Foreign minister Bert Koenders has summoned the Turkish ambassador to explain claims that the government’s imam and mosque organisastion Diyanet is collecting information about what it calls ‘Gülen sympathisers’.
Koenders described the claims as worrying and unacceptable and wants the ambassador to clarify the situation, broadcaster NOS said.
Last week Turkish media reported Diyanet had told a Turkish parliamentary commission it was collecting information in 38 countries. The Netherlands was one of the countries listed.
On Wednesday, the Telegraaf said Diyanet’s current chairman in the Netherlands, Yusuf Acar, used to work at the Turkish embassy in The Hague and has admitted passing on names as part of that role.
However, the names were collected on the basis of internet information and there is no question espionage was involved, he told the paper.
The list is said to include several members of the Christian Democratic party CDA, which has a large Turkish membership.
CDA leader Sybrand Buma has demanded Acar be deported. ‘This is a bizarre and unacceptable way for a member of the embassy staff to behave,’ he told website Nu.nl.
The Turkish government holds followers of Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen responsible for the failed military coup in the summer. Tens of thousands of people in Turkey have been arrested.
The Dutch branch of Diyanet has issued a statement denying any involvement in collecting names, NOS said.
In August, Turkish state news agency Anadolu has published an article listing companies and organisations in the Netherlands which it says are allied to the Gülen, leading prime minister Mark Rutte and Koenders to criticise Turkey for its unwanted interference in the Dutch Turkish community.
The Anadolu list includes schools, cultural institutions and business organisations which it says support Gülen, who has lived in the US for the past 19 years.
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