Turkish police arrest anti-government Islamist foundation members

Turkish police arrested 79 followers of jailed anti-government Islamic sect leader Alpaslan Kuytul as they got off a ferry in Istanbul, the group's website FurkanHaber reported.

It said the group, made up of men, women and children, had travelled from Eminönü on the European side of the city to Üsküdar on the Asian side on an outing, but police there demanded they take off scarves carrying the words “Freedom for Alpaslan Kuytul”.

The group, members of Kuytul’s Furkan Foundation, refused to comply and after being made to wait for some hours on Sunday, were arrested for the crime of praising crime and a criminal, the website said.

Some of the group tweeted criticism of the police on social media.

Kuytul was arrested on Jan. 30 and is being tried on charges of leading a criminal organisation that aimed to carry out activities threatening public order. The leader of the small Islamist sect was an outspoken critic Turkey’s Islamist government and the new executive presidential system of government.

Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a member of the parliament for the pro-Kurdish opposition People's Democratic Party said on Twitter that Turkey had been turned into a huge prison, the police had violated the freedom of travel and mistreated even children.