GYV Presient Yesil: We knock on all doors

Date posted: March 24, 2014

Hazal Özvarış

Does Fethullah Gulen still think there might be a military coup in Turkey? Who refused to open the doors to the Gulen community? Are any preparations being made for the 100th anniversary of the events of 1915?

Mustafa Yesil is the president of the Journalists and Writers Foundation (GYV), which is known as the Gulen community’s institutional representative. Thus his remarks are followed closely. He has addressed a wide range of issues, among them the Gulen movement, eavesdropping, the arrest of Aziz Yildirim (chairman, Fenerbahce soccer team), the National Intelligence Institution’s (MIT’s) head Hakan Fidan‘s query about establishing dialogue with the PKK (the Kurdish terrorist organization) as instructed by the political authorities, and the arrest of several journalists.

We arranged an interview with Mustafa Yesil about such questions to learn the Gulen movement’s reaction and to obtain information about the GYV’s activities.

Yesil graduated from Marmara University’s School of Divinity (1985) and obtained his masters degree at Dokuz Eylul University. He worked at Zaman newspaper as a coordinator and, in 2003, became CEO of the World Media Group Company (Germany). He has been serving as GYV’s chairman for the past five years. He once remarked that “Fethullah Gulen was sorry to call for the resignation of Prime Minister Necmeddin Erbakan (in 2001) during the February 28th coup,” that he believes the Movement’ members may serve their mission within the framework of the freedom of speech, and that he thinks the demands of Alevi (Anatolian Shia) citizens (e.g., recognition of their temples as “places of worship”) must be heard.

What was the Gulen movement’s roadmap for dialogue activities during 2013? What do Gulen’s followers think about the writer Ahmet Şık, who was arrested and detained for a year after his anti-Gulen book was published? Does Gulen think there is still a possibility of a military coup?

Responding to these and other questions we posed to Yesil as T24,he said that they had contacted major industrial leaders like Mustafa Koc, Bulent Eczacibasi, and Ali Sabanci for hizmet (philanthropic community service) projects. He also asked Ahmet Şık to arrange an interview with them so that his questions would be answered. He disagreed with those who presume that there will be “no more military coups.” On the contrary, he pointed out that democratic improvements might be reversed if a new civil constitution is not formulated.

After this brief summary of our interview, let’s hear Yesil’s responses.

There is no need to take measures against eavesdropping in Pennsylvania

Hazal Özvarış (HÖ): Before we begin the interview, I’d like to ask whether you have searched for bugs at your office.

Mustafa Yesil (MY): We are an NGO [nongovernmental organization] that serves the public. I don’t think this place is worth being eavesdropped upon.

HÖ: So, you have no problem with being spied upon?

MY: In this place, people with various backgrounds meet and discuss issues and projects to improve society. This is neither a private place, like one’s home, nor a place where secret issues are discussed. Anyway, what is discussed here eventuallymakes its way into the media. However, sometimes people do not want to share their conversations even with their best friends. So yes, it is not nice to be spied upon.

HÖ: We know that Gulen was uncomfortable with being eavesdropped upon. Has his house ever been searched for bugs?

MY: I don’t know if any search has been made or not. But I don’t think it is necessary to place bugs in order to eavesdrop on someone in a country like the United States. In other words, no bug does not necessarily mean no eavesdropping. Of course being eavesdropped upon is not nice. Transparency does not mean the absence of privacy.

HÖ: So you say that no precautions have been taken in this regard?

MY: Fethullah Gulen has written and given speeches for many years. His trials in Turkey lasted almost ten years, after which no criminal elements were found. I don’t believe it is necessary to take such precautions.

We met with Mr. Eygi, who said, “Maybe I went too far in my lampoon.”

HÖ: Did you visit Mehmet Sevket Eygi, who claims that the Gulen movement resembles the Catholic organization known as Opus Dei?

MY: Yes we did, and we will visit him again soon. Mehmet Sevket Eygi is a very polite, nice gentleman. I don’t know why he likens this movement to Opus Dei. In terms of focusing on education, yes I may say there are similarities. But there are also many differences between two communities. Eygi once said, “Maybe I went too far in my lampoon.”

