Gulen followers encourage education, awareness


Date posted: December 26, 2018

By Brian Myszkowski / Pocono Record Writer

In spite of the recent subversive attempts to have cleric Fethullah Gulen extradited to Turkey, members of the Alliance for Shared Values are encouraging education and awareness to combat the government’s tactics.

On Dec. 17, an indictment that alleged former President Trump aide Michael Flynn’s business partner Bijan Rafiekian ― aka Bijan Kian ― and Turkish businessman Kamil Alptekin were working illegally on behalf of the Turkish government in an attempt to have Gulen extradicted was unsealed.

Gulen has lived in self-imposed exile at the Golden Generation Worship and Retreat Center in Saylorsburg with a group of followers since the 1990s.

The Alliance for Shared Values, a major part of the Gulen movement, or Hizmet, issued a statement on Monday denouncing the efforts of the Turkish government, asserting that President Recip Tayyip Erdogan’s “government has stamped out the rule of law in its own country.”

On Tuesday, Alliance for Shared Values Executive Director Dr. Alp Aslandogan offered further perspective on the climate among Hizmet followers.

“Hizmet participants continue to raise awareness of the actions and misdeeds of the Erdogan government, including writing, speaking, hosting events and meeting with representatives of the policymaking community,” Aslandogan said. “Thankfully, we are not the only ones speaking out about Erdogan, as members of Congress, prominent NGOs and the media have called him out as well.”

Drawing both domestic and foreign attention to the Erdogan government is an absolute necessity to curtailing actions that have been ruining the lives of innocent people, Aslandogan said.

“The Erdogan government has shown the lengths it is willing to go, from spending millions of dollars to influence Washington to hiring people to break US law,” he said. “Shaming them for this behavior is critical to slowing it down or even stopping it.”

Going forward, Aslandogan and the Alliance share the opinion that making peace in Turkey will necessitate a major overhaul within the country. This is made even more difficult by the fact that followers of people like Gulen are often limited in their capacity to appeal to residents of their homeland by sheer distance, along with the actions of the Turkish government itself.

“We can’t speak for Mr. Gulen on this, but from our perspective it is critical that such change come from the ballot box,” he said. “Unfortunately, that will require significant international oversight since Erdogan controls so many levers of the electoral system in Turkey.”

Aslandogan said that Gulen’s followers are not at all surprised by the actions of the Turkish government, as such practices have become commonplace. Regardless, Hizmet participants continue to focus on their core ideals.

“In that sense, it has become the new normal, although persecution of innocent people is anything but normal,” Aslandogan said. “Hizmet participants remain focused on their core tenets of promoting interfaith dialogue, humanitarian aid, education and service.”

Source: Pocono Record , December 18, 2018


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