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    Istanbul Police Chief speaks about radical religious groups: We catch them, they let them free

    Hürriyet Haber
    08.09.2005 - 11:00 | Son Güncelleme:

    İstanbul Police Chief Celalettin Cerrah has issued a sharp reply to Deputy PM Mehmet Ali Sahin's criticism of the reaction of the police force in Istanbul to radical religious group Hizb-ut Tahrir. Hizb-ut Tahrir used the courtyard of the Fatih Mosque last Friday to make a public call for the return of the Caliphate, warning that no one could stop their ascendency. Sahin criticized the Istanbul police for standing by and watching Hizb-ut Tahrir insult Ataturk, and for not arresting them. Cerrah responded to this criticism in an interview with Hurriyet, saying "These people have had similar protests in the past. At those times, we arrested and brought them in. They were set free the same day."

    They are always set free the next day

    Cerrah went on: "Ankara has looked a few times into the past of this group's leader, Yilmaz Celik. In May and June, this same group passed out declarations at the same mosque. We gathered up these declarations at that time, and sent the group leaders to the courts to be tried. But after giving testimony, they were set free."

    We will catch the leaders

    "We arrested seven people after this latest incident at the Fatih Mosque. Of these, five were set free, though two are still in detention. The leader, Yilmaz Celik, is someone who we will be able to catch in a little while. The same thing he read in the courtyard of the mosque was recently published in a magazine. If what he said was a crime, then that magazine has also committed a crime. That magazine has offices in Ankara. So I guess if they have these offices, the things that they are publishing haven't been found officially criminal."

    We don't want to antagonize the religious community

    "....The group made their statements in the courtyard of a mosque. If we had tried to intervene with the group in a mosque courtyard, our people could have been attacked by the religious community there. Our duty as police there is to settle down the atmosphere, not to exaggerate things. Usually these things die down on their own."

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