Turkish government has ousted its only Christian mayor in a massive purge of politicians and officials who are accused of supporting or having links with the PKK Kurdistan Workers Party and Turkish Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen.

(Reuters/Umit Bektas)A man waves Turkey's national flag during the Democracy and Martyrs Rally, organized by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in August.

This week, the Turkish government ousted Februniye Akyol, the country's first Assyrian Christian mayor in the city of Merdin. Her co-mayor, the Kurdish Ahmet Turk, was also sacked and both of them were replaced by a person chosen by the central government, the Independent Catholic News details.

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Akyol was elected as mayor of Merdin in 2014 under the Peace and Democracy Party. She was the only Christian official in the country, Premier notes.

The government has accused Gulen, who is exiled in America, of starting the failed Turkey coup on July 15. The other officials who were sacked along with the Christian mayor have also been accused of supporting the PKK.

During the failed coup in July, the military attempted to overthrow Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's regime. The coup in Istanbul and Ankara ended up in gunfire and explosions. The violent clashes left 90 people dead and 1,154 injured.

Meanwhile, the Turkish Embassy released a statement saying the people had united in foiling the coup attempt.

"The situation unfolded in Turkey was a coup attempt to overthrow the democratically-elected government," the embassy said. "This attempt was foiled by the Turkish people in unity and solidarity. Our president and government are in charge."

In the heat of the failed coup, some members of Turkish media called the coup an attempt by Christians to take over the nation. In the wake of the incident, the government launched a crackdown on people it claims were stirring dissent. Hundreds of civil servants have been removed, and more than 30 mayors accused of having links with the PKK have been sacked so far.

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