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Watch: Islamic cleric blamed for ‘Turkey coup’ wants international probe (2 video)

fethullah gülen1Renowned exiled Muslim cleric, Fethullah Gülen, who has denied allegations by the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, that he orchestrated the failed coup, is calling for an international probe into the allegations, saying he does not trust the Turkish government and the judiciary to carry out a fair investigation.

Turkish officials say that nearly 8,000 police officers have been suspended, on suspicion of having links to the coup attempt. Some 6,000 members of the judiciary and military, including generals, have also been detained.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to purge state bodies of the “virus” that caused the revolt. The US Secretary of State, John Kerry, has stressed the importance of democratic rule.

Gülen on Saturday condemned in strongest terms the attempted coup by some soldiers, and also denied instigating the botched attempt to overthrow the government.

“I condemn, in the strongest terms, the attempted military coup in Turkey. Government should be won through a process of free and fair elections, not force. I pray to God for Turkey, for Turkish citizens, and for all those currently in Turkey that this situation is resolved peacefully and quickly.”

In one of his rare interviews, Fethullah Gulen told reporters at his Pennsylvania compound in the United States, that he knows only a “minute fraction” of his legions of sympathizers in Turkey, so he cannot speak to their “potential involvement” in the attempted coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“You can think about many motivations of people who staged this coup. They could be sympathizers of the opposition party. They could be sympathizers of the nationalist party. It could be anything; I can say that, if there is such a claim that there were people [among the perpetrators] whom I knew, whom I motivated and lead, people who acted with my orders, let’s have an international committee investigate this matter. Let them investigate if there was such a thing and let them make a decision. I will comply with whatever the result is, even if it is a lie… I will comply even if the committee is bribed and signs and fills papers that calumniate. But only a big international organization should do the investigation, in my humble opinion” Gulen, who has lived in the US for more than 15 years, said through an interpreter.

Watch video of the cleric’s call for probe

The reclusive cleric, who very rarely speaks to reporters, talked about the failed overthrow attempt shortly after Erdogan demanded that the United States extradite him. US Secretary of State John Kerry said the Obama administration would entertain an extradition request but Turkey would have to prove wrongdoing by Gulen.

Looking frail, Gulen, who is in his mid-70s, sat on a sofa in a large reception room outside his living quarters, with an aide taking his blood pressure before the news conference.

‘Persecuted and harassed’

He said he wouldn’t have returned to Turkey even if the coup had succeeded, fearing he would be “persecuted and harassed.”

“This is a tranquil and clean place and I enjoy and I live my freedom here. Longing for my homeland burns in my heart, but freedom is also equally important,” said Gulen, who lives on the grounds of the Golden Generation Worship & Retreat Center, an Islamic retreat founded by Turkish-Americans.

He has criticized Erdogan, his onetime ally, over the Turkish leader’s increasingly authoritarian rule. The Erdogan regime has launched a broad campaign against Gulen’s movement in Turkey and abroad, purging civil servants suspected of ties to the movement, seizing businesses and closing some media organizations.

In the United States, a lawyer hired by the Turkish government has lodged numerous accusations against a network of about 150 publicly funded charter schools started by followers of Gulen, whose philosophy blends a mystical form of Islam with staunch advocacy of democracy, education, science and interfaith dialogue.

Nobody associated with the US schools has been charged with wrongdoing.

‘No tolerance’

On Saturday, Gulen denounced Erdogan over what he called the government’s “repression and persecution” of Gulen’s followers in Turkey.

“It appears that they have no tolerance for any movement, any group, any organization that is not under their total control,” Gulen said.

Given the chance to deliver a message directly to the Turkish leader, Gulen demurred.

“If I were to send him a message, he would probably consider it as a slur and reject it,” Gulen said, adding, “but I have always prayed for myself and for him. I have prayed to God to lead us to the straight path, to the virtuous path.”

About 150 supporters of Erdogan protested outside the compound Saturday, chanting and waving signs.

Coup may have been staged by President Erdogan – Fethullah Gulen

According to the Independent Newspaper, Fethullah Gulen has also suggested that the coup may have been staged by President Erdogan just to get at his opponents.

‘There is a possibility that it could be a staged coup and it could be meant for further accusations [against the Gülenists]’, Fethullah Gulen said.

He also told The Guardian: “I don’t believe that the world believes the accusations made by President Erdoğan. Gülen, who now lives in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, leads a popular movement called Hizmet which split from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over a corruption scandal in 2013.

“As someone who suffered under multiple military coups during the past five decades, it is especially insulting to be accused of having any link to such an attempt. I categorically deny such accusations,” he said in a statement.

The government insisted that despite Mr. Gulen’s denial, the cleric’s movement was responsible for the coup attempt.

The 75-year old imam went into self-imposed exile when he moved from Turkey to the United States in 1999 and settled in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania. He rarely speaks to journalists and has turned down interview requests from CNN for more than four years.

Supporters describe Gulen as a moderate Muslim cleric who champions interfaith dialogue. Promotional videos show him meeting with Pope John Paul II in the Vatican in the 1990s. He also met frequently with rabbis and Christian priests in Turkey.

Gulen has a loyal following — known as Gulenists — in Turkey, who all subscribe to the Hizmet movement.

Watch video of Gulen’s endorsement of democratic rule 20 years ago

About Hizmet Movement

Hizmet is a global initiative inspired by Gulen, who espouses what The New York Times has described as “a moderate, pro-Western brand of Sunni Islam that appeals to many well-educated and professional Turks.”

Nongovernmental organizations founded by the Hizmet movement, including hundreds of secular co-ed schools, free tutoring centers, hospitals and relief agencies, are credited with addressing many of Turkey’s social problems.

The preacher and his movement also spawned a global network of schools and universities that operate in more than 100 countries.

In the United States, this academic empire includes Harmony Public Schools, the largest charter school network in Texas.

Within Turkey, volunteers in the Gulen movement also own TV stations, the largest-circulation newspaper, gold mines and at least one Turkish bank.

By: citifmonline.com/Ghana

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