World Bulletin / News Desk
Turks gathered Thursday in New York City to protest Fetullah Gulen in the wake of a recent coup attempt in Turkey.
Holding up red-white Turkish flags and placards saying "Gulen is a Threat to the USA", "Gulen Uses America as a Political Shield and Safe Haven", and "Gulen is Turkey's No. 1 Wanted Terrorist", protesters distributed copies of a Turkish newspaper with a Gulen portfolio and engaged passers-by to draw attention to their cause.
The July 15 coup attempt the government has said was carried out by Gulen-led Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), resulted in the deaths of 246 people and injured more than 2,100, leading to a nationwide probe to eliminate FETO sleeper cells that infiltrated state institutions, including the judiciary and the army.
Necati Ozer, deputy head of the Turkish American Cultural Society (TACS), an NGO based in New Jersey that organized the protest along Fifth Avenue near a Gulen-affiliated institution, said the terrorist ringleader Gulen and his followers had broad influence on the U.S. but American citizens of Turkish origin were "adamant" in their opposition to the group.
As a U.S. citizen who has lived in the country for nearly two decades, Ozer said he demanded the American administration comply with the Turkish government's request for Gulen’s extradition to face charges related to the overthrow attempt.
"As America wages wars around the world under the name of fight against terror, we are asking the U.S. administration to extradite Gulen, the head of an organization that set up a terrorist group within our nation that targeted citizens, bombed our parliament, and shelled civilians from helicopters," Ozer said.
Nikola Poposki, a U.S. citizen of Macedonian origin who showed interest in the protest as he passed by, told Anadolu Agency that he supported the democratically elected government in Turkey.
Poposki said he was in favor of the Turkish government's effort to "get rid of traitors", describing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as an "excellent leader".
Like many, Poposki believes street protests were the real death blow to the coup attempt. "That was the reaction that needed to happen. That's democracy: people are ruling the country," he said.