During the early hours of January 30, state security forces of the Erdogan regime conducted aggressive raids against Turkey’s leading Islamic movement, Furkan Vaqfi and arrested its leader Alparslan Kuytul.
According to pro-regime media, the raids were conducted mainly in Adana city where the leader of Furkan Vaqfi, Sheikh Kuytul, was detained along with 21 members of the Furkan movement.
According to Hurriyet Daily news, “Units from the police’s anti-terror and anti-smuggling and organized crime departments raided the headquarters of the foundation and home addresses of its members in the early hours of January 30, forcing open its doors and storming the premises…Following the operations, the Adana Governor’s Office banned all public protests against the operation.”
According to the Turkish media, Sheikh Kuytul and other detainees are reportedly accused of “disturbing public order” and “establishing a criminal organization” even though Furkan Vaqfi was openly operating in Turkey since 1994.
Immediately after the arrests, the AKP controlled media in Turkey launched a blitzkrieg campaign trying to smear Alparslan Kuytul. The Turkish media libelled the leader of the Furkan Vaqfi with series of mythological accusations, from being connected to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood to being an agent of the anti-Muslim regime in the United Arab Emirates. Along with these ridiculous accusations, some pro-AKP media outlets spun Sheikh Kuytul’s opposition to Erdogan’s aggression on the Syrian town of Afrin as being supportive of Kurdish militants.
Furkan Vaqfi was opposed to many of the AKP’s policies in Turkey. On numerous occasions Sheikh Kuytul stated that the rise of the AKP party in Turkey was facilitated by NATO regimes in order to pacify the Islamic segment of Turkish society.
Sheikh Kuytul also called out Recep Tayyib Erdogan’s spat with Israel’s former President Shimon Peres in Davos in 2009, “a theater to put on an Islamic veneer on the AKP.” Post Davos “conflict” despite political “tensions”, trade relations between Israel and Turkey have developed considerably, increasing by 30% and reaching an all-time high of $4 billion/year.
Apart from regular criticism of AKP’s incompetent domestic policies, Sheikh Kuytul strategically differed with the Erdogan regime on key foreign policy issues.
From day one of the proxy-war against Syria, Furkan Vaqfi refused to peddle the sectarian narrative of the events in Syria and defined the situation as a sectarian trap set up by NATO powers. On the sectarian front, Imam Kuytul has underlined on numerous occasions that “even though we have different perspectives with Shia Muslims on certain matters of jurisprudence, we the Muslims of Turkey never labelled them unbelievers. However, since Turkey agreed in 2011 to house a radar system that is part of NATO’s missile shield against Iran, the sectarian rhetoric in Turkey increased dramatically.”
Furkan Vaqfi was never actively involved in Turkish politics, its main focus was on social and educational work. However, one of the primary “dangers” emanating from Furkan Vaqfi was the fact that its popularity and following was growing amongst key segments of AKP’s constituency, namely the traditional Sunni Muslims of Turkey.
The arrest of Sheikh Kuytul is another manifestation of Erdogan’s duplicity. It will add to the growing cracks among AKP’s primary constituency and increase the chances of internal destabilization within Turkey.
* Alparslan Kuytul is a graduate of the Faculty of Engineering & Architecture and from 1993–1997 he studied at the Faculty of Shari‘ah and Law at al-Azhar University in Cairo. Shaykh Kuytul founded the Furkan movement in 1994 that has dramatically increased its educational and social work within Turkey over the past ten years.