Why is the president of a country of 75 million so obsessed with pursuing a retired preacher who has been living in the U.S. since 1999? There are three main reasons for Erdogan’s obsession with Gulen: First, a desire to cover up massive and systemic corruption; second, the need for control over civic leaders and third, his need for a scapegoat to blame the country’s troubles and justify his authoritarian drive.
[Erdogan] has called Hizmet a state within a state, which to me is a strange characterization. To me, that’s like saying that the Catholics are a state within a state in America, or the Jews, a state within a state in America. Those kinds of statements are derogatory, they’re pejoratives. Catholics have a right to seek influence in America; Jews have a right to seek influence in America, that’s how we operate here.
Religiously, the Gülen Movement both reflects the long tradition of Turkish Sufi brotherhoods, and Gülen’s own emphasis on societal change through education, humanitarian activism, and interfaith dialogue. Gülen never sympathized with, or adopted, the AKP’s more conservative form of political Islam.
In his answers, Gül denied having relations with neither the Gülen movement nor Fethullah Gülen. But, history tells the opposite: Gül attended many activities of the Gülen movement; he even hosted, in his official residence, students of Turkish schools from many countries during a Turkish Language and Culture Olympiad.
Leading academics from various countries discussed the role of movements in the Muslim world and the experiences of the Gulen Movement at Arab League headquarters in Cairo. The conference, jointly held by Cairo University’s economic and political science faculty, Academic Studies and the Internet Foundation from Turkey, and Hira magazine.
The students, who have been groomed and educated by the Turkish teachers at the PakTurk schools, seem down in the dumps since word about their mentors’ departure got round. The teachers are scheduled to leave Pakistan in the coming week following the government’s deadline.
The petitioners submitted before the court that Pak-Turk schools had been imparting quality education to hundreds of Pakistani children. They said that the forced deportation of Turkish teachers and other staff members was illegal as they had been provided protection under the Constitution.
Once considered a beacon of hope for the Middle East, Turkey has been rapidly backsliding on issues of democracy, freedom of the press, and human rights. One would have thought this downfall hit bottom on July 15, when a bloody coup was attempted, leaving behind more than 250 dead.
Hizmet, the social movement inspired by the neo-Sufi thinker Fetullah Gülen, is currently being dismembered by the autocratic president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He accuses Gülen of ordering a coup attempt on 15th July 2016, saying it was was led by Hizmet members in the army.
Just ten years ago, Turkish Parliament Speaker Bulent Arinc recalled a dramatic scene. One diplomat dropped his teacup upon hearing that he was posted to Mongolia with 5,000 USD, special residence, and a car — a lavish job at that time. “How can I live there?” the diplomat reportedly asked, according to Arinc.
The power struggle between the Turkish state and the Fethullah Gulen-led Hizmet Movement continues to reverberate in Turkey. The number detained, arrested, jailed, and dismissed from their jobs since the July 15 coup attempt has reached well over 100,000, 40,000 of whom have been detained on suspicion of having links with Hizmet. One third of the highest-ranking armed forces officers have been dismissed. Almost every major institution—military, judiciary, media, education, business—has been affected.
In a 43-page report published on Tuesday, the human rights group said a “climate of fear” had prevailed since July’s failed coup against President Tayyip Recep Erdogan and the arrest of thousands under a state of emergency.