The hype about the Gülen Movement

Mustafa Akyol
Mustafa Akyol


Date posted: April 29, 2012

Mustafa AKYOL

Recently, there was a long New York Times story about the matter, which quoted a Turkish journalist who believed that Gülen followers “have proliferated within the police and the judiciary, working behind the scenes to become one of Turkey’s most powerful political forces.” So, as another Turkish journalist, let me also tell you what I think.

One of the hot topics in present-day Turkey is the so-called “Gülen Movement,” a widespread religious network named after its spiritual leader, a Sufi-minded cleric named Fethullah Gülen.

The movement is known for opening modern schools and media outlets, as well as pursuing interfaith dialogue, but lately it has been accused of “taking over the state.” Recently, there was even a long New York Times story about the matter, which quoted a Turkish journalist who believed that Gülen followers “have proliferated within the police and the judiciary, working behind the scenes to become one of Turkey’s most powerful political forces.”

So, as another Turkish journalist, let me also tell you what I think.

First, a reminder: Turkey is a paranoia-rich county. Most people here believe that some hidden power – the CIA, Mossad, “Jews,” freemasons, foreign states, the deep state, or just something – is under every stone. Therefore, if you hear any Turk saying, “Oh my God, there is this scary cabal that is pulling all the strings,” I would suggest taking that with a grain of salt.

Besides, some conspiracy theories about the Gülen Movement (aka Hizmet movement) are already overtly crazy. Just go into any bookstore, and you will see ultra-nationalist bestsellers that blame Gülen for being “a secret Cardinal” (for he is too pro-Christian) or “a CIA puppet” (for he is not categorically anti-American).

Unless proven otherwise, therefore, I take the Gülenists-take-over-the-state theory only as convincing as the above.

However, it is also obvious that the movement has become growingly politicized in the past decade despite their earlier apolitical and non-partisan stance. One only needs to read daily Zaman and Today’s Zaman, or watch their TV counterpart, STV, to see a passion for supporting the investigations and cases against the alleged juntas in the military.

I think this strongly “anti-coup” stance of the movement is the basis of the speculations that they are “taking Turkey over.” My personal version of Occam’s Razor, however, gives me a simpler explanation: Gülen followers are very eager to prevent a military comeback, for they know that they would be its first victim.

You just need to know the history of the movement to see that. They follow in the footsteps of Said Nursi, who was jailed for decades under Mustafa Kemal Atatürk for simply writing books of “religious propaganda,” and whose tomb was torn to pieces by the military junta of 1960. The latest junta, that of “the postmodern coup,” targeted not just Gülen himself – because of it, he moved to the United States – but also all the institutions of the movement.

Therefore, it can well be reasoned that the movement does not want to “take over the state,” but to save it from being taken over by their enemies.

What if this is a transitional stage, though? What if the movement actually wants to establish an “Islamic state,” as all Islamists ultimately want?

I would say no, for two reasons. First, just read Nursi and Gülen, and you will see a clear refusal of Islamism. Their hope is not an “Islamic state,” but an Islam-friendly democratic state, under which their faith-focused “hizmet” (missionary work) can flourish with civil means.

Second, the Gülen Movement is a global one now. It is dedicated to show the world the virtues of Islam, which they think are overshadowed by radical Islamists and jihadists. Their global message is all about tolerance, dialogue and moderation. They would be utterly unwise to tarnish that well-deserved reputation for the sake of the petite politics of a midsize country called Turkey.

Source: Hurriyet Daily News , April/28/201


Related News

The Hizmet Movement and Solutions to Today’s Problems

The Hizmet Essay Contest is a contest series that encourages research on the Hizmet movement and Fethullah Gulen. The contest aims to motivate individuals to research the works of Fethullah Gulen and the activities of various Hizmet institutions locally and globally, with the purpose of addressing how the Hizmet movement contributes to the individual, the […]

Reports of en masse wiretappings denied by prosecutors

Pro-government newspaper reports claiming thousands of people were wiretapped by prosecutors as part of an investigation into an unfamiliar terrorist group have been denied by both prosecutors who handled the investigation.

Fethullah Gulen and February 28th Military Coup

Nazli Ilicak, March 3, 2012 While February 28th is debated these days, a notion has been created as if Gulen was collaborating with “post modern coup.” In fact, Gulen in his interview on Channel-D on April 17,1997 asked Refahyol government to resign. However, these words were spoken in order to reduce the tension in the […]

Former TÜBİTAK VP: Over 250 dismissed in 2 months

The report claimed that large-scale profiling activities have been launched against personnel who possibly have links to a “parallel state” — a term used by pro-government circles to define the faith-based Hizmet movement — upon orders from Science, Industry and Technology Minister Fikri Işık. Those being profiled by the center are being systematically dismissed.

US intel director: Turkish purge impeding fight against ‘Islamic State’

Turkey’s purge has removed military officers who’d been key figures in the US-led fight against the so-called “Islamic State,” says US intelligence head James Clapper. He called it a setback in US-Turkish cooperation.

Warning of another Feb. 28 on the eve of an MGK meeting

National Security Council (MGK) will convene. Turkey is going through a grave security crisis due to the situation in Syria and Iraq, and the escalation of domestic terror. The road map, the peshmerga corridor, martyred security forces…

Latest News

This notable Pocono resident has been living here in exile since 1999

Logistics companies seized over Gülen links sold in fast-track auction

That is Why the Turkish Government could Pay 1 Billion Euros

ECtHR rules Bulgaria violated rights of Turkish journalist who was deported despite seeking asylum

Fethullah Gülen’s Message of Condolences in the Wake of the Western European Floods

Pregnant woman kept in prison for 4 months over Gülen links despite regulations

Normalization of Abduction, Torture, and Death in Erdogan’s Turkey

Turkey’s Maarif Foundation illegally seized German-run school in Ethiopia, says manager

Failed 2016 coup was gov’t plot to purge Gülenists from state bodies, journalist claims

In Case You Missed It

Cartoonists put Refugees’ Plight on Canvas

Turkish-Armenian intellectual says failed coup staged to purge Gülen followers

Plot to discredit Gülen makes its way into espionage indictment in Germany

Syrian Refugees Blanket & Coat Drive

Afghan minister: Afghanistan will continue to support Turkish schools

Turkey: ‘Exclusion for all’ state

Mongolia’s Elite Schools sponsor reading halls at pediatric hospital

Copyright 2021 Hizmet News