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The 15-second message, which played on all phone calls for 30 minutes beginning at midnight, said: “As your President, I congratulate your July 15 Democracy and National Unity Day, wish for God’ mercy on our martyrs, and health and wellbeing of our veterans.”
Some took it lightly.
Same thing happened to my mom a minute ago, she was like "I called you but erdogan was talking on the phone instead" ALDMSKXD— Cameron Dallas (@daddycxmeron) July 15, 2017
Others were more heated.
I just tried to call my aunt and instead I heard Tayyip Erdoğan talking about his coup. That is very, very abnormal.— Can Okar (@canokar) July 15, 2017
Turkey is in trouble.
Initially thought to be a service by Turkcell —a wireless provider with ties to the government— it was later revealed to include all calls from all providers, even to the country’s emergency phone number, 112.
A Turkish user shared this video of himself calling the emergency line and waiting for 15 seconds before Erdoğan’s message ends. Via Twitter message, he said, after learning about the recorded message, he wanted to check the emergency line and got concerned because his pregnant wife’s due date is very soon.
Bu nedir ya...Bu nedir kardeşim biri açıklasın bunu ya...112'ye ulaşamıyorsun...Böyle bi ülke tok dünya Üzerinde pic.twitter.com/Faz8qR3CzB— Le'vent... (@lewent_08) July 15, 2017
At 12:30am local time, the chair of Turkey’s Internet and Telecommunications Authority confirmed to local media that the government had coordinated the delivery of Erdoğan’s message through all operators as a “surprise” to all subscribers.
English translation: “The whole nation listens to our President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s July 15 Democracy and National Unity message. #July15”
The commemoration ceremonies for the coup attempt also involved all 85,000 mosques in the country reciting Sela prayers —which was used to mobilize civilians against the army during the night of the coup attempt—and Erdoğan’s widely broadcast speech at the parliament where he promised to restore the death penalty for the putchists before a cheering audience.
His critics, however, are not celebrating. The opposition party CHP’s leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu penned an opinion piece for the Guardian in which he wrote Erdoğan exploited Turkey’s crisis to turn the country into “a near-dictatorial regime.” After hearing Erdoğan’s voice on his phone, MPs from Kılıçdaroğlu’s party were steaming on Twitter:
Yeter be... Telefonda bile karşımıza çıkıyor... Bu kadar hakaretin üstüne bu nedir be... Kabus gibi...— Aykut Erdoğdu (@aykuterdogdu) July 15, 2017
English translation: “Enough is enough… He even crops up on the phone… What the hell is this after all that insult… It is like a nightmare…”
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan'ın sesini, isteğim dışında dinletmek; haberleşme özgürlüğünün gaspıdır. GSM şirketleri suç işlemiştir.— Barış Yarkadaş (@barisyarkadas) July 15, 2017
English translation: “Making me listen to Erdoğan’s voice, without my consent, violates the freedom of communication. GSM companies have committed a crime.”
Still, some kept the spirits high.
Arkadaşımı aradım karşımda biri ! Aman Allahım ! Hemen kapattım suratına.— Mevlüt Dudu (@MevlutDudu) July 15, 2017
English translation: “I called a friend of mine but then there was this someone! Oh my God! I hung up on him.”
Efe Kerem Sözeri is a Turkish freelance researcher who lives in the Netherlands. After studying political science in Istanbul, he moved to Amsterdam to study migrants' political behavior. Besides his academic work, he regularly writes on internet freedom and censorship in Turkey.