Turkey’s Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ said on Monday that followers of the Gülen movement, which the government accuses of masterminding a failed coup last summer, change their Turkish names in order to infiltrate Christian groups in Western countries.
Speaking with the Milliyet daily on Monday, Bozdağ said Gülen movement followers take Christian names and present themselves as members of Christian society in order to infiltrate the institutions of Western nations.
Underlining that the group has been educating Americans in schools in the US and imposing on them the ideology of the movement, Bozdağ said: “This terror group is a threat to Turkey’s national security as well as a threat to your [US] national security.”
“FETÖ members change their Turkish names in the US. They take Christian names, take different names and join Christian groups as if they were Christian converts in order to derive prestige and power from those groups. There have been many similar cases in recent days. What I say now is that if you [the Western world] don’t take measures, similar to those Turkey took against this group, they will betray you. Why wouldn’t those who betrayed their own state and nation not betray the US and the other countries? … They might smile [at me] saying, ‘What is this minister talking about?’ but they will probably have to take tougher measures [against Gülen followers] in 15 or 20 years,” he said.
Since the Turkish government launched a large-scale witch hunt against followers of the faith-based Gülen movement, inspired by the views Turkish scholar Fethullah Gülen, the movement has been scapegoated for anything that goes wrong in Turkey, and Gülen sympathizers have been alienated in public by the rhetoric used by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) leaders and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Despite Gülen and the movement having denied the accusations, Erdoğan 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.
Over 138,000 people have been dismissed from their jobs, more than 106,000 were detained and nearly 53,000 jailed over alleged links to the movement.