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September 25, 2017

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Turks claim record for 'world's largest Ataturk portrait'

ANKARA, Turkey -- Thousands of people on Tuesday came together in Ankara to form the world's largest portrait of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the modern Turkish republic who remains its number one national hero.

At least 6,000 volunteers gathered outside the Anitkabir mausoleum, Ataturk's final resting place, to form the larger-than-life portrait for an event marking Turkey's Victory Day.

Wearing black outfits and making a heart shape with their hands in the air, they formed the portrait as well as Ataturk's signature as they sought to set a world record.

They stood still for 30 minutes under a searing sun while a helicopter carrying Guinness World Records officials hovered overhead.

The event drew an enthusiastic response from locals as well as people from other cities who flocked to Ankara to take part in the feat. Another 6,000 people were left out due to limited capacities, NTV television reported.

The portrait is expected to be certified as the world's largest by Guinness World Records.

Two previous record attempts in the western cities of Izmir and Bursa, in which participation was lower, failed to get into the record books.

Turkey's Victory Day, Aug. 30, marks a major military victory against invading Greek troops in 1922 that paved the way for the establishment of modern Turkey.

Commemorations however start on Aug. 26, the anniversary of the Battle of Dumlupinar, the final battle in the Turkish War of Independence.

Ataturk founded modern Turkey on the basis of a strict separation between religion and state but critics accuse Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who will be inaugurated as the new president on Thursday, of eroding his legacy.

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