A popular pro-government Turkish cleric has said that some 2,000 Salafi associations in Turkey have started to take up arms and train their members.
“There are 2,000 [Salafi] associations. These associations are taking up arms; their members have pump-rifles. They are preparing for a civil war. They are preparing for an armed conflict especially in Batman, Adıyaman areas,” Ahmet Mahmut Ünlü, also known as Cübbeli Ahmet Hoca, said on Sept. 9.
Ünlü, a preacher from the İsmailağa order of Naqshbandi Sufis, said that these Salafi associations' members have been threatening people with death and warned the government to be careful against them.
“Stop this arming [of associations]. We can come to a point where we can no longer tackle this issue. One of them can declare a jihad, whereas another will say 'I am mahdi.' How are these [associations] allowed? They need to be brought under control,” Ünlü said.
The Salafi movement, also called the Salafist movement, is a reform branch movement within Sunni Islam that developed in Al-Azhar Mosque in Egypt in the late 19th century as a response to Western Europe. The movement has recently gained more support in Turkey. Critics accuse Turkish Salafists of joining radical armed groups in Syria.