Istanbul: Turkey widened its massive postcoup purge to schools and the media, vowing to root out supporters of an exiled Islamic cleric it accuses of orchestrating the attempted power grab.
Global alarm is mounting over the retaliatory action since Friday’s failed putsch, which has already seen a massive crackdown in the military, police and judiciary and thousands detained including top generals.
Wednesday’s action largely targeted supporters of Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania but retains vast interests in Turkey ranging from media to finance to schools and wields influence in various apparatus including the judiciary and police. “We will pull them out by the roots… so that no clandestine terrorist organisation, no separatist organisation, will dare to betray Turkey again,” Yildirim warned.
The government suspended 15,200 state education employees allegedly linked to the “Fethullah Terrorist Organisation” — its name for Gulen’s network — and demanded the resignation of almost 1,600 deans from private and state universities. The authorities also cancelled licences for radio and television stations said to be linked to the so-called Gulenists.
The state-run Anadolu news agency said 24 media outlets were hit, while 34 journalists were stripped of their press cards. Already, almost 9,000 people including police, judges and government officials had been sacked in the days following Friday’s coup. About 9,300 people have also been detained, including top generals accused of treason for allegedly masterminding the plot as well as soldiers, police and judges.
Turkey coup: Exiled Muslim cleric denies any involvement
Yildirim nevertheless warned Turks against exacting “revenge” on backers of the attempted overthrow, after disturbing pictures emerged of rough treatment meted out to suspects. Erdogan spokesman Ibrahim Kalin defended the mass detentions and called on Washington to cooperate in handing over Gulen. Ankara has long accused Gulen, once a close Erdogan ally sharing his Islamo-conservative views, of operating a parallel state in Turkey with the aim of toppling the government.AFP