HÖ: You are criticized for holding iftars (Ramadan dinners) in big hotels [where prostitution also occurs]

MY: We cannot find better places to host 700-800 guests from various social segments. Besides, everybody knows that Hizmet organizes numerous iftars on streets, at schools, at iftar tents, and at dorms for needy people.

HÖ: Were ever you rejected when you wanted to engage in dialogue?

MY: Yes, for some conservatives and others did not open their doors to us. Such people have neither met with us nor read anything about us. They act based upon their prejudices. Those who have a democratic culture haven’t rejected us.

Hizmet (movement) does not have an agenda like targeting the state or the regime.

HÖ: If we ask whether you have any empathy with secularists, what would you say?

MY: I would say that I can understand them if I look at matters from their perspective. They might be right in having certain concerns, but their assessments are wrong.

HÖ: Can you explain this further?

MY: Their concerns may be due to a misrepresantation of Islam. They should not generalize some inappropriate behavior of a few Muslims to all Muslims. Their assessment [fear] that “they [Muslims] will interfere with our life as their numbers increase” is wrong.

HÖ: Your answer is important for skeptical people. Does the Gulen movement seek to bring about an Islamic regime in Turkey?

MY: The Hizmet movement has never been interested in running the state or the regime. In fact, such a purpose violates the very purpose of its existence. Hizmet prefers to spread the culture of coexistence with diverse cultures in various countries by supporting education and dialogue. Its members encourage this approach and launch projects to realize this mission.

HÖ: Let me give some examples: Alcohol is being prohibited at music festivals after [it was forbidden] at municipal facilities. To pave the way for Imam-Hatip schools (Islamic schools), the 4+4+4 educational system was established. Even some classic novels are considered inappropriate for school children because of the sexuality contained in them. How would you eliminate these concerns of the secularists?

MY: I would say, “Relax, for Islam is based on humaneness and ethics. It does not need force to enter into people’s hearts. Willingness and force are inversely proportional. In fact, force and pressure cause reaction. Of course governments will take precautions to protect citizens from harmful drugs or tobacco, but that does not mean they have the right to intervene in the people’s lifestyles or preferences.”

What [charactaristics] distinguish Hizmet from other religious communities?

HÖ: What are the basic differences between the Gulen community and other religious communities?

MY: Well, first of all I want to mention that Fethullah Gulen does not like this movement to be named after him. He has expressed his discomfort about this many times. In fact, we should say “Movement” instead of “Community.” We prefer to call it the “Hizmet movement.”

HÖ: Do you think that Ekrem Dumanli (chief editor, Zaman) has not gotten used to movement since he used cemaat (congregation, group) in one of his latest articles?

MY: In international nomenclature and academic circles, it is called the “Hizmet movement.” We also prefer this designation. But getting back to your question: Hizmet has no differences with other Islamic groups in terms of the basic essence of faith. However, it emphasizes education more than any other groups, which tend to focus more on religious education (e.g., Qur’an study courses). In fact, this Movement has extended educational services to the world. Maybe this is its most distinctive characteristic. In addition, it has focused on dialogue to spread the culture of living together.

Should unilateral transparency be expected while there still is an anti-Movement reflex?

HÖ: The Movement is criticized for not being transparent. But other religious groups are even more nontransparent and yet there is very little information about them. Why?

MY: Considering that until recently people who donated to religious services were closely monitored by the intelligence services and that members of religious groups were investigated when they applied for a state position, such nontransparency is understandable. Even today there is still a reflex reaction against religious services and activities. People face discrimination just for practicing their beliefs. Given this, how can you expect transparency? Transparency is closely related to trust. Thus if there is no trust [in the state], it is difficult to say, “Do not be worried.”

If the state does not protect religious freedom and nondiscrimination, nobody should expect transparency.

HÖ: You said, “Even today…” So you mean that government employees who are members of the Gulen movement are subjected to official scrutiny?

