Four-finger salutes as Turks back Egypt protesters

ISTANBUL Mon Aug 19, 2013 9:33pm IST

Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan addresses the media at Esenboga Airport in Ankara August 15, 2013. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan addresses the media at Esenboga Airport in Ankara August 15, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Umit Bektas

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ISTANBUL (Reuters) - From Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan to the national soccer captain, Turks are showing solidarity with followers of Egypt's deposed Islamist President Mohamed Mursi by adopting their four-finger salute.

Turkey has been one of the fiercest international critics of what it has called an "unacceptable coup" after the military toppled Mursi last month, lashing out at the West and Arab nations for failing to condemn his ouster.

Erdogan used the four-finger "Rabaa" salute during a weekend speech and international midfielder and national soccer captain Emre Belozoglu picked up the cue, making the gesture after scoring for Fenerbahce in their opening game of the season.

Istanbul-based humanitarian aid group IHH began handing out T-shirts and badges with a yellow and black logo of the hand gesture, an image also doing the rounds on Turkish social media.

Security forces crushed the protest camps of thousands of Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood supporters in a square near Cairo's Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque last Wednesday, violence which Erdogan described as a massacre after hundreds were killed.

"Rabaa" means "four" or "the fourth" in Arabic and the four-finger salute has become a symbol of the protesters' defiance.

Istanbul mayor Kadir Topbas has said he will propose changing the name of an Istanbul square to Rabaa in a further show of solidarity, Turkey's Dogan news agency reported.

Turkey's strong condemnation of Mursi's ouster, and its criticism of other nations' failure to do the same, has left it looking isolated.

Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said on Sunday other nations in the Middle East were failing to stand up for human rights and democracy.

"When we look at why they are doing this, we see there are kingdoms in the Middle East. Take note, all the kings are behind coup leader (Egyptian army chief Abdel Fattah el) Sisi and his friends," he said in an interview on Kanal 24 television.

Several Egyptian television stations took Turkish soap operas, hugely popular around the Middle East, off air in protest at Turkey's stance, Al Arabiya reported.

(Reporting by Daren Butler and Jonathon Burch; Writing by Dasha Afanasieva; Editing by Nick Tattersall and Raissa Kasolowsky)

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