An Islamic cleric whom Turkey accuses of masterminding July's abortive coup again condemned a Turkish government crackdown on his supporters, saying Thursday that his "heart is aching."
In videotaped remarks to the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia,
Fethullah Gulen said the Turkish government is using the attempted coup
to justify persecuting his followers, who he said are being "subjected
to oppression and tyranny, molestation and unlawful acquisition of their
Turkish President Recep Tayyip
Erdogan blames Gulen for the failed uprising, which left at least 270
people dead, and said he considers him and his followers to be
terrorists. This week, Turkey sent the United States a formal request
demanding the arrest of Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile on a
compound in the Pocono Mountains.
Gulen has denied any
involvement in the coup attempt. He said Thursday the crackdown on his
supporters will be recorded as "dark pages in world history."
Turkish government declared a state of emergency after the attempted
coup, rounding up tens of thousands of Gulen's followers, firing
government employees it suspects of having ties to Gulen and closing or
seizing thousands of institutions, including schools.
crackdown has raised concerns among Turkey's Western allies and human
rights organizations, which have urged the government to show restraint.
said he thinks international human rights organizations, intellectuals
and legal organizations "may react and push states to act, saying enough
"Perhaps in realizing that they cannot
afford to be completely cut off from the world, Turkish leaders might
change course," he said.
Gulen's movement runs charities, schools and businesses worldwide. Turkey has designated the movement a terrorist organization.
Published on ABC News, 15 September 2016, Thursday