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.
After the attempted coup, college professors have been hit especially hard, thanks to Gülen’s popularity inside Turkish higher education. Turks were encouraged to report Gülen’s followers to the government. Universities have been ordered to establish 7-8 member committees looking into anti-government activities of the faculty and administration.
Erdogan became quite successful in his two very basic goals right after the coup. First and foremost, for putting all the blame squarely on the Hizmet movement, led by Gulen, and then carrying on a huge cover-up to hide other segments of the coup plotters. The problem is, while he has been quite successful in Turkey – he was not able to convince many in Europe and in the US.
A year later, Western intelligence officials and top Turkey analysts aren’t nearly so sure of Gulen’s complicity. Earlier this year, German spy chief Bruno Kahl revealed that Ankara has failed to convince the BND foreign intelligence agency that Gulen was behind the ill-planned and executed coup plot. “Turkey has tried to convince us of that at every level, but so far it has not succeeded,” Kahl told the German weekly Der Spiegel in March.
From its founding amid the ashes of Al Qaeda in Iraq, ISIS has dealt in deception as well as death. Despite its name, ISIS represents a perversion of Islam. The group’s dress, flags and slogans cannot hide their abhorrent betrayal of the spirit of this major world faith. Denying this barbaric group a geographical base that emboldens them to claim statehood is a worthwhile goal that all Muslims should support.
It’s an old story with dictators. If unopposed, they become ever more brazen in their aggression. Case in point: Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. On May 16, during a state visit to Washington, Erdoğan’s bodyguards beat up peaceful protesters, many of them American citizens, in front of the Turkish embassy. At least 11 protesters were injured.