Turks Should Question The Official Narrative That Gulen Was Behind The Coup

Mahir Zeynalov
Mahir Zeynalov


Date posted: August 26, 2016

Mahir Zeynalov

One of the most frequent questions I am asked about Turkey is why so many people in that country believe in conspiracy theories? Even intellectuals buy and sell theories that are mostly groundless — most of the time backed up by no single shred of evidence — let alone millions with little education.

Unlike in Western countries, Turkish people trust and value opinions expressed by public figures on TVs. I am amazed how journalists, commentators and public officials make statements that are entirely their opinion, but present them as facts. Viewers buy these sometimes crazy theories. On Saturday, for example, Dursun Cicek, a lawmaker with Turkey’s secular opposition party CHP, claimed that Kurdish rebel group PKK and ISIS are commanded by Gulenists and that “the US is on top of all of them.” As much as this sounds out of this world, there are many in Turkey who believe in this nonsense.

Borrowing a page from Putin’s playbook, Erdogan has adopted a very effective media strategy in shaping public opinion: Repeat it many, many times. From social media to newspaper columns and TV shows, a media empire Erdogan built starts to parrot a single line and that becomes official truth.

We see a similar trend in the month following the coup attempt on July 15. Almost every single news outlet published claims that Gulenists are behind the coup attempt, without questioning. And, frankly, they can’t. Those who would have questioned were shut down in one night last month. 45 newspapers, 16 TV channels, 29 publishing houses, 23 radio stations and 15 magazines were sealed by a single decree. Imagine what kind of signal this sends to other media outlets if they don’t toe the official line.

There is almost unanimity in Turkey that Gulen’s followers in the military attempted to topple the Erdogan regime. From Kurds to secular opposition, every segment of the society reiterates the same thing: It is a Gulenist job.

I am very much interested in finding out who initiated and supervised the coup attempt as much as anyone else. Listening to Erdogan’s very first statement, I can’t help but wonder why the president did not directly blame Gulenists over the coup attempt. He said “this is an [uprising] promoted by the parallel structure.” Wait a second. “Promoted?” What happened to “Gulenists did it”? Was that a Freudian slip? Does he really believe that it was an uprising by a faction within the military and that Gulenists pushed it or at least turned a blind eye?

Many of the generals and high-level army officers suspected of being Gulenists were rounded up from their houses, charged with masterminding the coup attempt. You probably have the same question I have: Why would they stay at home when their fellow officers allegedly engineered a coup? More questions than answers at this point.

One hour into the coup, Erdogan suggested that Gulenists are part of this plot. One month has passed and Ankara is struggling to present an evidence. A senior US official told Washington Post that Turkey is yet to send evidence about Gulen’s involvement in the coup attempt. “At this point, Turkish authorities have not put forward a formal extradition request based on evidence that he was involved in the coup,” the official told the paper.

I am not trying to absolve one side or the other. The coup attempt was a heinous assault on Turkey’s civilian politics and the plotters must be punished in a fashion that deters similar actions in the future. What I am trying to understand is why everyone agrees that Gulenists did it when there is little evidence and that is even questionable.

Oh, Putin to the rescue again. A typical Putinesque strategy is to designate a single narrative for everyone to repeat and punish those who say otherwise. Now back to Turkey. It is not enough to reject the coup attempt in Turkey. You have to say it was a Gulen-driven coup. Otherwise you will lose either your job or your freedom. Can anyone imagine, for example, a TV station questions if Gulenists are the ones who started the coup attempt? Or a politician somehow insinuating that unhappy generals in the military might have taken the lead? Or a public intellectual claiming that there is no evidence to suggest that Gulenists did it? There is almost no way that you can suggest an alternative narrative to the coup and get away with it.

Take a look at my recent dialogue with an AKP supporter:
– (Me) How do you know that Gulen was behind the coup attempt?
– Everyone is saying it.
– Ok, show me the evidence and I will say the same.
– Not everyone would lie.
– ?!

It is my understanding that this line of defense has already become an official narrative of the government. When confronted by Western officials, Turkish government ministers keep repeating this: 80 million believe it was a Gulenist job. You may not want to lose the Turkish people.

I don’t really know if everyone speaks what they believe in. But you would expect everyone to say the same thing anyway when the alternative means dismissal from your job or losing your freedom. Public employees are asked to fill out a certain form that proves that they are not sympathizers of Gulen. If you somehow purchased Zaman newspaper, the Gulen movement’s flagship publication, at one point in your life, you have to keep posting anti-Gulenist statements on Facebook to get away from being arrested. Anyone brave enough to question the official narrative?

Source: Huffington Post , August 25, 2016


Related News

Is the Gulen Movement an alternative to the state?

Some say, “You [Gülen Movement] are acting as the honorary ambassadors, counselors, and attachés, are you the alternative to the state? My answer is as follows: If some people are taking care of the business in the places where you cannot reach, you have to only admire and compliment them.

Informant on Gülen movement members says he fabricated testimony to avoid jail time

İbrahim Demirtaş, a major in the Turkish military who testified as an informant in investigations into sympathizers of the faith-based Gülen movement, has admitted that his statements were false and made in order to avoid prosecution and jail time.

NY Times Editorial Board: Mr. Erdogan’s Reckless Revenge

At such a time, one would hope for a leader willing and eager to unify his people under the rule of law, to reaffirm democratic values and to address the grievances that motivated the plotters in the first place. So far, Mr. Erdogan seems determined to fail this test of leadership.

Turkey’s counter-terrorism campaign [against Hizmet] discredited

The agenda of the Turkish authorities [against Hizmet] goes far beyond the attempted coup, it is about the need to neutralise a movement that became a political threat when its followers within the judiciary and police started exposing corruption within the government’s ruling inner circle in December 2013.

Gulen movement sympathizers committed to interfaith dialogue, charity and nonviolence

George Mason University professor, Jack Goldstone, shares his view of Fethullah Gulen and Gulen Movement. Goldstone says he is particularly glad that Gulen has such a remarkable influence over his sympathizers who are committed to the promotion of interfaith dialogue, charity and nonviolence. Speaking of Gulen’s anti-violence stance, Goldstone recalls Gulen’s touching statement, as he […]

Autistic children left unattended as teacher parents under arrest over alleged coup links

Uz family has two children with autism who were left to fend for themselves after their parents were arrested as part of an investigation into the Gülen movement after the July 15 coup attempt.

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

This man stood up to Trump. In Turkey he was branded a terrorist

Turkish Cultural Center in West Haven hit with graffiti in wake of unrest

Gulen: Erdogan will end up like Hitler and Stalin

Turkish schools and businessmen mobilized for Izmir’s EXPO candidacy

Cameroonian Governor Thanked Turkish Nation for the Turkish Schools

Young Peacebuilders Honored

Schools Founded by Volunteers to Light the Way for the German Educational System

Copyright 2022 Hizmet News