Cleric Gulen denies involvement in Turkey's foiled military coup

Condemning the bid, the cleric who now lives in Pennsylvania said he found the accusations levelled against him and his followers insulting

Cleric Gulen denies involvement in Turkey

Fethullah Erdogan

Terming the accusation of Ankara baseless, leader of the Hizmet Movement Fethullah Gulen distanced himself from the failed military coup in turkey.

Condemning the bid, the cleric who now lives in the Poconos, Eastern Pennsylvania said he found the accusations levelled against him and his followers insulting.

“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,” he said.

In a statement published in website of the Alliance for Shared Values, a non-profit organization run by his admirers, he said that he will pray to God for Turkey, for Turkish citizens, and for all those currently in Turkey.

“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,” Gulen stated.

The 75-year-old moderate Muslim scholar was accused of masterminding the attempted coup by  Turkish leaders including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag, and the acting chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Ümit Dündar.

As soon news about the coup attempt came out, Erdogan accused Gulen and his organization of treason and bid to topple his government.

Accusing him of apparent involvement in creating the Friday night turmoil, Tayyip Erdogan said his country won’t be frightened with this kind of uprising and Turkey cannot be governed from Pennsylvania.

"They were being told what to do from Pennsylvania," he said after he arrived at Istanbul International Airport from Marmaris where he was holidaying.

Interestingly, this is not the first time Erdogan has accused the leader of Hizmet movement, reportedly the world’s biggest Muslim network.

Both, who used to maintain a very warm friendly relation, turned foes, after  crucial bribery allegations surfaced against some ministers in Erdogan’s cabinet  in 2013.

Fethullah Erdogan

The then Prime Minister Erdogan, who alleged that the corruption probe against the members of his Justice and Development (AK) Party was opened by police officers and prosecutors believed to have connections with Gulen’s movement, embarked on cracking down over the Hizmet’s educational institutions and media in 2013.

This continued till Turkey eventually declared the movement as a terrorist organization which tries to overturn his government and destabilize his nation.

Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag on Friday, taking the side of the party chief, has said in a television interview that Gulenists have a role in the attempted coup, a Reuters report says.

Ümit Dündar, the acting chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has also said that the armed forces is determined to remove members of the hizmet movement from their ranks.

However, Hizmet movement, in its own statement published in the website of the Alliance of Shared Values called these allegations "highly irresponsible."

“For more than 40 years, Fethullah Gulen and Hizmet participants have advocated for, and demonstrated their commitment to, peace and democracy,” the statement reads.

Dismissing the verbal attack mounted by ‘pro-Erdogan circles,’ the organization slammed military interventions in domestic politics.