Turkish deputy PM targets Gülen movement, saying it is Turkey’s ISIL

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Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan (2nd R), Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş (R) and Head of the Religious Affairs Directorate Mehmet Görmez (3rd R) attend the opening ceremony of 9th Eurasian Islamic Council in İstanbul on Tuesday.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş has targeted the Gülen movement, a global civil society movement accused by Turkey’s government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of masterminding a failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, saying it is no different than the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Speaking at the ninth meeting of the Eurasian Islamic Council in İstanbul on Tuesday, Kurtulmuş said, “We can even say that Turkey’s Daesh [Arabic acronym for ISIL] is this organization.”

Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and Erdoğan claim that US-based Turkish scholar Fethullah Gülen, whose teachings are the inspiration of the Gülen movement, was the mastermind behind the violent coup attempt that killed over 240 people and injured a thousand others on July 15, while Gülen strongly denies any involvement.

The Turkish government has designated the faith-based Gülen movement, operating charities, schools and businesses around the world, as a terrorist organization and has launched a widespread crackdown on suspected members since the failed coup.

Although Gülen called for an international investigation into the coup attempt, Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government launched a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

According to a report published by the German Focus magazine in August, Turkish government members decided to put the blame for the coup attempt on Gülen half an hour after the uprising and agreed to begin a purge of Gülen followers the next day.

The German magazine wrote its report based on interceptions of phone calls by English intelligence, emails and SMS messages of members of the Turkish government.

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