A diplomat told me that there was no way he would do what Tayyip Erdogan was asking him to do. It was against everything he held dear: chasing one’s own citizens without any credible evidence. Soon, many diplomats who refused to turn into Gulenist-hunters were not promoted, demoted or, worse, expelled from the ministry.
The agenda of the Turkish authorities [against Hizmet] goes far beyond the attempted coup, it is about the need to neutralise a movement that became a political threat when its followers within the judiciary and police started exposing corruption within the government’s ruling inner circle in December 2013.
Clearly, the Gülen movement is reeling from the campaign against it in Turkey. However, it has been a genuinely international movement for many years. As it struggles in Turkey, it may well flourish elsewhere among those who react against Erdoğan’s vitriolic campaign against Gülen.
Since the attempted coup of July 15, 2016 the Government of Turkey has engaged in illegal extraterritorial and extrajudicial actions been taking strict measures to silence dissidents in other countries from various ideologies recently. Participants of Gulen Movement -known also as Hizmet Movement- have been the main target of this global witch-hunt and abductions.
Erdogan and Gulen shared the goal of creating a “devout generation”. Yet despite their similar outlook on life and objectives, the Gulen movement never merged completely with the AKP. However, Gulen was never willing to subordinate himself to Erdogan, which is why the two men fell out in 2013 and the informal coalition with the Gulen movement collapsed.
Martin Luther, the Christian leader who is called “the Father of the Reformation,” described two kingdoms: the kingdom of the world and the kingdom of heaven. In the contrasts between Erdoğan and Gülen, we surely see examples of this distinction.
In a nutshell, Erdoğan’s divisive political rhetoric and his attempts to foster anti-Gülenist sentiments have perfectly served his own political interests within the country, but they have not served the country’s interests in the international arena, as they raise serious doubts about the credibility and rationality of the state as embodied in Erdoğan’s personality.
It is a shameful way to thank those [Turkish teachers] who have worked hard to teach our children and spread quality education. All these people have been living in Pakistan legally and have been contributing to our society through their educational services. We should treat them with the respect and honour that they deserve.
Gülen say, “The principles and form of government that form the basis of democracy are compatible with Islamic values. Consultation, justice, freedom of religion, protection of the rights of individuals and minorities, the people’s say in the election of those who would govern them…[are] principles espoused by both Islam and democracy.”
Let me just remind you of some examples of the anti-Semitic discourse and hate speech in the Turkish media from the State Department’s report. “In December Forestry Minister Veysel Eroğlu said that Fethullah Gülen will end up dying in the U.S. and be buried in a Jewish cemetery.”
Like many autocratic leaders, Erdogan was quick to blame members of opposition and sympathizers of Gulen Movement for the coup attempt. He particularly singled out the United States-based Turkish cleric, Fethullah Gulen as the mastermind of the coup, even when it is on record that the highly-respected cleric publicly condemned the coup when it was still on.
Despite Gülen’s repeated denials of any involvement and his open call for an investigation by an international commission, no concrete effort has been made to find out the true perpetrators of the heinous attempt. Instead, a state of emergency, which still continues today, was declared and is used to silence the opposition and all other critical voices.