Leader of anti-government religious group detained in Turkey

The leader of an Islamic religious sect which has become seen as increasingly anti-government is among 20 members of his group detained in the Anatolian cities of Adana, Niğde and Elazığ this morning, left-nationalist news website OdaTV said.

Alpaslan 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 sect on the grounds that it was a “criminal organisation” which aimed 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.

The detentions were carried out under high security, with water cannons and riot police being deployed to the group’s headquarters in Adana, OdaTV said.