President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has vowed to level terror charges at those who continue to support the Gülen movement, a global civil society group regarded as a “terrorist” organization by the Turkish president, saying they “would approve of what would happen to them.”
“I would like to appeal those who still want to stay within this structure despite all these documents of treason. Sorry but this means they approve of what would happen to them. Those who stay within a terrorist organization is called a terrorist. What did we say? An illegal structure which looks like legal. From now on, we will call them an illegal terrorist structure or an illegal terrorist organization and we will crack down on them in this way,” Erdoğan said on Saturday during an address at a pro-government religious foundation.
Since a corruption investigation that implicated figures close to the government, as well as government members themselves, came to public attention on Dec. 17, 2013, there have been many similar police operations carried out targeting shopkeepers, teachers, members of the judiciary, journalists and police officers who are accused of being affiliated with the Gülen movement, also known as the Hizmet movement, a grassroots social initiative inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen. The graft probe implicated then-Prime Minister Erdoğan, members of his family and senior AK Party figures.
Erdoğan accused the Gülen movement of plotting to overthrow his government and said sympathizers of the movement within the police department had fabricated the graft scandal. Since then, hundreds of police officers have been detained and some arrested for alleged illegal activity during the course of the investigation. Erdoğan said he would carry out a “witch hunt” against anyone with links to the movement.
The Gülen movement strongly rejects the allegations brought against it. There is not a court decision which declares the movement as a terrorist group either.
Published on Turkish Minute, 30 April 2016, Saturday