Turkish security forces arrest Islamic movement leader

Alparslan Kuytul

Turkish security forces have conducted raids against a leading Islamic movement in the country, Furkan Vaqfi, and arrested its leader Sheikh Alparslan Kuytul.

According to Turkish media, the raids were conducted mainly in Adana city where the leader of Furkan Vaqfi, Sheikh Kuytul, was detained along with 21 members of the Furkan movement.

Alparslan Kuytul, who studied at the Faculty of Shari‘ah and Law at al-Azhar University in Cairo, founded the Furkan movement in 1994 and has dramatically increased its educational and social work within Turkey over the past ten years.

According to Hurriyet Daily news: “Units from the police’s anti-terror and anti-smuggling and organised crime departments raided the headquarters of the foundation and home addresses of its members in the early hours of January 30, forcing open its doors and storming the premises… Following the operations, the Adana Governor’s Office banned all public protests against the operation.”

Turkish media said Sheikh Kuytul and other detainees are reportedly accused of “disturbing public order” and “establishing a criminal organisation,,” even though Furkan Vaqfi has been openly operating in Turkey since 1994.

Immediately after the arrests, the government AKP media accused Furkan Vaqfi of seemingly contradictory accusations, such as being connected to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and being an agent of the United Arab Emirates. Some pro-AKP media outlets described Sheikh Kuytul’s opposition to President Erdogan’s attack on the Syrian town of Afrin as being supportive of Kurdish militants.

Furkan Vaqfi has been opposed to many of the ruling AKP party’s policies in Turkey. On numerous occasions Sheikh Kuytul stated that the rise of the AKP party was facilitated by NATO regimes in order to pacify the Islamic segment of Turkish society.

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Sheikh Kuytul also called out Recep Tayyib Erdogan’s spat with Israel’s former President Shimon Peres in Davos in 2009 as “a theatre to put on an Islamic veneer on the AKP.”

Apart from regular criticism of AKP’s domestic policies, Sheikh Kuytul also strategically differed with Erdogan on key foreign policy issues.

For example, Furkan Vaqfi has defined the situation in Syria as a sectarian trap set up by NATO powers.

Furkan Vaqfi has never been actively involved in Turkish politics and its main focus has been on social and educational work.

Its supporters say that the ruling authorities consider it a threat because of its popularity and following was growing amongst key segments of AKP’s constituency, namely traditional Sunni Muslims.

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