MY: When the prime minister was asked, “Is there a conflict between you and the Gulen movement?” he replied, “I just laugh at such questions” and added, “Sadly, I see that some of our friends are affected by these kind of rumors.” The elites do not have a conflict; however, there might be exclusions from lower-level government positions based on personal cliquish habits. The government does not have a policy of discrimination; we see this in prime minister’s statements.

HÖ: Can you give a solid example of conflict between Gulen’s followers and AK Party members at these lower-levels government positions?

MY: I personally do not know any cases. I have just said that “It may happen. It is possible” due to human nature. Let’s talk about the Hizmet projects.

HÖ: Of course these are not tabloid news items and people want answers. What will be in the Journalists and Writers Foundation’s (GYV) 2013 roadmap?

MY: We have prepared a variety of projects. In February we will organize the 28th Abant meeting: “Turkey from Different Perspectives.” All participants are foreign academicians working in Turkish universities and will discuss issues related to Turkey.  In June, the 29th Abant meeting will be held to examine one of three possible themes: “The Copenhagen Criteria on Its 20th Anniversary,” “Nationalism in Turkey: From the Past to the Future,” or “Intellectual Capacity in Turkey.”

Another project, “Peace-Truck” (BarışTIR*), involves traveling in five different regions of Turkey with a truck-museum to show what needs to be done and what kind of values we need to promote to establish peace. The peace-truck will visit communities, universities, and other public venues so that its members can organize seminars to explain the idea of living together. (*BarışTIR’s English translation is peace-truck; it also means to reconcile, make peace, reunite.)

Another project, “Living Together in Islamic Civilization and Contemporary Interpretations,” will enable the sharing of experiences about living together. Islam orders pluralism and diversity. As Qur’an 49:13 states: “O humanity, We created you from a male and a female and made you into tribes and nations so that you may get to know each other. And verily, most honored before God is the most virtuous/righteous of you.”That is, we are not meant to fight each other; rather, our differences exist so that we may love each other. This project seeks to re-interpret what it means to live together in the Islamic world.

We also have a theater project and a “Sema-Semah” night about [dialogue with] the Alevi community. In our “Forgive-and-Hug-Lectern” project, a Kurdish and an Alevi intellectual will search for answers to questions like “What did we do wrong and what should we have done?” We will use this opportunity to draw closer to each other.

Immigration policies should be fundamentally revised

HÖ: What if a female Hizmet member asked you “Why are not we visible?” during this project?

(Mustafa Yesil is smiling and pointing to the next project on their catalog: “The Effects of Hizmet Movement on Women in Turkey.”)

MY: I know that female Hizmet volunteers have established strong institutions and formed a federation. We have another project that focuses on women’s movements in Turkey and what Hizmet adds to or takes away from women.

Another project deals with immigrants. Turkey needs to fundamentally revise its immigration policies so that serious improvements can be made in such areas as where immigrants live, whether they are accepted or not, and so on.

Our budget for projects about TL 2-4 million annually

MY: Moreover, we have an important international project. As you may know, the GYV was granted consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) as of July 24 2012. It is the first body to achieve this status in Turkey. So now we can advise the UN on economic and social issues as well as offer projects or contribute to their agenda. Therefore we are trying to come up with an outstanding project. We will call upon M.A. and Ph.D. students from 150 countries and ask them: “How would you resolve one of the world’s fundamental problems?” in our “International Conflict Resolution” project.

HÖ: These projects require a significant amount of funding. What is your budget?

MY: Our projects cost about TL 2-4 million yearly. We talk to businesspeople for each project; they then sponsor our projects.

HÖ: Are these sponsors all TUSKON members, or do you have TUSIAD-member project sponsors as well?

MY: Businesspeople from all walks of life sponsor our projects.

HÖ: Have you contacted Mustafa Koc?

MY: We talk with him, as well as with Bülent Eczacıbaşı, Ali Sabancı, and others.

HÖ: Do you or did you?

MY: We did.

HÖ: What was their response?

