September 14, 2016

Erdoğan’s expat supporters preventing Gülenists from entering mosques

With threats against followers of the Gülen movement — also called Hizmet — becoming common practice among supporters, particularly in Europe, of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, some European expatriate communities now preventing Hizmet members from entering mosques.

At least 35 incidents have been reported involving threats against Hizmet members in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) alone, Ralf Jäger, NRW’s interior minister, told Deutsche Welle on Monday.

Jäger further said that Gülen followers are not allowed into mosques affiliated with the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB), the overseas arm of Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate.

Hizmet members have been prevented from observing Friday prayers in DITIB mosques in the cities of Bergneustadt and Waldbröd in NRW, Jäger said, adding that police found banners hung on the walls of another DITIB mosque in Hagen that read “Infidels out!”

Gülen followers are reportedly called “infidels” in the DITIB-affiliated Süleymaniye Mosque in NRW’s town of Schwerte as well, said the minister.

The imam of a DITIB mosque in the city of Iserlohn in NRW has called on people via his Facebook page to report Gülen followers to the police, while Erdoğan supporters have also called on people not to shop at some eight stores they consider owned by Gülen supporters, the minister stated.

Erdoğan supporters have been detected communicating on the Internet to carry out attacks against schools and youth centers affiliated with the movement, Jäger said, adding that the windows and billboards of such institutions were broken during attacks.

The Turkish government accuses Hizmet of masterminding a coup attempt on July 15 but lacks credible evidence to back up its claims in the eyes of many analysts. The movement, meanwhile, denies involvement, criticizing any intervention into democratically elected administrations.

With a fair trial of coup suspects unlikely to take place any time soon, top state officials have been intensifying with every passing day its discriminatory discourse against Hizmet followers. Divisive language is used by some followers of Erdoğan as well.

Published on Turkish Minute, 14 September 2016, Wednesday