Turkey’s greatest service to the Muslim world

Abdülhamit Bilici
Abdülhamit Bilici


Date posted: October 11, 2014

Turkey was a shining star during the years that it implemented democratic reforms internally and improved relations with other countries, particularly its neighbors. Both the West and the Muslim world were watching Turkey’s progress intently and its economic success and democratic transformation would be referred to as exemplary.

This appraisal, which was never imagined before, was the result of sympathy for Turkey’s policies. People with Islamic identities were at the helm of Turkey, but they were not pursuing Islamist goals. They were attaching importance not only to the relations with the Muslim world, but also to the country’s bid to become a full member of the European Union. When they looked at Turkey, foreigners saw not the Taliban’s Afghanistan or a country like Iran but a democratic, developed country which was self-confident and at peace with its identity and seeking to become a respected member of the modern world.

Not only the Arab media, but also Western media outlets were teeming with articles praising Turkey’s democratic transformation, dubbing it the “silent revolution.”

Turkey’s success was all the more significant in that it had come in the wake of the great shock from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks which were claimed to be conducted in the name of Islam. This success was not the work only of politicians, but Turkish schools — which are run by Turkish entrepreneurs inspired by the ideas of well-respected Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen — charitable organizations, Turkish soap operas and Turkish civil society had played their part. Major capitals were voicing the hope that Turkey’s modern, constructive and democratic interpretation of Islam would set an example for the entire Muslim world.

In my opinion, the biggest contribution Turkey made to the Muslim world which was suffering from dictatorship regimes, poverty and ignorance, and to the world which was in the grip of Islamophobia largely because of certain Islamic actors which obscured the luminous face of Islam — such as the Taliban, al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) — was to set a good example in economics, rule of law, democracy, constructive diplomacy, human rights and anti-corruption, etc. This policy proved rewarding for the country as it boosted the country’s image both in the Muslim world and the West.

It would be better for everyone if we maintained this policy, but we were blinded by a premature arrogance. Then, we jettisoned the goal of using the EU criteria as a reference and benchmark, although those criteria were the main driving force for democratic transformation. We thought we had nothing to learn from them. We started to tell Europeans what they should do and even made fun of the economic crisis they were suffering from. We saw the Court of Accounts, which had been strengthened in the fight against corruption, as a nuisance and a stumbling block. Then the judiciary, which had been reformed in 2010, appeared to be a burden. We created pro-government media outlets and started to control others using taxes as punishment or assigning pro-government figures to manage them. The society was divided into “us and them.” Anyone who dared criticize these developments were labeled traitors, and dissident businessmen and bureaucrats were profiled.

In our domestic policies, we started to see ourselves as a regional and even global power that could regulate the region. Instead of humbly establishing good relations with all countries, we became a country that took sides or meddled in the domestic affairs of those countries, accompanied with overly assertive statements. For instance, we said that the Syrian crisis is one of our domestic issues. We wouldn’t allow the massacres of Hama and Homs in the 1980s to be repeated. The Baathist regime would fall in a couple of weeks. We would solve Iran’s nuclear issue. We would go to Gaza and put the Middle East into shape, acting as a strategic partner with Egypt.

But we ended up as follows: Bashar al-Assad is still in power. A total of 160,000 people died in Syria. Hama and Homs were demolished. Small terror states were established right next door. We have 2 million refugees. Our prestige in Egypt is zero. We have left Libya completely…

For an objective description of how we are performing at home, you may have a look at the latest EU Progress Report, which is concerned with press freedoms, fight against corruption, judicial independence, etc. Those who don’t trust Europeans may lend an ear to the following message by Constitutional Court President Haşim Kılıç, who prevented the closure of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) back in 2008: “The ever-increasing hatred and hate speech in Turkey worries me. The resulting climate of fear affects journalists as well. We must fight for fundamental rights and freedoms. Journalists should resist. They should not give up.”

If we want to help ourselves and the Muslim world, it is obvious what we should do. We Muslims don’t need weapons or heroism, but rather a success story that combines democracy, justice, morality and welfare.

Source: Today's Zaman , October 10, 2014


Related News

Turkey Coup Attempt Leaves America With Stark Choice

In the aftermath of Turkey’s attempted, and failed, coup, Washington is primarily concerned about the future of the U.S.-Turkish alliance and its central objective these days: the fight against Islamic State (ISIS). In particular, U.S. policymakers are concerned about the fate of U.S. access to the Turkish airbase at Incirlik, from which assets used in […]

In Conversation with Fethullah Gülen (Interview in Asharq Al-Awsat-I)

While it is a movement inspired by faith, this [Hizmet movement] community of volunteers develops and delivers reasonable and universally acceptable projects which are in full compliance with humanitarian values and which aim to promote individual freedoms, human rights and peaceful coexistence for all people regardless of their faith.

Kimse Yok Mu reaches out to Syrians in joint project with UNHCR

Speaking to Sunday’s Zaman, Kimse Yok Mu Secretary-General Savaş Metin said they have been able to reach out to 17,000 people from 2,900 families with this project, which will conclude by the end of February.

Lawyer: Female journalist traumatized by abuse, torture at Turkish police station

Hanım Büşra Erdal was subjected to a strip search at the police station and humiliated by police officers when she was taken from her prison cell as she was preparing to leave the prison. A strip search is allowed only if circumstances so warrant. “She is a journalist and was taken from the prison. She was already going through routine checks and searches in prison,” her lawyer said.

A destructive option for Turkey takes shape

It is a “parallel state,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan claims, and the movement gets help from its die-hard loyal media, as well as some leftist-secular circles and even from abroad. Such diversion on this issue helps him buy time, water down the content of accusations and divert attention.

Saudi Scholar al-Qarni: Gulen serves with wisdom

One of the most celebrated scholars of Saudi Arabia and the Arab world at large, Sheikh Aaidh al-Qarni delivered sermons on “Tabi’in” (a referral to the people who lived in an age right after the Prophet Muhammad’s companions’ generation) at several salatin mosques (mosques built by Ottoman sultans) in Istanbul, on June 1 thru 9. […]

Latest News

Fethullah Gülen’s Condolence Message for South African Human Rights Defender Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Hizmet Movement Declares Core Values with Unified Voice

Ankara systematically tortures supporters of Gülen movement, Kurds, Turkey Tribunal rapporteurs say

Erdogan possessed by Pharaoh, Herod, Hitler spirits?

Devious Use of International Organizations to Persecute Dissidents Abroad: The Erdogan Case

A “Controlled Coup”: Erdogan’s Contribution to the Autocrats’ Playbook

Why is Turkey’s Erdogan persecuting the Gulen movement?

Purge-victim man sent back to prison over Gulen links despite stage 4 cancer diagnosis

University refuses admission to woman jailed over Gülen links

In Case You Missed It

Austria arrests two after arson attack on Turkish cultural center

A road less traveled

Humanity prepares its own end, says Assyrian Catholic Church leader Sag

Newly-released journo offers insider view at victims of Turkey Purge

Turkey: Detained higher education professionals at risk of torture

Pictures of friendship drawn on hearts: Philippines

Hizmet keeps school and cultural center in São Paulo

Copyright 2022 Hizmet News