A professor of communications, Muttalip Kutluk Özgüven, has said followers of the Gülen movement, accused by the Turkish government of masterminding a failed coup in 2016, should be sent to rehabilitation camps and subjected to psychological treatment.
Özgüven’s controversial remarks came during a program on the pro-government Akit TV.
The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding the failed coup on July 15, 2016 and labels it a “terrorist organization,” although the movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.
Following the coup attempt, the Turkish government launched a massive crackdown on followers of the movement under the pretext of an anti-coup fight, as a result of which more than 600,000 people have been investigated on allegations of terrorism.
The professor complained that the fight against the Gülen movement is not being adequately conducted.
“This fight cannot be carried out only with law enforcement measures. We need to establish rehabilitation camps. We need to take Fetö [a phrase used by the Turkish government to refer to the Gülen movement as a terrorist organization] members who have not been involved in a crime to these camps and give them psychological treatment,” said Özgüven.
He also said these people had earlier taken advantage of benefits from the Turkish state such education, so they have to serve the state.
“Their bodies do not belong to them. They have to serve Turkey’s interests. So I can’t accept these people being against the state. We have not used psychological methods on them,” he said in remarks that attracted widespread criticism on social media.
Özgüven has been accused of advising the use of Hitler-era techniques for Gülen movement followers, who have been under unprecedented government pressure for the past several years.
The professor came under fire again in May when he said during another program on Akit TV that “between the ages of 13 and 17 is the ideal time to give birth. A person at this age is a super woman.” He said girls at this age have the perfect body for childbirth.
Özgüven’s remarks led to a public outcry, with many accusing him of promoting child abuse and teenage pregnancies in a country where such incidents are already common.