Controversial Turkish imam warns followers country will need cleansing of ‘traitors’ in YouTube sermon

Turkish imam Ahmet Mahmut Ünlü in a controversial YouTube sermon posted on Saturday warned his followers the country may need a cleansing of “traitors,” Turkish media reported.

Ünlü said Turkey was currently under threat from foreign nations such as Greece, Syria and Kurdistan in northern Iraq. In addition to foreign threats, Ünlü said there were many traitors within the country. “We may need to wage another war of independence,” he said. “There are many enemies of the state and of our religion, and we may have to get rid of them.”

Ünlü warned his followers to stock up on cash and food in case the country enters a state of war.

Ünlü is a popular preacher and the spiritual leader of the İsmailağa order of Naqshibandi Sufis.

Journalists and members of the public criticized Ünlü’s sermon, saying he was inciting fear and enmity among the public. Many said Ünlü was threatening the secular and anti-government segments of society,

One lawyer said authorities should immediately launch an investigation into Ünlü.


Another social media user said Ünlü was openly threatening some parts of society.


This is not the first time the controversial imam has claimed a civil war was imminent.

Previously accusing the Religious Affairs Directorate of losing control over mosques, Ünlü said Salafi and Wahhabi groups were growing stronger. “There are 2,000 Salafi associations, and they are taking up arms. They are preparing for armed conflict, especially in southeastern Turkey,” he warned.

The Salafi movement, also called the Salafist movement, is a reform branch within Sunni Islam that developed at the Al-Azhar Mosque in Egypt in the late 19th century as a response to Western Europe. The movement has recently gained more support in Turkey. Critics accuse Turkish Salafists of joining radical armed groups in Syria.

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