MY: We are still talking with them. Our projects are for everyone, regardless of where they live in the world. Everybody in our country must hear about them.

HÖ: Well, there is a perception of tension between the AKP and the Gulen movement. Do businessmen hesitate to approach you?

MY: We are not aware of any hesitation on their part.

We are working on the centennial commemoration of 1915

HÖ: Doğan Akın mentioned that the Armenian diaspora was a sponsor of the Turkish festival in California for two years. How is your relationship with the Armenian diaspora?

MY: Of course, that person [a diaspora represenatative] also came here.

HÖ: As you know, two years remain until 2015. Do you have any preparations for this issue? What nomenclature does Hizmet use as regards what happened in 1915?

MY: We have been working on a solution-oriented project to minimize the headache Turkey may suffer when 2015 comes. Avoiding both the diaspora’s adamant and galling style, as well as its counterpart’s deny-it-all style, we are trying to figure out how to promote a solution and what kind of discourse is appropriate. The nomenclature will be decided during the process. Right now we are listening to both sides.

HÖ: Is calling the events “genocide” one of the options?

MY: I do not know at this moment what the outcome will be. We are putting all of our efforts into not only what happened historically, but also into understanding how these events are perceived and how we can transform this perception into a peace process.

The judiciary should have used all channels, including all public employees, to investigate Hrant Dink’s assassination

HÖ: Hrant Dink was the most constructive person about 1915 issue.  We will commemorate the sixth anniversary of his assassination on January 19. Despite the concrete warnings and official intelligence notices about this much-anticipated event, were you disturbed by the authorities’ ineffective investigation that led to Turkey’s conviction in the European Court of Human Rights?

MY: In my opinion, Hrant Dink’s murder was a fully premeditated event. To reveal this, the judiciary should have had the opportunity to investigate all [purposeful] negligence [by the police and the judiciary].

HÖ: Among these authorities Ramazan Akyürek (chief of police, Intelligence Department), whose name is associated with the Gulen movement, did not testify either as a witness or a defendant, even though he reported to the Istanbul Police Department that Yasin Hayal (now serving a life sentence) had come to Istanbul while the assassination was being planned. Do you think Akyürek should be included in this prosecution?

MY: If the judiciary were able to use all the channels, they could have collected more information on this tragedy.

HÖ: So according to you, was the Dink case investigated in a way that would prevent the carrying out of justice and exposing all of the responsible parties?

MY: Unfortunately, the investigation into this heinous crime was not thorough. I do not know the real reason for this. Some people opine that the main obstacle was bureaucratic solidarity. The people’s doubts should have been eliminated…

We have schools in all cities and large provinces of the Southeast

HÖ: How do you see the “İmralı steps” taken to settle the ongoing Kurdish issue?

MY: We see both the political and the security dimension as the government’s responsibilities. Naturally we share our views when asked to do so. As a, NGO, we have organized meetings with intellectuals and other people in Arbil, Istanbul, and Mardin to discuss how to solve the Kurdish issue, and have shared the feelings and thoughts presented with whomever has showed any interest in learning about them.

Other than this, we attach high importance to Hizmet’s contribution to raising the level of public education in the Southeast through educational activities. We know that one cannot stop the people’s tears and the blood without resolving three fundamental problems: poverty, ignorance, and disunity.

HÖ: How many schools do you have in the Southeast?

MY: There are schools in all of its cities and large provinces. However, I have not seen them all. In addition, there are university prep schools and free tutoring centers. After the region assumed ownership of the educational activities, there was a significant increase in the number of students admitted to universities. Education is the most important issue in the region.

The second issue is that income and job opportunities there have to increase in absolute terms. This will lead to the prevention of abuses by the PKK terrorist organization. Hizmet has worked to gather small businesses together under one roof and has helped them open up to the rest of the world by establishing associations for local businessmen.

We propose education not in the native language, but in the local language

HÖ: What is the attitude of Gulen movement toward education in the native language?

