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Istanbul attack aimed to polarise Turkish society, says Erdogan Open in fullscreen

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Istanbul attack aimed to polarise Turkish society, says Erdogan

Erdogan first came to power in 2003 as prime minister [Getty]

Date of publication: 4 January, 2017

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Turkey's president says that the Istanbul nightclub attack aims to set Turks against each other and deepen fault lines, but the country won't fall for this game.

The Islamic State attack on an Istanbul nightclub that killed 39 people aimed to polarise Turkish society, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday.

"The aim was clear – to create a fissure and polarise society," he said in a speech at his presidential palace, in his first remarks on Sunday's pre-dawn attack.

"We will stand tall and keep our sangfroid. No-one's lifestyle in Turkey is under a systematic threat. We would never let this happen. In 14 years in power, we have never given this a chance."

Hitting a nightclub on New Year's night, the attack struck at the heart of secular Turkey, with analysts saying IS clearly sought to widen splits in Turkish society.

"These attacks seek to make us put our emotions before our reason," said Erdogan.

"But even if that makes us suffer, this cannot be a reason for us to give in."

Erdogan, who first came to power in 2003 as prime minister, has been accused of presiding over a creeping Islamisation in Turkey and accentuating splits in society.

But authorities insist Turkey remains a firmly secular country and that changes have only increased the right to freedom of worship for devout Muslims.

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