08/10/2016, 15.53
TURKEY
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New purges in Turkey: 2,500 Religious Affairs officials suspended

In total, the Directorate has sent away 3,672 employees for “involvement” in the 15 July coup. Established to control religion, the agency supervises some 80,000 mosques across the country and its budget is greater than that of the Health Ministry.

Istanbul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Turkey suspended another 2,500 people employed by the Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) for “involvement” in last month’s failed coup, bringing the total number to 3,672 since 15 July.

It is not clear whether other coercive measures will be taken. Some of the suspects were questioned by the national police and are not allowed to leave the country.

The Diyanet employs about 100,00 people. And has a budget greater than that of many ministries, including that of Health.

Established in 1924 to control religious affairs in what was once called a secular "and modern state", the Diyanet is now suspected of having many sympathisers of Fetullah Gulen, once a friend and ally of Turkish President Erdogan, but now accused of masterminding the attempted coup.

In a statement, the Diyanet said “the commission created for this purpose (to find Gulen sympathisers) continued its rigorous work”.

Gulen, who is the leader of the Hizmet “service” movement, strongly denies the accusations and his lawyer said on Friday that Turkey had failed to provide any shred of evidence to support its claims.

Since 15 July, tens of thousands of people in the military, judiciary, civil service and education suspected of links with the movement have been dismissed from their jobs or detained.

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said today around 16,000 had already been remanded in custody ahead of trial whilst another 6,000 people were in detention awaiting initial court hearings.

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