Turkish Authorities Want Muslim Sect Leader Arrested

Published August 12th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Turkish authorities Friday issued an arrest warrant for the leader of an influential Muslim sect for running a criminal organization, the Anatolie news agency reported. 

State Security Court authorities based the warrant for Fethullah Gulen on anti-terrorist legislation, the agency added. 

The Turkish justice minister can now ask for an international arrest warrant against the former Muslim preacher, the news channel NTV reported. 

If he returned to Turkey, he would be arrested upon his arrival. 

Gulen, 61, is leader of a Muslim brotherhood called Nurcu or "Light", and has been evading Turkish authorities for years. 

He has been in the United States for more than one year undergoing medical treatment. 

Gulen is being probed for possible violation of laws prohibiting attempts to undermine the secular order of the Turkish republic and establish a religious state in its place. 

The investigation began after a Turkish TV station broadcast in June a tape of Gulen addressing "our friends in the judiciary and public administration", in which he allegedly called on his followers to undermine the state and work for a religious order. 

"Work patiently at taking control of the state. Do not make mistakes," Gulen was quoted as saying on the tape. 

In a statement from the US state of Pennsylvania Gulen called the tape a forgery and "a plot by gangs and communists." 

The sect, generally considered a moderate Islamic organization, runs several hundred schools and five universities in Turkey, Central Asia and the Middle East. 

Turkish officials say it has set more than 400,000 students against the republic's lay principles. 

It also owns a newspaper, a television station, two radio stations, a news agency, a bank and several other enterprises in Turkey. 

Gulen has gained notoriety over the past 40 years, mainly through his sermons - ANKARA (AFP) 

 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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