Gulen factor in Turkey’s turmoil

Turkish and Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen
Turkish and Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen


Date posted: April 2, 2014

Mian Wakeel Uddin


For the last few weeks, Turkey has been rocked by the country’s biggest-ever bribery investigation which has led to the detention of some influential people within the ruling AKP party. In the aftermath, top ranking officials of police and judiciary have also been sacked in Ankara and Istanbul by the political government for “abuse of office”. The Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan termed the graft probe as a “dirty operation” with international links to undermine Turkey’s growing economy and to topple his popular government.


Besides blaming other internal and external elements, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has erroneously linked this episode of drama to a well-organized social cum Islamic Movement led by world-wide famous religious scholar, thinker and educationist M. Fethullah Gulen, who is most popularly known as ‘Hoja Effendi’ by his followers out of extreme affection. Prime Minister Erdogan appears to be in an open power struggle with former political backer Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, USA and his supporters, according to government reliable sources are thought to be in key positions within the police force and the judiciary. Top government officials accused Gulen recently of trying to establish a “parallel state” within the Turkish government.


The Hizmet Movement, the name preferred by Gulen’s followers, has in the past thrown its support behind the Erdogan-led AKP and has played a decisive role in protecting his political career. A decade ago, Tayyip Erdogan changed Turkish politics by putting together an unofficial alliance of business leaders, the working class and the religious factions which included members of Gulen supporters. This wide base of support won Mr. Erdogan three consecutive general elections. It allowed him to survive two weeks of popular, but unorganized protest in June 2013. The Movement helped him to rein in the military that toppled four popular governments in forty years. But in recent weeks, Tayyip Erdogan has alienated one crucial element of his alliance – the Gulen Movement. This tussle may pose a threat to Tayyip Erdogan undeclared ambition to run for president in 2014 and could be detrimental to the image of Turkey in the comity of nations and the consequent ramifications may be broad.


The bellicose and offensive language used by Tayyip Erdogan in his recent local election campaign against Gulen and his Movement is not only against the norms of international law and the law of the land but also against the ethics of politics. The reverent objectives of Gulen’s educational and reformative Movement are self-explanatory and explicitly contradict the accusations leveled against Gulen’s international stature and the Movement.


Since I have been in profound intimacy with the Movement and had some working encounters with its followers in Turkey, Africa and Pakistan, I would like to share my perceptions regarding the Movement’s social and educational aspects and the sphere of influence it has create at the global level.


Gulen Movement is a unique case of global social innovation based on the sanctity of education and inter-faith dialogue in a number of respects. The most vital sector of civil society projects Gulen Movement undertakes is in education. Followers of Gulen have opened more than 1000 schools around the globe stretching from Asia to Africa, from the United States of America to Europe and these institutions continue to attract a lot of media attention in local regions and countries in terms of their success and performance in international science and Turkish Olympiads. The followers of the Movement working within the framework of Gulen’s understanding are seen exemplars wherever they are by their sound characters, the level of morality in their behavior and the human values they carry, in addition to their professional proficiency.


Owing to the principles of diversity, love and dialogue, Gulen enjoys voluntary participation of people from different backgrounds, ideologies, nations, classes, races and faiths throughout the world. Gulen network proposes a model of spiritual partnership and networking based on shared passion and idealism, a global agenda for interfaith and intercultural love, cooperation and multidimensional view of universal values. The ultimate aim of this universal pattern of education and inter-faith and inter-cultural dialogue will lead to universal peace, as envisaged by Gulen.
Mr. Gulen has become a role model not only the Turks but also for millions of people living in different parts of the world. His teachings have inspired hundreds and thousands of people to work for global education, universal peace, and the spread of tolerance. These people do not have or share a religious mission and rather they are professionals and volunteers working for a noble cause of educating the youth. However, they experience spirituality deeply, intensively and centrally in their lives and work. They share common humanistic values, ideals and passion. It draws much of its support from young urban men, with special appeal to teachers, academics, and other professionals. It has grown in part by sponsoring student dormitories, summer camps, colleges, universities, language schools, cultural facilities, interfaith dialog organizations and NGOs. What makes Gulen unique is that he has successfully persuaded and mobilized many young people around the world to establish educational and civil institutions and put into practice his discourse on global values and realize his ideal of raising a “golden generation” and achieving universal peace.
Gulen’s understanding of duty, to serve humanity especially in the field of education and inter-faith dialogue, permits no expectation of material or political gain. His philosophy of education is not utilitarian, nor a social and political activity which can be divorced from the rest of his philosophy or faith, but a firmly integrated and well-developed component of his worldview. Gulen says that the means must be as valid as the end, and that apparent or material success is not the only measure. The purpose of the Gulen Movement is to ensure respect for objective and universal human values, to never have ulterior motives to seek material interests nor to impose any ideology or to seize power through politics in any country.
Looking at the ground realities and the sublime mission of Gulen’s Movement, it is very hard to believe, and to me, it seems quite tenuous and unconvincing that the Movement can be involved in any plot, directly or indirectly, which might pose a threat to or topple Tayyip Erdogan popular government.
For over forty years, Gulen has urged his audiences all over the world to achieve the right balance of social justice between the individual and community; to develop and advance in every individual and the whole nation feelings of love, respect, altruism, striving for the sake of others, sacrificing their own material and non-material benefits and aspirations for the sake of others. There has never been any evidence of an attempt by the Gulen Movement to gain any kind of political power or material objectives in any part of the world in general and in Turkey in particular.

Source: Frontier Post , April 2, 2014


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