Turkey: 2,500 religious staff removed in post-coup crackdown

A flag with the picture of Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan is seen during a rally to protest against last month's failed military coup attempt.Reuters

More than 2,500 officials have been suspended from Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate in another crackdown following the failed military coup last month.

The move, announced on Tuesday, was part of a wider purge of those believed to support US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom the Turkish government has blamed for the uprising.

More than 50,000 people have been rounded up, sacked, or arrested in the wake of the July 15 attempted coup, and this latest figure brings the total dismissed from the religious affairs agency to 3,672.

The Religious Affairs Directorate, known as the Diyanet, has a duty in Turkey "to execute the works concerning the beliefs, worship, and ethics of Islam, enlighten the public about their religion, and administer the sacred worshiping places".

According to AFP, it looks after around 80,000 mosques and 100,000 of its staff are imams.

Diyanet said its staff who were dismissed included employees at every level of the organisation, though no further details were given.

Gulen has denied the accusations levelled against him, but Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan is pressing to have him extradited from the US.

Gulen's school of Islam seeks to amalgamate Muslim teaching with liberal democracy, while Erdogan's ruling AK Party favours a more conservative Islam and has loyal support among conservative Muslims.

Turkey's foreign minister accused the EU on Wednesday of making "serious mistakes" in its response to the failed coup.

His comments reflect the deep frustration in Turkey over the perception that Europe and the US have given lukewarm support to Ankara in the wake of the incident.

Unfortunately the EU is making some serious mistakes. They have failed the test following the coup attempt," Mevlut Cavusoglu said in an interview with the state-run Anadolu agency.

Turkey has been incensed by what it sees as Western concern over its post-coup crackdown, but indifference to the bloody putsch itself, where more than 240 people were killed, many of them civilians.

Additional reporting by Reuters.