In the aftermath of the failed coup — and the subsequent purge of thousands of workers accused of being dissidents — Canada has seen a spike in asylum claims from Turkey. The 55,000-strong Turkish-Canadian community has also become increasingly polarized, with distrust and accusations of witch hunts against anyone deemed to be a sympathizer and supporter of the Gulen Movement.
The Alliance for Shared Values “rejects the accusation” by Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus that Gulen is planning a move to Canada, it said in a statement on its website. The Alliance also reiterated its call for an end to attempts to stymie voices of democratic dissent, including journalists, academics, Kurds, liberals and participants in the Hizmet movement.
The Intercultural Dialogue Institute of uOttawa is organizing a panel – “Losing Touch with Humanity in Times of War.” At the panel, there also will be fundraising for a charity organization, the Peace and Progress International, which is actively working to improve conditions for Syrians in refugee camps.
Duncan Pike of the Toronto-based Canadian Journalists for Free Expression said the decline of press freedom in Turkey has been a growing concern as the Tayyip Erdogan regime continues to use the coup as a pretext to crack down on opposition critical of his government. “Reporters are stripped of press credentials. Publishing houses are closed down. Authors, journalists, teachers and academics are detained and investigated,” said Pike.
Calgary-based Imam Davud Hanci was arrested on allegations that he was the mastermind behind a failed coup attempt in July to remove Turkish President Recep Erdogan from power — allegations Hanci’s family called “ridiculous.”
Efforts in Canada by Turkish authorities and supporters of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have made life miserable for Gulen followers here, many say. They have been made unwelcome in mosques and restaurants frequented by Turkish-Canadians, and they have been cursed and protested against by fellow citizens.
The wife of a Calgary imam being held in prison near Istanbul, Turkey says she was pleased to hear that Prime Minister Trudeau recently spoke to Turkish officials about the matter. Rumeysa Hanci says her husband Davud had nothing to do with the attempt to overthrow the government. She says the family is still trying to get a lawyer for him.
For Gülen, a man of prayer, the Qur’an contains an ethic of citizenship. In the name of Islam, he advocates education, productivity, dialogue with the sciences and universal friendship. These are the values promoted by Hizmet, the Gülen Movement. While religiously based, Hizmet is an educational movement. It is obvious that the faith-based Hizmet has no affinity whatever with the secularism of the military clique that staged the recent revolt.
The photo that reportedly shows Hanci with Gulen is not actually Hanci. Hanci works as an imam for Corrections Canada and Alberta Government Correctional Services, according to Malik Muradov, executive director of the Intercultural Dialogue Institute of Calgary, who added that he also volunteers much of his time to the Turkish community.
We also noted the Turkish people’s respect for each other. Girls in miniskirts mingled easily with those in hijab, and so did people of various faiths. We met priests who appreciated the rights they enjoyed and saw synagogues that were well preserved and attended.
Ottawa’s Intercultural Dialogue Institute hosted its annual Interfaith Dialogue Supper and Colloquium on March 26, 2015 at the Turkish Cultural Centre in Kanata. In seeing over one hundred participants from so many different faith communities was inspirational in itself, among them the eight members of the hosting committee