An Indian professor’s reflections on Erdogan’s visit to India, crackdown on Gulen movement


Date posted: May 2, 2017

Dr. Kashif Hasan Khan

I would like to bring to your kind notice that I have been a victim of what happened on 15th July, 2016 on the streets of two beautiful cities of Turkey: Istanbul and Ankara.

I joined Mevlana University in Konya, Turkey in 2015 as an assistant professor of International trade. Mevlana was among the several well-known educational institutions linked to Gulen movement. The same University awarded an honorary degree to our Vice-President Dr. Hamid Ansari in 2011. On 18th of July, 2016, I lost job, salary, compensation, and even my savings. I have been writing to the ministry of education council and labor ministry of Turkey, but no response has come so far. There has been a complete violation of my rights in Turkey.

I am apolitical person; I decided to go to Turkey to earn a decent living. It was my first year of teaching abroad, and I was lucky to have students from more than 25 countries. While teaching at Mevlana I happened to learn a lot of things about Gulen and his movement. But, I never saw any unusual thing at the university. I, even, never came across anyone condemning the government for the harsh treatment they began receiving from the president Tayyip Erdogan since December 2013.


There has been no evidence of any terrorist activity by the followers of Gulen in any part of the world including Turkey. In India, they have been running their institutions: schools, coaching Institutes, and dormitories for more than 15 years, but none has been accused of any kind of terrorism and crime.


My worries started after a month of joining Mevlana when Bank Asya, the Gulenist bank, was enforced to shut down by the government. Salaries of all employees of Mevlana were subject to be credited in the accounts with bank asya. We heard that the bank was no more a property of Gulen followers, although they started this bank in 1996 and Erdogan cut the ribbon in opening ceremony.

I remember once I shared my worries about Bank Asya with my head of the department, who has been in prison since October, 2016. He advised me to focus on my academic work and teach well at the university, and ensured me that “Almighty gave this opportunity to do Hizmet (service) to people and it is he who has taken back. Be patient! This is the test of our faith.”

Until a few years ago, Gulen was an Erdogan ally, and backed his rise, first as prime minister and then president. But in late 2013, Gulen challenged Erdogan’s tightening grip on power. Gulen and his supporters in the judiciary have in the past pushed for a corruption investigation into Erdogan, sparking a bitter political divide. Turkish authorities had also accused Gulen of forming an opposing “state within a state.” Erdogan told Gulenists in 2013 “I will not let u drink a glass of water,” since then human rights and the rule of law have been seriously eroded in Turkey.

I am extremely surprised to see that the person who has failed in respecting democracy and dealing with issues such as Kurds and ISIS in his own country is now suggesting country like India, the largest democracy in the world, how to deal with issues such as Kashmir. He thinks of himself as a messiah of Muslims. He must deal with his own issues in his own country and stop carrying his domestic agendas. He has condemned the countries, including Germany, the USA, and almost all African and central Asians, for not acting on his request about taking actions against the Gulen-followers. They refused to do that and questioned Erdogan about the authenticity of evidences his government had produced.

Gulen movement – a faith-based world-wide Islamic civic social movement, presses for a moderate version of Sunni Islam that emphasizes tolerance and interfaith dialogue. The organization lacks any official hierarchy or structure, but followers have built up a network of think tanks, schools, and publications in locations around the world. I have read a number of books written by Gulen. He has always promoted education, secularism, free markets, and democracy. His writings are well known for promoting religious tolerance, peace, and justice. He has been acknowledged as one of the top world’s most influential Muslims.

Although there was an unfavorable environment throughout my stay in Turkey, I still managed to cope-up with that and kept focusing on improving my academic abilities. The worst came at the night of 15 July, 2016 when tanks rolled on the streets. That night snatched my job, my money, and my students.

As a matter of fact, I expected that the university would be closed soon as the government of Turkey was channelizing all its strength to finish Gulenist from the surface of Turkey. But, I did not expect that this end would come in the form of 15 July, 2016 that left more than 260 innocent people killed. Just twenty minutes after the military coup attempt surfaced, before the real actors were known, President Erdogan hastily blamed Gulen and his followers. It is troubling that an accusation was issued without waiting for the event’s details and the perpetrators’ motives to emerge.

Ever since the attempted coup, no international investigation agency has been allowed to investigate. Gulen has called for an international investigation to find those responsible for the coup attempt not relying on Turkish Judicial system that he accused of currently being highly politicized. Through several means, time and again, Gulen has strongly condemned the coup attempt and praised the Turkish people as heroes who saved democracy.

There has been no evidence of any terrorist activity by the followers of Gulen in any part of the world including Turkey. In India, they have been running their institutions: schools, coaching Institutes, and dormitories for more than 15 years, but none has been accused of any kind of terrorism and crime. They have organized a number of interfaith dialogues, academic conferences, and business promotional programs. All are on record. There is no evidence that suggests any harm so far. Rather, the regime of Mr. Erdogan has been characterized as increasingly illiberal, with attacks on freedom of expression and suppressing any voice that falls against him. He blamed Gulen network for leading a coup attempted on 15 July, 2016 against his government in a statement to the Turkish people delivered through FaceTime and broadcast on television.

It is my humble request you to please take into account above-mentioned points before you arrive at any decision about Gulen-followers. And, I don’t know when will I get my rights back; however, I am sure that If my government helps me, I can access them sooner than later.

Your’s Faithfully
Dr. Kashif Hasan Khan
Mumbai, India

Source: The Citizen , May 2, 2017


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