MY: In our schools abroad, we provide education in four languages: the local language, the regional language, English, and Turkish. We do not treat any of them as superior to others. When we offered our constitutional proposal to the Reconciliation Commission, we also proposed that the Turkish constitution allow Kurdish to be taught as a local language. Considering the inhabitants’ demand, the curriculum in these schools should be desingned accordingly. In Istanbul, for example, Kurdish could be an elective. I don’t think that the Ministry of Education is against this idea. Those who are hired to teach it should first be trained and the appropriate infrastructure should be prepared. But if you say that “We want to teach math or another subject in Kurdish,” then you would automatically disqualify these students in nation-wide examinations, which would cause a different type of discrimination to surface.

HÖ: Huseyin Gulerce, in his capacity as a reporter, spoke with Abdullah Ocalan’s lawyers. In regards to solving the Kurdish issue through dialogue, would you talk with Ocalan’s lawyers?

MY: First of all, those victims and oppressed people who want others to listen to how they were victimized and oppressed should not oppress others. A person who has been oppressed and yet has blood on his own hands cannot express himself even in the most righteous and ideal terms and cannot convince others. If we approach the issue from a civil society perspevtive, I think that it wouldn’t mean much to speak with Ocalan’s lawyers. The precautions and decisions regarding this are the concerns of the government.

The community will benefit most from knowing why the prosecutor called Fidan, the head of the National Intelligence Agency

HÖ: Again, I would like your personal opinion on this matter: Is it normal for a prosecutor to interrogate Hakan Fidan who took steps on the Kurdish issue according to the prime minister’s instructions.

MY: I think that the essence of the issue is this: “What is the reason for this interrogation?” Since we don’t know the answer, how can the created perception of “an operation against the government due to the Kurdish settlement process” be considered correct? The government is taking steps to solve this issue as a requirement of its responsibilities and consciousness. The results and implications of this process remain to be seen. Some intellectuals approve of it; others are concerned. I find it important that the government is determined to fight with those who are armed and, at the same time, solve this issue peacfully. We hope that the best result will emerge from this [process]. Everybody wants this bloodshed to stop.

HÖ: From what you said, I think one could conclude that “I wish that we knew why the prosecutor wanted to question Fidan.”

MY: Because the reason was not declared, the Community is blamed for what happened. In the end, if the prosecutor’s reasons were legitimate, the process would continue; if they were not, his actions would be legally questioned. I believe that the Community would derive the most benefit if the reasons [accusations] were declared, for once this occurred the implied [negative] comments about its involvement would be dismissed.

HÖ: Do you think that prosecutor Sadrettin Sarikaya was dismissed from this case because of his wrongdoing, or was that an unfair action?

MY: I don’t know. We cannot judge it without any evidence.

There might be people who are wronged in the KCK cases, but I don’t have proof

HÖ: Let’s talk about the KCK trials. Do you think some people were treated unjustly?

MY: No.

HÖ: In the interview with Siber Yerdeniz from T24, Prof. Büşra Ersanlı said, “Huseyin Gulerce called her and said that ‘You supported us on our hard times, but we didn’t support you on yours. Please accept my apologies.’” Do you have a different opinion on this issue?

MY: The ground KCK operations are based on is true; however, there might be innocent people among them who were treated unfairly. But I need some proof to make such a statement. [I have no such proof, and] thus I don’t know. Büşra Ersanlı has been involved in our activities for a long time. While she was in jail, our friends visited her.

HÖ: Who visited her?

MY: Mr. Erkam.

HÖ: Have you visited any other people in jail?

MY: No.

HÖ: Let me summarize: After cases like the MIT crisis and the arrest of Ahmet Şık, you made the following response to the claims of cronyism toward the Gulen movement in such core institutions as the judiciary and the police force, “We encourage Hizmet participants to seek employment in state institutions as well. Just like any other Turkish citizen, what could be more natural than these people working in state institutions? However, cronyism is a crime. And in a case like this, no matter who is involved, the transgressors should be held accountable.” However, those who respect your statements are confused by the following question, “So why are the Gulen movement’s media organizations defending the wrongdoings in key cases?”

