Meet the Pennsylvania Resident Blamed for the Attempted Coup in Turkey
After members of the Turkish military attempted to overthrow the country’s government on Friday, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan placed the blame on a man living in the Poconos.
The Pennsylvania resident in question is Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric who’s a long-standing enemy of Erdogan. Gulen is known for leading a movement called “Hizmet,” which has gained him followers in both the U.S. and Turkey, according to the Guardian.
Shortly after the failed coup, as tanks, protestors, civilians, and military took to the street in confrontations, Erdogan called out Gulen for organizing the coup.
“Turkey will not be run from a house in Pennsylvania,” Erdogan said during a FaceTime interview with CNN Turk television. “Turkey is not a country that can be bought or sold cheaply.”
Gulen is a reclusive, somewhat mysterious Islamic scholar who lives in a compound in Saylorsburg, according to ABC. He left Turkey some time after 1999, and he now leads a very private life and seems to be in ill health, the Inquirer reports.
Members of the Turkish government, including Erdogan, have blamed Gulen for upheaval in Turkey for at least three years now, according to ABC.
But Gulen has strongly denounced the accusations and has issued a statement condemning the attempted military coup:
“Government should be won through a process of free and fair elections, not force.
I pray to God for Turkey, for Turkish citizens, and for all those currently in Turkey that this situation is resolved peacefully and quickly.
As someone who suffered under multiple military coups during the past five decades, it is especially insulting to be accused of having any link to such an attempt. I categorically deny such accusations.”
In an interview with the Associated Press, Gulen said he’s not aware of everyone who follows his teachings, and that “you can think about many motivations of people who staged this coup.”
Relations between Turkey and the U.S. have heated up following Erdogan’s claims.
In a speech televised Saturday, Erdogan said, “I have a message for Pennsylvania. You have engaged in treason against this nation. If you dare, come back to your country.”
Secretary of state John Kerry shot down suggestions from Erdogan that the U.S. had anything to do with the attempted coup, calling them “utterly false and harmful to our bilateral relations,” during an interview with CNN.
Kerry said the country could look into extraditing Gulen if Turkey could provide enough evidence that Gulen was involved in the attempted coup.
Both Gulen and Erdogan are entrenched in controversy. Much of the country is divided over Erdogan’s leadership.
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