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Protesters rally against Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen in Monroe County

By Jaciel Cordoba, Anchor, JCordoba@wfmz.com
Published On: Jul 12 2013 07:00:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 15 2013 09:43:07 AM CDT

Turkish cleric protest

ROSS TWP., Pa. -

A quiet country road in Monroe County was the site of a protest Saturday against a controversial Turkish activist.

Fethullah Gulen has been living in a compound in Saylorsburg, for more than a decade.

Supporters say it's the best place for him to cope with his ailing health.

But protestors say he's a threat to national security who should go back to Turkey.

They came by the carload -- People from two countries drove along Mount Eaton Road in Ross Twp.

Some held Turkish flags, others protest signs.

They want to draw attention to a man who's lived along this road since 1999: Turkish Cleric Fethullah Gulen.

"We're making history here. This is the first time people have come here from all over the US and Canada just to show our concern," said protester Munire Nilson.

Gulen has lived here at the Golden Generation Worship and Retreat Center since 1999.

The place started as a summer camp for Turkish American families in the region. Now it's a place of spiritual refuge with programs to include area neighbors and churches.

Business partners who spoke on behalf of the center say Gulen is the most influential Turkish preacher for peace who promotes respect among different faiths.

"He received a personal audience with the late Pope John Paull II for his contribution to world peace," said Alp Aslandogan, president of The Alliance for Shared Values.

But protestors say Gulen has a more sinister goal -- through education.

"They open charter schools to indoctrinate the young children with Muslim extremist views to take over the whole world," said protester Ergin Aydin.

"His emphasis on education relies on the observation that - for our social ills, for long-term solutions -- we have to go through education," Aslandogan said.

The protestors had hoped to walk along Mount Eaton Road to spread their message...but the narrowness of the road wouldn't allow it.

Neighbors blocked their driveways with yellow caution tape in anticipation of hundreds of protestors.

After a brief rally at a farm on Rolling Hills Road, protestors drove in front of Gulen's house.

"We just want the US government to recognize who they're dealing with," said Nilson.

Neighbors of the retreat center say they've never had any problems with Gulen.