MY: None of the [Gulen movement’s] media outlets have ever advocated cronyism. Their approach has been based on the subjects discussed at the present time.

The position of Zaman newspaper is clear

HÖ: We do not mean advocating cronyism in the media; but ignoring material mistakes in cases like KCK, Ergenekon, and Balyoz in the media shows a biased attitude. For example, to what extent does your cautious attitude match Zaman’s “persistent” coverage of these issues?

MY: All media has been divided into two parts, not just Zaman and Samanyolu TV. For instance, while some media interpreted KCK as an intermediate step toward politicizing the people in the Mountain (i.e., PKK camps and its leadership), others, including Zaman, said, “These are urban branches of the terrorist organization PKK.” This is also the prime minister’s view. Therefore, Zaman’s stand does not contradict mine. Its stance has been: “KCK is the urban branch of the Mountain. At this point, the operations against KCK are appropriate.” It did not support this stand for the sake of cronyism, for its policy is in accordance with Turkey’s democratization. Its sound stance is not soft on terror, violence, and tutelage. This is a preference.

HÖ: This preference has had consequences, such as “coup leaders will be released and will take revenge” during the reform process of the Specially Authorized Courts; details of Ilhan Selcuk’s voice records in the Ergenekon case were published; some of Zaman’s problematic news stories regarding the Balyoz case were compiled by Pinar Dogan and Dani Rodrik… Wouldn’t the newspaper’s clear political stance also raise questions about its journalistic integrity?

MY: There is a mentality in Turkey that says Ergenekon is a figment of the imagination. A very large number of people believe this. Zaman underlines one fact to such people: This is not being done in a biased way, for the reporters are presenting clear evidence. When I tell people in the Samanyolu TV news center that “Your news regarding Ergenekon case is considered unnecessarily over persistent,’ they respond that “We are just presenting the evidence that the prosecutors put forward. We do not add anything else.”

HÖ: But what happens if the other side responds like this: “While the presumption of innocence holds good, is it correct to report only the prosecutor’s indictment without mentioning the statements of suspects or their lawyers?

MY: Have you ever noticed that in [Hizmet-affiliated] newspapers and TV news programs that people pay close attention to what is “being claimed in the indictment”? They do this because while some people completely ignore the accusations mentioned therein, Zaman shares them with the people. As there is not a more legitimate and reasonable thing as sharing these, why aren’t those who say “all of these are fictitious” being questioned?

HÖ: Of course, this is important, and we ask this same question to those who claim that the Ergenekon trials are void. but we would like to ask you, in your capacity of president of The Journalists and Writers Foundation: How well does Zaman’s reporting, which focuses more on defending the Ergenekon prosecutors than simply presenting the facts, fit with the principles of journalism?

MY: If the news presented something that was not in the indictment or was exaggerated, then this focus could be questioned.

The absurd thing is to expect a single opinion from the Movement

HÖ: In an interview we did with Cengiz Candar, he said, “There are some indications that the Gulen Movement is strong in the security forces and the judiciary. However, the people whom I believe to be doing wrong do not resemble those whom I have known in the movement. Nevertheless, I see some people in its media channels supporting them.” He then stated that he has been reading “two Gulen movements.” What is your answer to this claim? How many Gulen movements are there?

MY: First of all, let me note that the Movement’s principles and values are well-known. There are people [participants] who support these values. So claiming that its agenda is different than these values has no foundation.

Hizmet is a global movement with a large number of participants, and thus should not be expected to act according to a single thought or opinion. Everybody can evaluate events differently according to his/her own free will. This reflects the Movement’s pluralism. If you place every member in a single format, then you would have to dismiss the Movement’s colorful nature that now spans 150 countries. In fact it would be absurd to expect all members to hold the same view, for it is quite normal for individuals to have different ideas on some political subjects.

HÖ: On which subjects, for example, do the Movement’s participants differ?

MY: That of the presidency. Could Hizmet have a single position in the presidency [of Turkey]?

Can Hizmet have a unified stand as regardsthe presidency?

