Turkish gov’t detains 21 members of critical religious group, including its leader Kuytul

Turkish government has detained some 21 members of the critical religious Furkan Foundation, including its founder and leader Alparslan Kuytul, on Tuesday in the southern province of Adana on charges of “disturbing public order” and “establishing a criminal organization.”

Turkish police have detained the Furkan Foundation members in dawn raids in Adana province as part of an ongoing investigation launched by the Adana Chief Prosecutor’s Office.

Anti-terror and anti-smuggling and organized crime departments of Adana police raided the headquarters of the foundation and home addresses of its members in the early hours of Tuesday, forcing open its doors and storming the premises. The detentions were carried out under high security, with water cannons and riot police being deployed to the group’s headquarters in Adana.

It was reported that the police have also launched operations against the foundation’s branches in the Central Anatolian province of Niğde and the eastern province of Elazığ. During the searches, police seized a large sum of money from the foundation headquarters, while cybercrime units also searched the IT room in the building. Following the operations, the Adana Governor’s Office banned all public protests against the operation targeting the Furkan Foundation.

Alparslan Kuytul, the leader of the Furkan Foundation, has been outspoken in his criticism of Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and opposition to the move to a presidential system. Authorities had begun an investigation into the conservative group on the allegations that it is a “criminal organisation” which aimed at to “carry out activities that would threaten public order.”

The Furkan Foundation has faced increased government pressure in recent years, with bans from provincial governments on various public activities including on an anti-Israel demonstration it sought to hold last year.

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