Turkey Blames Cleric in US for Coup Attempt

Purge of supporters in military, judiciary is underway
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 16, 2016 10:07 AM CDT
Turkey Blames Cleric in US for Coup Attempt
Damage caused by helicopter bombardments is seen inside Turkey's parliament near the Turkish military headquarters in Ankara.   (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

After a military coup attempt that now appears to be firmly quashed, the Turkish government is focusing its wrath on Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania. The town is home to Fethullah Gulen, an influential cleric who leads a popular movement called Hizmet, and President Recep Tayyib Erdogan blames his followers for the coup attempt that left at least 161 dead in overnight clashes, the New York Times reports. "I have a message for Pennsylvania: You have engaged in enough treason against this nation," Erdogan said early Saturday. "If you dare, come back to your country." Gulen, a moderate Muslim cleric who has lived in the US since 1999, was Erdogan's ally until 2013, when the leader blamed him for corruption allegations. In other coverage:

  • Vox has more on the Gulenist movement, which runs a large network of schools and supports interfaith dialogue, secular democracy, science, and a progressive stance on social issues. Gulen says he condemns the coup attempt "in the strongest terms."

  • The AP reports that John Kerry says the US would consider an extradition request for Gulen, though nothing has been received yet and firm evidence would be required. "We fully anticipate that there will be questions raised about Mr. Gulen," Kerry told reporters. "And obviously we would invite the government of Turkey, as we always do, to present us with any legitimate evidence that withstands scrutiny."
  • The New York Times looks at how the fallout from the coup will make the region's politics even more complicated for the US and Europe, which saw Erdogan's government as a stable and reliable ally. "The danger here is this could spiral out of control and turn into a full-blown civil war," says former US Ambassador to Turkey Eric S. Edelman.
  • CNN reports on how many civilian supporters of Erdogan stood up to the coup attempt, in some cases blocking military vehicles with their cars and even lying down in front of tanks.
  • Almost 3,000 military service members have been arrested and almost the same number of judges have been removed from their duties in what appears to be a nationwide purge of Gulen supporters, the Guardian reports.
  • Reuters reports that Erdogan, who had been vacationing on the country's southeast coast, addressed thousands of supporters after flying into Ankara's airport early Saturday. " This uprising is a gift from God to us because this will be a reason to cleanse our army," he said.
  • Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildirim says 161 people were killed and 1,440 were injured in the coup attempt, but a government source tells the AP that the figures exclude coup plotters, meaning the true toll could be much higher.
  • Greece says it will return a Blackhawk helicopter flown to the country from Turkey, but it will examine the asylum claims made by the eight military members on board, including two majors, the AP reports.
(More Turkey stories.)

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