HÖ: Do you think that the members’ different opinions on issues like the presidency have been aired in a way that everyone knows what they are?

MY: It depends on the event. Some people seek to express their opinions; others do not. In our board meetings as well as in the newspaper’s editorial board meetings, very different opinions are brought up. I think that those who expect a single view on everything do not understand the movement.

HÖ: Do you think that the pluralism in the Movement is being reflected to the public?

MY: When you hear about different thoughts, you say “Which Gulen movement?” The principles and values are the same, but members’ opinions on such continuously changing events like politics can differ both in the [Zaman] paper and in the [Samanyolu] television.

HÖ: If you were Zaman’s editor-in-chief rather than Ekrem Dumanlu, would we see a different Zaman?

MY: In any group characterized by the exchange of ideas, there may be different opinions. But it is certain that Zaman will never adopt an anti-democratic line.

HÖ: Let me start with two excerpts: (1) Recently, Serdar Turgut wrote in his column that he wasn’t in a position to face Soner Yalcin, “The possibility that the Movement, which I have been supporting so far, could possibly be in the center of some of the unjust events in Turkey has been deeply bothering me… There is no evidence yet, but in Turkey some people with different backgrounds and thoughts have similar doubts.” (2) Prof. Yasin Ceylan from the Middle East Technical University (METU), who has close ties with the Nur community, said, “The Movement’s struggle for power in the public realm is hurting Islam… Many pious people do not like its method and understanding of Islam.” Does hearing these comments from those who are close to the Movement, as opposed from those who are allergic to it, cause any self-criticism inside the Movement?

MY: It is normal that those who do not know Hizmet well enough, those who do not realize its services and achievements, and those who do not read its resources evaluate those events [in which it is involved or perceived to be involved] with the perceptions of outsiders. Their evidence is always, “Well, this is the perception.” How well, I ask you, does any perception express the truth?

Turkey has still not completed its normalcy process

HÖ: In this context, would you say that “We need to express ourselves better”?

MY: Of course. The website is all about this. Furthermore, we plan on adding voice recordings as well as visuals. We will publish every question submitted to us in some form. However, we shouldn’t forget that the country still has newspapers and journalists who supply misinformation designed to manipulate society. Unfortunately, Turkey has still not completed its normalcy process.

HÖ: Would you say that Serdar Turgut and Cengiz Çandar, both of whom have made elaborate responses to your statements, are among those who seek to manipulate others?

MY: I can’t say anything like that. They are just putting forth an opinion, similar to those that were stated in the past. In my opinion, however, this is not the right type of approach. I cannot imagine that Hizmet would willingly and consciously cause any injustice to anyone. Hizmet sticks to legitimate roads and avoids secretive conspiracies. Nevertheless, as I always remind people, individuals can make mistakes. And since defending mistakes is impossible, holding Hizmet responsible for personal mistakes is out of the question.

Let’s talk with Ahmet Şık so he can ask his questions

HÖ: On Hilmi Hacaloğlu’s program, Ahmet Şık stated that the Community had tried to contact him, but he never really met with them. He added that he was forwarded a message by a GYV staff, saying that “Fethullah Gulen was upset with his arrest.” Can we conclude from this that Gulen thinks that Şık has been oppressed?

MY: Cemal Uşak (vice president, GYV) said that he had seen Ahmet Şık at a conference. I am aware of their conversation. We all know that Gulen sides with the victim and the oppressed. It is impossible for someone who had dedicated his life to justice and the wellbeing of others not to be concerned about an innocent person who is being victimized. He stated on Twitter: “Although he [Şık] attributes what he has gone through to us, I will be upset if he is locked up because of his writings.” One has to ask how ethical it is to blame Gulen and his friends for everything when the judiciary has not even given its final decision. I also wonder whether Şık has investigated the correctness of his accusations, although he complains that he is being tried based upon possibilities. We have researchers here who study the Movement. Why hasn’t he questioned them? Why has he not checked his information?

