What is going on in Turkey? Who is Fethullah Gülen?


Date posted: August 3, 2016

Tom Gage

Recep Tayyip Erdogan is the president of Turkey, a NATO member nation that hosts our nuclear weapons. Evidence indicates he’s an Islamist.

Erdogan’s fundamentalist convictions led to persecution of two of whom I’ve written and published: the late Çelic Gülersoy, referred to as “Next to Ataturk” and Fethullah Gülen. The latter has been compared to Gandhi, Luther, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr., but Erdogan accuses him of launching the recent military coup. Gülen is a scholar and man of the cloth. His writings have attracted a following, an international movement, the name and mission of which UC Press entitled its recent publication “Hizmet Means Service” (ed. Dr. Martin Marty, 2015).

I wrote “Gülen’s Dialogue on Education” as a response to those asking “Where are the moderate Muslims?” A 2008 Foreign Policy Magazine survey of half a million ranked Gülen first among the hundred greatest living thinkers. In 2013, the NYC East/West Institute awarded him its Peace Award, one of only three presented in as many decades by this non-governmental group responsible for convincing President Reagan to meet with Mikhail Gorbachev. Hizmet is a civic, not a political, organization. It includes those inspired by Gülen to build schools (800 around the world), to teach, to respond as disaster relief agents, and to write to provide checks and balances in Turkey.

To be fair, in the early 2000s Erdogan’s government appeared promising. It negotiated with Kurdish separatists, got rid of visas to bordering countries, and led a thriving economy.

After much negotiation to counsel the dishonest Assad, Erdogan went on attack, and Assad increased sanctuary for the PPK, Marxist/Leninist Kurds, responsible for a 30-year war of secession, which has resulted in 30,000 deaths (incidentally, and more ironically, the most lethal foe of ISIS).

Since 2000, many in Hizmet, as well as others, demanded the government investigate those in the military responsible during its 1980 coup for the “disappeared thousands.” Subsequent trials jailed many, along with others who after 2007 plotted to launch a coup against Erdogan. I have many friends, like Gülersoy, associated with the Turkish military, the second largest in NATO. But within this impressive body, there are some, the “deep state,” who are corrupt and criminal.

With the neighboring Arab Spring, Erdogan needed the support of the same military that his government had previously jailed. Since 2013, he has been blaming Gülen and Hizmet, along with intellectuals and secularists who both encouraged the earlier investigations and criticized his emerging authoritarianism. By blaming this coup on Gülen, Erdogan placated a bitter military. In framing Hizmet, Erdogan cites a “parallel state,” twisting a phrase to echo an allusion meaningful to most knowledgeable of Turkish political history. For more than a half century, the secret “deep state” has referred to a fascist wing responsible for overthrowing four democratic governments. Would any in the military who have been under Hizmet’s scrutiny for the last decade attempt to overthrow the government in the interests of Hizmet? It doesn’t follow.

With a similar twist of guile, Erdogan claims to be the new Ataturk. The nation’s founder was secular; outlawed women wearing veils; imposed Turkish, instead of Arabic, for worship; and instituted le laïcité, a very different concept of state and church relations from what the U.S. practices. You must understand the difference: Gülen’s followers have sought freedom for religions in contrast to Turkey’s traditional heritage of Code De Napoleon, which insures freedom from religion. Washington doesn’t appoint bishops nor outlaw Latin. Imagine President Obama appointing Mormon, Catholic, and Baptist leaders. Since 2010, Erdogan has expunged Ataturk’s ban on women wearing veils, instituted religious classes in public schools and universities, arrested writers, journalists, and civic leaders, outlawed Facebook and Twitter, fired judges, emulated Putin’s executive presidency, and in a week in the wake of the coup arrested and fired 70,000. Erdogan has a vendetta without evidence for blaming Gülen but is using the coup as an excuse to punish any critical of his increasing authoritarianism.

Write Congress and the president to oppose Erdogan’s blackmailing the United States to extradite Gülen.

Dr. Tom Gage is instructor at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, Humboldt State University

Source: Times Standard Columns , July 28, 2016


Related News

Turkey’s Reichstag Fire

President Erdoğan, apparently a firm believer in the adage that a good scandal should never go to waste, authorized an immediate crackdown against so-called Gülenists. The numbers are dizzying. In less than a week after the coup attempt, the government detained 6,823 soldiers, 2,777 judges and prosecutors (including two judges on the Turkish Constitutional Court), and dozens of governors.

Gülen won’t change his stand, urges followers’ patience

Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen vowed to defend what he believes despite an organized attack by the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that employs hate speech, slander and outright lies in order to discredit him and members of the Hizmet movement.

Fethullah Gulen Statement Accepting the 2015 Gandhi King Ikeda Peace Award

Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen has been presented with a prestigious peace award in recognition of his “life-long dedication to promoting peace and human rights” at Atlanta’s Morehouse College, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s alma mater.

Chorepiscopus Yusuf Sag: Fethullah Gulen’s service is admirable

Chorepiscopus Yusuf Sag, Vicar General and leader of the Syriac Catholic Church in Turkey: “I wish every country had its own Fethullah Gulen. I watched the students performing at the recent Turkish Olympiads in admiration. They all sang in Turkish like angels. I have to ask: Is it better that they sing Turkish songs or hold guns in their hands?”

Bipartisan think-tank: The U.S. should not interfere politically in Gülen extradition case

If the executive branch were to interfere too forcefully in the Gülen extradition case now, it would only confirm Turkish leaders’ belief that the U.S. system operates on the same corrupt terms as Turkey’s. This would fundamentally affirm Erdoğan’s view that democracy as a value and a practice is a purely cynical discourse used by Western powers to harm Turkey.

Pro-gov’t daily proudly announces Gulenists put in ‘concentration camp’

Gulenists under custody as part of an investigation into Turkey’s July 15 coup attempt are kept in a “concentration camp” near Kayseri province, pro-gov’t Turkish news portal Kayseri Haber reported on Aug 13.

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

TV series shooting banned over controversial scene depicting the Prophet Muhammad

Former Norwegian PM: Our center takes same approach as Gülen

Turkish Gov’t Unveils 16 Ways to Identify Gulenists [as Terrorists]

Erdoğan’s Henchman: Oppression Targeting Gülen Movement To Be More Severe After Zarrab Case

Rule of law casualty of AKP-Gulen conflict

Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-based Preacher

Another dismissed gov’t employee abducted in black van in Turkey’s capital: wife

Copyright 2022 Hizmet News