Turkish sects fill vacuum left by purged Gülen movement – Foreign Policy

After the Turkish government launched a massive purge against its former ally the Gülen movement, the group accused of orchestrating a coup attempt in 2016, other Islamist sects have moved to fill the vacuum it left behind, Foreign Policy magazine said.

When the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002, it joined forces with the movement led by preacher Fethullah Gülen, which Turkey’s secularists accused of infiltrating state institutions, particularly the judiciary, police force and military, to expand its power.

But the relations between the AKP and the Gülen movement started to deteriorate as of 2012, when the Gulenists targeted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s entourage and attempted to have some of his close allies jailed.

Following the failed putsch in 2016, Ankara sacked some 150,000 public employees and arrested more than 34,000 people over ties to Gülen movement. 

“After sweeping purges, Ankara claimed it had expunged the malignant Gulenists,” the Foreign Policy said. “Yet since then, investigative journalists have pointed to the rise of other sects in their place.”

Turkish journalists said last year that a shadowy religious group called “Menzilciler” after the area their sect was founded has been infiltrating the police force, but Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has denied the allegations.