HÖ: Let me note that Ahmet Şık writes in his book that he did not target the entire Movement; rather, he pointed to the claims that there are “rings” within it. He also shared his information with Movement members in the police force. Would you be willing to be interviewed by him for publication?

MY: Of course. He should feel free to ask his questions. After all, we seek to provide information to those who have questions about the Movement.

There are rings that attribute everything [negative] to the Movement

HÖ: Well, has Gulen been upset with any other arrests?

MY: As you know, he signed a book for Cuppeli Ahmet Hoca (a religious leader). When Aziz Yildirim (president, Fenerbahce sports team) was behind bars, the question “I wonder if people related to the movement put me in here?” bothered him in the jail. How can someone like Cuppeli or someone like Aziz Yildirim be convinced of this? Yes, I think there are different rings, although they do not have any relationship with the Movement. Many rings try to blame the Community for many things, but they are outside of it and very hostile to it.

HÖ: In your opinion, who are these groups? Ergenekon?

MY: They can be Ergenekon just as they can be others. The name and brand doesn’t matter.

HÖ: Are you investigating who they are?

MY: What are we going to investigate? The judiciary and the security forces will do it. We are just watching the reflections in society.

HÖ: While the Movement is going through a period of official scrutiny, this passive attitude is not going to make sense to people.

MY: Why not? We know that some stuff starts with hearsay. This country has been hit and manipulated by psychological campaigns and prepared for military coups. Were the parites in power at those times able to find them, to fight against them? What can we do? The most we can do is to further enlighten others, lay out the facts, and form relationships based on true knowledge. What else should we do?

Does Fethullah Gulen still think there can still be a military coup in Turkey?

HÖ: After Erdogan called upon him to “come back to Turkey,” Fethullah Gulen responded in a way that means “Turkey isn’t a safe place.” After that, Murat Belge and Tarhan Erdem said that there can still be a military coup in other contexts. Does Gulen still think there can be a coup here?

MY: As regards his return to Turkey, Mr. Gulen says, “I have never been concerned about myself. However, I will not accept a case (even if there is a one percent chance) in which the administration or the service (Hizmet) can be negatively affected by my return. Even if these concerns go away, I can only decide to return after consulting my friends.” I think his sensitivity of any potential inconvenience that his return may cause is an important point.

HÖ: Do you agree with the statement that the people’s motivation to draw up a new constitution has diminished because many people think that a military coup can’t happen again?

MY: It is clear that serious steps have been taken to clamp down and investigation of military coups. Perhaps these efforts made us all think, “There cannot be a coup. Lessons have been taken.” However, we should remember that our current constitution, which we have not changed, was drawn up by previous military regimes. It is very dangerous to slacken this ongoing campaign.

The progress that has been made over the last decade must be guaranteed by [a new] constitution. We saw many examples of losing time because of [the people’s belief in] the improvements thanks to governments’ success. It is important that history should not repeat itself, and this depends on a new constitution.

HÖ: The website (questions-to-hizmet) states that Gulen has renewed his last will and testament. In it, does he suggest to the Community what it should do after his passing?

MY: No. Gulen says that “The Movement cannot be built upon individuals, for it would adhere to its principles. I have used the credit that my nation has given me on the projects for my nation.” Gulen’s comments and sayings regarding our century, as well as our values and principles, are extremely valuable for us. And all of these have been recorded. He sometimes says, “I have said almost everything I could, have even repeated myself many times.” So, all of the thoughts and sentiments that he has put forward are in his books. Beside, Hizmet has reached a certain level not only as a thought process, but also in its actions. I would say that this movement will continue to serve humanity unless individuals deteriorate.

HÖ: You are not ignoring that possibility, correct?

MY: Of course we’re not. If people deteriorate, the Movement’s goals and understandings might be lost. Society’s trust in it would disappear, and eventually people would withdraw their support. From its first day, the Movement has been based upon the altruism of its volunteers. Deterioration happens when corruption replaces altruism, selfishness replaces selflessness, and worldly desires replace striving in God’s cause.

Source: T24 , July 1, 2013

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