The Turkish ambassador to the Netherlands expects Turkey to make an official request for help in tackling associations allied to Muslim cleric Fetthulah Gulen, according to broadcaster NOS.
‘After all, supporters of IS are also being tackled,’ Sadik Arslan said in an interview. Ankara regards the Gulen movement as a terrorist organisation and says it was behind the recent failed military coup.
In the interview, Arslan said schools which are allied to Gulen are among the institutions which should be dealt with. The Netherlands, he said, is financing these educational establishments even though they are closely linked to a movement with ‘dark plans’.
The Netherlands and other EU countries have criticised the arrest of thousands of lawyers, security officials and teachers following the failed coup, because they are said to support Gulen.
However, said Arslan ‘there are hundreds of confessions and documents which show Gulen was behind the coup.’ The Netherlands and Europe should be ’embracing Turkey, not sympathising’ with the people behind the coup, he said.
Asked about the rising tensions between different Turkish groups in the Netherlands, Arslan said that Dutch Turks who use violence against Gulen supporters should be dealt with by the police.
At the same time however, the tension is understandable, he said. ‘Something terrible happened to the Turkish people. You can’t really expect them to embrace the followers of Gulen.’
Dutch MPs have condemned the ambassador’s comments. ‘It is a ridiculous and inappropriate call which will only increase tensions in the Netherlands,’ D66 parliamentarian Sjoerd Sjoerdsma told news agency ANP.
‘The Erdogan regime must stop this witch hunt immediately and certainly not export it to the Netherlands.’
Labour MP Michiel Servaes said the comments were ‘not sensible’. ‘The Netherlands has rightly condemned the coup but is now rightly worried about the measures Erdogan is taking to put pressure on the rule of law,’ he said.
‘What we need now in the Netherlands is a period of calm and dialogue,’ Servaes said. ‘We don’t need statements which put more pressure on the relationship between Dutch Turks.’
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