Turkish minister of culture says 169,000 books to be withdrawn from libraries

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has said 169,141 copies of books are planned to be withdrawn from public libraries as part of an ongoing investigation into the faith-based Gülen movement, the İhlas news agency (İHA) reported on Wednesday.

Speaking at Parliament’s general assembly, Kurtulmuş responded to a question regarding the number of books withdrawn from public libraries after an attempted coup on July 15, 2016.

Kurtulmuş said there are 1,142 libraries under the administration of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and that the books under investigation were either written by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen or under pseudonyms referring to him. The minister also said the books had been acquired by the ministry either by donation or purchase between the years 1982 and 2014 and that they were published by printing houses that were shut down by government decree issued during an ongoing state of emergency declared after the failed coup.

The government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding the failed coup attempt of July 15 even though the movement denies any involvement.

The government’s crackdown on the movement, however, is not limited to the period following the coup attempt since the management of many organizations affiliated with the movement have already been seized over the course of the past three years.

Turkey’s then-Deputy Prime Minister Kurtulmuş said in July that the government had seized 966 companies from people allegedly linked to the Gülen movement.

In addition, 4,888 properties of those 966 companies were also seized and transferred to the Finance Ministry,” said Kurtulmuş.

Immediately after the failed coup attempt the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 civil servants, including governors, judges, prosecutors, teachers, soldiers and police, since July 15, 2016 through government decrees issued as part of the state of emergency.

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