Fulya OZERKAN - From a mysterious new moustache to suggestions that genies helped the coup plotters, here are some of the stranger stories emerging after Turkey’s botched military putsch.

‘How to stop a tank’

Civilians played a crucial role in defeating the coup, climbing on top of tanks and crowding round rebel soldiers in support of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Online searches for “How to stop a tank” skyrocketed on the night of the coup on July 15, according to Google Trends, especially in the cities of Konya, Kayseri, Istanbul and Ankara.

Istanbul restaurant owner Mehmet Sukru Kintas and chef Danyal Simsek found an unusual but effective method for halting the tanks: stuffing clothes into their exhaust pipes, according to media reports. Soon after they heard about the coup attempt, the pair took their car and blocked tanks heading for the city’s main international Ataturk airport.

Acting on a tip-off from a repairman there, they managed to stop about 10 tanks by blocking their exhaust pipes and filters, the Hurriyet newspaper reported. Citizens later delivered to police some of the soldiers who were forced out of the tanks by the polluted air inside.

Mayor shelters in shanty

As the chaos broke out, Ankara Mayor Melih Gokcek said he hid in a “shanty house” near his home in the capital to speak by telephone to government officials and police.

“People in a leadership position and who are obliged to keep the people informed must definitely go to areas out of sight in order to manage the situation at such a time,” he said in an interview with state-run Anadolu news agency.

‘Hypnotising with genies’

Mayor Gokcek, in another interview with CNN-Turk television, claimed that alleged coup mastermind Fethullah Gulen was hypnotising his followers using “an interesting method”. He said that Gulen, a reclusive US-based cleric, was “taking hold of people” through genies. “It’s possible,” Gokcek said. “He has such a capability.”

Coup plotter in drag

Coup plotters who attacked the hotel where Erdogan was staying on the night of the putsch were forced to take desperate measures as they went on the run for days afterwards.

Some of them ate leaves from vineyards to survive as they fled the scene of the attack in the western seaside resort of Marmaris, while one of them stole women’s clothes from a farm house to wear in disguise, reports said. Another was caught in the nearby town of Ula while trying to hitchhike, dressed as a holidaymaker in shorts and a shirt.

Loyalty by moustache?

Turkey’s previously clean-shaven spy chief Hakan Fidan - under pressure for intelligence failures - has come out with a different image since the coup bid. At a recent meeting with Erdogan, Fidan was suddenly seen with a new moustache in what some saw as an expression of loyalty to the similarly mustachioed president.

Smartphone rockets to fame

In the midst of the coup, Erdogan’s first messages to the public came through the rather unpresidential medium of a FaceTime video call to a reporter’s mobile phone.–AFP

CNN-Turk’s Ankara correspondent Hande Firat, who took the call, has since been fending off lucrative offers for her now globally famous smartphone - including from a Saudi businessman who said he’d pay $250,000 for it. “Everyone is asking about the famous phone,” Firat said in an interview.

“I’ve received hundreds of messages not only from Turkey but dozens of Arab countries... There are those who offer serious amounts of money to buy the phone.” But she said she was ignoring the messages, adding: “I did my job, what journalism required.”