Turkish police detain 79 followers of jailed anti-government Islamist leader

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Alparslan Kuytul

Turkish police detained 79 followers of jailed anti-government Islamist leader Alpaslan Kuytul as they got off a ferry in İstanbul, according to a report by Furkan Haber, the group’s online news outlet, on Monday.

The group, made up of men, women and children, were reportedly travelling from Eminönü on the European side of İstanbul to Üsküdar on the Asian side on an outing when the police there told them to take off their scarves bearing the words “Freedom for Alpaslan Kuytul.”

The group, comprising members of Kuytul’s Furkan Foundation, refused to comply and were then told that they were guilty of “praising a crime and a criminal.”

In response, the members of the group reminded the police that their leader had not yet even appeared in court.

The group was made to wait for a long time in the cold weather surrounded by police before being detained.

Some members of the group criticized the detentions and treatment by the police on social media. One of them tweeted a picture of a baby with the words: “As of now I am being taken to the police department with my baby. My crime: carrying a scarf.”

Kuytul was arrested on Jan. 30, 2018 and is being tried on charges of “leading a criminal organization” that allegedly aimed at carrying out activities threatening the public order. The leader of the small Islamist group was an outspoken critic of the Turkish government led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the so-called executive presidential system in the country.

Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a member of parliament for the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, said on Twitter that Turkey had been turned into a huge prison and that the police had violated the freedom of travel and had mistreated even the children.

(Turkish Minute with Stockholm Center for Freedom [SCF])

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