Date posted: March 11, 2014
Speaking to the Samanyolu Haber news station on Tuesday, Şimşek said that Gülen’s morals and manners prevent him from answering the slanderous accusations directed at him by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and people close to his ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government. If Gülen replies, Şimşek claimed, it could be construed as an attack on all those who support the AK Party.
Erdoğan has portrayed the recent corruption scandal — which came to public attention on Dec. 17 of last year, implicating some of his close associates and family members — as a plot by the Gülen movement to weaken his government ahead of critical local polls scheduled for March 30. The Gülen movement, or Hizmet movement, is a civil society organization inspired by the scholar that seeks to improve education and interfaith dialogue around the world. Despite incessantly accusing the movement of being the culprit behind plots in Turkey’s political drama, Erdoğan has so far failed to present any persuasive evidence and has not appealed to a court.
“Every other day, we hear different slanderous words directed against Gülen. … A person would be stooping to the level of these people’s manners by responding to their accusations,” Şimşek said.
He later criticized clerics who kept quiet during a meeting of the Religious Affairs Directorate in which Erdoğan openly insulted Gülen. “There were many clerics who have known Gülen for many years. They were probably about 100 of them. Some of them were even his students. These people could easily have stood against the prime minister when he insulted Gülen. Why have did they keep quiet?” he added.
Şimşek later criticized Erdoğan for his efforts to close Turkish schools around the world run by the Hizmet movement, saying that the prime minister’s orders to Turkish ambassadors to tell their “tell the truth [about the movement]” to their host countries was an open threat against the schools which operate in 160 countries.“There is no logic in the prime minister complaining about our expatriate brothers serving at these schools abroad,” Şimşek said.
Gülen and his followers are at the center of Erdoğan’s accusations the Hizmet movement is behind the Dec. 17 anti-corruption operation. Erdoğan’s government reassigned thousands of police officers and purged more than 200 prosecutors in a major reshuffle in the wake of the scandal, a move which critics say enables the prime minister to impede any further corruption investigations.
Source: Todays Zaman , March 11, 2014