Islamic scholar Gülen sues interior minister over coup accusation
ANKARA – Cihan News Agency
The government accuses Fethullah Gülen's movement of orchestrating the damaging graft probes in which four ministers have been implicated. CİHAN photoIslamic scholar Fethullah Gülen has sued Interior Minister Efkan Ala for 50,000 Turkish Liras, over Ala’s remarks insinuating that he was seeking to topple the government.
Ala stirred debate with a speech on Jan. 27 in which he staunchly defended Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, accusing Gülen of attempting to stage a coup.
“You say stop to a leader who said ‘one minute’ to the international colonial order. Who are you? How come you revolt and attempt to stage a coup,” Ala said.
Lawyers representing the U.S.-based scholar said that although the interior minister did not mention Gülen’s name in his speech, the Islamic scholar was clearly the target of his words.
“Making efforts to set people up against one another and stir hostility by expressing those words is a behavior morally unacceptable,” lawyer Nurullah Albayrak said.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) had repeatedly accused the Gülen movement of orchestrating the damaging graft probes in which four ministers have been implicated.
Albayrak described the accusations as “slander,” saying that Cabinet members were trying to convert Gülen into a target.
“Regardless of their purpose, the words used by the defendant are a heavy and unfair attack on the personal rights [of Gülen],” he added.
Erdoğan has repeatedly denounced the existence of a “parallel state,” referring to Gülen’s followers, who are known to hold key positions inside the police and the judiciary and who allegedly take decisions upon the movement’s orders.
The government has responded to the graft scandal with a massive purge within the police department and among prosecutors. It has also stepped up the preparation of a judicial bill that has drawn controversy for increasing the executive’s control over the judiciary.
Efkan Ala had replaced Muammer Güler, whose son is still under custody as part of the graft investigation, following a Cabinet reshuffle Dec. 25.