Turkey pressing Netherlands to stop Erdogan detractors

Turkish flag (Photo: Bahar/Wikimedia Commons). (Turkish flag (Photo: Bahar/Wikimedia Commons))

The Netherlands can soon expect an official request from Turkey to help tackle supporters of the Gulen-movement, according to Turkish ambassador to the Netherlands Sadik Arslan in an interview with Dutch broadcaster NOS. He compares this to the fight against terrorist organization ISIS. "The supporters must also be addressed."

Turkey definitely considers the Gulen-movement a terrorist organization. According to Arslan, Turkey will ask for help in addressing, for example, schools in the Netherlands considered to be allied to Gulen. The ambassador said that the Netherlands is funding such institutions while they are closely linked to a movement with "sinister plans".

The ambassador added that he and his country are wounded by criticism from the Netherlands and other EU countries on Turkey's decisions following the attempted coup - thousands of judges, security officials, academics and journalists were arrested for supporting the Gulen-movement. According to him, there is no doubt that the Gulen-movement is behind that attempted coup. "There are hundreds of confessions and documents that prove the Gulen-movement was behind the coup", Arslan said to the broadcaster. "We have more than 2,500 wounded and 250 dead, mostly civilians."

Arslan would like to see the Netherlands support Turkey, like after the attack on Istanbul airport. "The minute of silence in parliament was impressive and Turkish-Dutch felt more than ever like a Dutchman. But the coup was a thousand times worse. The terrorism campaign was continued, our parliament was bombed with F-16's. The Netherlands and Europe should now be embracing Turkey, and not sympathize with the people behind this."

The ambassador can understand why tensions are mounting between the two sides of the Turkish community in the Netherlands. Over the weekend two Turkish organizations were set on fire because they are affiliated with Fethullah Gulen. A number of Gulen supporters reported being threatened because of their affiliations. And a blacklist is circulating on the internet with Turkish organizations and businesses to be boycotted because they show support for the Gulen movement. "Something terrible happened to the Turkish nation", Arslan said. "What did you expect? That the Gulen supporters would be embraced?"

VVD parliamentarian Han Ten Broek thinks that supporting Turkey in hunting down Gulen-supporters is a very bad idea. He wants the Netherlands to "not respond to and disregard" the request, he said to BNR. "Extraditing to a country where justice is not guaranteed, must not happen. The chance is zero."

Fethullah Gulen, the figure behind the Gulen-movement, is currently living in voluntary exile in Pennsylvania in the United States. In a recent opinion piece in the New York Times he called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a dictator who is using the attempted coup to seize a firmer hold on the country. He once again emphasized that he does not approve of the attempted coup -  “Government should be won through a process of free and fair elections, not force" - and again called on the U.S. government not to extradite him.