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Members of anti-gov’t foundation face police intervention, detention at protests

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Turkish police used force to disrupt protests staged by members of the Furkan Foundation, an anti-government religious group, in three cities across Turkey over the weekend, detaining dozens of its members, the TR724 news website reported on Monday.

Members of the Furkan Foundation gathered in Bursa, Mardin and Siirt to launch the “Justice and Freedom March” to protest the recent arrest of seven of their members, which they argued was unlawful, but the police forcefully intervened in the protests, detaining dozens including women with children.

In Mardin, the police refused to allow the protesters to hold the march and started to check their IDs. When a male police officer wanted to check the ID of a female protester wearing a face veil, an altercation occurred. The police detained 22 men and 16 women including those with children and prevented the protesters from recording the incidents on their mobile phones.

In Siirt, the police intervened when foundation members attempted to stage a demonstration, detaining at least 10 people.

In Bursa, the police intervened in the protest and detained dozens of people including women with children and pregnant women. A police officer allegedly removed the headscarf of a woman, who then described the ill-treatment on social media.

An outspoken critic of the policies of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, Alparslan Kuytul, the foundation’s president, harshly criticized the police’s mistreatment of the foundation’s members.

“The police removing the headscarf of our sister is hatred of Islam. The people who engaged in this hatred must be removed from office,” he said.

Four members of the group were detained on Sept. 9, 2021 on charges of abducting businessman Koray Sarısaçlı in Adana province and were allegedly subjected to torture and denigrating treatment at the police department for four days. They were released by a court in September, only to be detained the next day upon the objection of the prosecutor.

Sarısaçlı on Sept. 18 said he was not abducted by members of the group. However, two months later, he changed his testimony upon pressure to increase the charges against the group members.

Two more members were arrested on Dec. 27 and another on Jan. 4 on the same charges.

The Furkan Foundation is known for being critical of the Turkish government and for strongly advocating that religion and politics should not mix.

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