İstanbul Municipality changes street names evoking Gülen movement

The İstanbul Municipality on Thursday unanimously approved the renaming of 192 streets across the metropolitan area that may bring to mind the Gülen movement which was inspired by the teachings of the US-based Turkish-Muslim scholar Fethullah Gülen.

During the fourth session of the municipality’s December meetings, changes to the street names were approved by members of the municipality from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) after alleged complaints from the public, according to report by pro-government Hürriyet daily news.

According to the report, among the revised names was “Gülen Street” in the Eyüp district which became “Martyr Ömer Halisdemir Street,” along with 25 other streets bearing the word “Gülen.” The late soldier Ömer Halisdemir is regarded as a key figure in thwarting the attempted military takeover.

As part of the changes, a street bearing the name of former Turkish international footballer Hakan Şükür’s in İstanbul’s Tuzla district has also been changed to “Martyr Halil Kantarcı Street.”

In addition, four street names including the word “parallel” have also been changed, based on their alleged reference to the “Parallel State Structure,” a term previously used by the government under the rule of autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to refer to the Gülen movement in the aftermath of Dec. 17/25, 2013 corruption scandal that incriminated him, his cabinet ministers and family members.

The report said that other versions included names allegedly linked to the Gülen movement including “Zaman,” “Samanyolu,” “Sızıntı,” “Aksiyon,” “Cihan,” “Himmet,” “Hizmet” and “Dumanlı.”

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. Turkey’s Interior Minister announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665  people have been arrested. Previously, on December 13, 2017, The Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

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