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

Turkish “religious advisors” are keeping an eye on Erdogan opponents in Belgium

Turkey is pressuring “religious advisors” to keep an eye on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s opponents in 38 countries, including Belgium. In Belgium, how the religious councillor at the Turkish embassy behaved could be seen as interference.

Once, it was democracy that brought Erdogan and Gülen together

It’s not a war between Erdoğan and [the] Gülen movement. It is a question of whether or not Turkey will be a real democracy.

Trustees decide to remove Gülen’s books from NT bookstores

In an explicit example of censorship, a panel of trustees who were appointed to Kaynak Holding last week in a government-backed move has decided to have copies of all books written by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen removed from the shelves of hundreds of NT Mağazaları bookstores across the country, Today’s Zaman has learned.

Criminal complaint filed against prosecutor accusing Hizmet of being terrorist

A criminal complaint has been filed against Ankara public prosecutor Serdar Coşkun, who prepared an indictment in which by using false testimonies as evidence he accused several people of conducting organized crime under the Hizmet movement which he claimed to be a terrorist organization.

Gülen’s attorney: Media speculation about extradition not true

The lawyer of Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen said in a statement on Monday that the speculation in the media regarding the extradition of his client is far from the truth and that the extradition request itself is unlawful.

Turkey Targets Gulen-Inspired Projects Around the World

In past years, big names in South Africa picked up the annual Gulen Peace Award, a local accolade inspired by a Turkish preacher who has been blamed by Turkey for an attempted coup last month.

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

Counterterrorism judge found to be PM’s strong supporter

Hizmet Symposium: Academics Foster Peacebuilding Advocacy

Liberia: ‘Go Beyond Secondary Education’- VP Urges Liberia’s Turkish Light International School

What we learned from the operation

Q&A: Turkish Imam Fethullah Gulen

With blinders on, government sees everything as parallel structure

Deputy PM Bülent Arınç says row with Hizmet movement would do no good

Copyright 2022 Hizmet News