İstanbul deputy Metin Külünk has said Turkey’s top religious officials should declare supporters of the Gülen movement apostates, the Yeniakit daily reported on Monday.

The Gülen movement is accused of orchestrating a botched coup attempt last summer, a claim the movement strongly denies.

Claiming that there was no way to get rid of Gülenists by calling them “imposters, liars and hypocrites,” Külünk, a close friend of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said: “Turkey’s top religious officials should declare them apostates.”

Külünk, who spoke to journalists in the Turkish Parliament, said he would write letters to 100 religious scholars and ask them to declare followers of the Gülen movement apostates.

The military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 killed 249 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the putsch, the AKP government along with President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen group and initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the group from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

Turkey’s post-coup operations against Gülenists are tantamount to genocide, Renee Vaugeois, a Canadian human rights specialist, said in a recent interviewwith the state-run CBC news last monty.

“This a targeted war on a specific group of people in Turkey and to me that speaks to genocide,” said Vaugeois, the executive director of the Edmonton-based John Humphrey Centre for Peace & Human Rights.

(Turkish Minute)

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