Hundreds rally in New York against Gulen movement

NEW YORK - Hundreds of people from New York's Turkish, Arab and Bosnian communities rallied Sunday to protest the activities of a movement led by Pennsylvania-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen, whose followers are accused of plotting to seize power in Turkey.

As many as 300 protesters converged on the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza at the junction of 47th St. and 2nd Avenue despite cold weather, waving Turkish and American flags and carrying placards reading "The People's Voice, Not One Person's Voice" and "Stop Using U.S. Taxpayers' Money to Fund Your Coup."

Gulen's so-called Hizmet ("Service") movement is accused of forming a criminal gang -- popularly referred to as the "parallel state" -- within Turkey's key institutions including the judiciary and the police.

The movement runs a vast network of for-profit educational institutions in the U.S. and across the world.

"We are here to raise our voice against a group which is trying to sow discord between the country in which we were born and the country in which we earn our living," Necati Ozer, one of the organizers of the rally, said.

The Turkish government accuses Gulen supporters of lobbying unspecified foreign elements to topple President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's administration and of being behind online leaks of spying and phone hacking on high-ranking officials.

"It is unfortunate and sad that there are people who have come to this country to mislead other people," Anthony Whitmore, an American, said. "When they mislead other people, they tarnish all of the goodness of the people who are here."

Ashraf Ismail from Egypt said they were at the rally to show their gratitude to the Turkish government for "the way it deals with the human rights issues in Egypt."

Riza Ates, 30, said he attended the rally to support Turkey and protest against "those who are trying to block the rise of the Turkish republic."

Copyright © 2015 Anadolu Agency