Duvar English

Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has denied reports that religious cults infiltrated into the state, saying that they are “lies and provocations.”

In a series of tweets, Soylu said that it’s unacceptable for certain groups to control and manage politics and the state outside the boundaries of democracy and the judicial system.

“It’s unacceptable for these groups to infiltrate into certain positions and gain power from that,” Soylu said on Oct. 10.

“However, these faith groups are acceptances of our historical process, traditions and country. Besides, it’s a natural outcome of a democratic life for an individual to have faith preferences,” he said.

Soylu’s remarks came following debates on religious cults’ infiltration into state institutions, mainly the Health Ministry.

The relations of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) with religious cults have been a subject of debate in Turkey for many years, especially after the July 15, 2016 attempted coup – widely believed to have been orchestrated by U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, an ally-turned-foe of the AKP and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The botched coup that killed over 250 people followed years of Gülenist infiltration in state institutions. The government is currently being criticized for not distancing itself from Islamist groups and letting cults fill the gap in state institutions that opened after widespread dismissals of Gülenists.

One of those groups is Menzil, which is said to be active mainly in the Health Ministry. Opposition voices have been warning against the Menzil group infiltrating into the state similar to Gülenists.

According to Soylu, no such infiltration is the case in any of the state institutions.

“I’m saying this as the Interior Minister: The reports that a belief group manages certain parts of the state through infiltration are a new area of abuse and are not correct. They are lies. They are provocations,” he said.