Answers to slanderous accusations about Hizmet movement

(Photo: Today's Zaman)
(Photo: Today's Zaman)

Date posted: August 13, 2013

The Journalists and Writers Foundation (GYV) has responded to a series of controversial claims and slanderous accusations made about the Hizmet movement which the foundation said are designed to pit the government against the movement and create tension between the two.

Currently there is a lot of talk on social media and among some media circles about an alleged and growing tension between the Hizmet movement, inspired by Turkish-Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who is also an honorary chair of the GYV, and the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government.

Releasing a statement on Tuesday, the GYV said that although those who bring up controversial allegations about the Hizmet movement need to show evidence to prove their claims, the foundation felt an obligation to respond to the allegations as a sign of respect for the public’s right to be informed.

Hizmet did not have any role in Gezi protests

One of the claims circulating in the country about the movement is that the Hizmet movement was behind the Gezi Park protests that took place in May and June in protest of government plans to demolish Gezi Park in İstanbul’s Taksim Square. The protests spread nationwide and turned into anti-government rallies due to an excessive use of force by the police.

The GYV said both statements made by Gülen and the stance taken by the movement during the protests show how groundless this claim is.

“Hizmet is not against the people’s right to hold peaceful protests in line with its respect for democracy, if they do not involve violence. Yet because such protests are open to abuse, the movement does not encourage its followers to take part in such protests,” the GYV said in its statement, adding that not only the Hizmet movement, but also President Abdullah Gül and some senior government officials criticized the excessive use of force by the police in the initial days of the protests.

Another claim suggesting that Gezi protestors were not arrested but were released by prosecutors and judges who are close to the movement was also refuted by the GYV. The GYV statement said all judges and prosecutors are public officials who are subject to the authority and supervision of the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) and if they made professional mistakes, the responsibility for this lies with the Justice Ministry and the HSYK. The GYV also strongly denied the claim that police officers close to the Hizmet movement set the tents of the demonstrators in Gezi Park on fire and helped the demonstrations grow by encouraging a harsh police response.

The foundation said that given the fact that members of the police force are public officials and tied to the Interior Ministry, it is illogical to attribute the responsibility for their actions to a civil society movement.

The GYV added that has become known that orders for police intervention in the Gezi protests came from the government and that the tents were set ablaze by municipal police officers.

In June, four officers from the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality and an assistant technician were suspended from their posts for burning tents belonging to Gezi Park protesters.

Hizmet is against the coup in Egypt

Allegations against the Hizmet movement are not only limited to the Gezi Park protests, as some claim that the movement has not voiced opposition to the recent military coup in Egypt that toppled the country’s first democratically elected president.

According to the GYV, it is impossible for a movement that was victimized by every coup that has taken place in Turkey not to oppose coups.

“It is obvious that such an attitude aims to discredit the Hizmet movement in the eyes of the public,” the statement said and added Gülen’s remarks on the coup in Egypt: “Democracy has been dealt another blow.”

Gülen, in remarks broadcast on, also said that Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s ouster will go down in history as a “black stain.”

Hizmet supports settlement process

The ongoing settlement process between the government and the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) is yet another issue for which the Hizmet movement is being criticized for allegedly opposing.

In its statement, the GYV referred to Gülen’s statements on the issue showing the movement’s support for the process.

In remarks broadcast on in January, just after the settlement process became public, Gülen said, “As long as national dignity and pride are not undermined, every necessary step should be taken to maintain peace because there are benefits in peace.”

“If problems are to be resolved, there could be some issues that we would find unnerving. Some may say, ‘If only those talks had not taken place. If only that agreement had not been made. If only that consensus had not been reached. We, the Turkish nation, are so proud; we have dignity, we should not bow our head, we should say yes to certain things,’” Gülen said in June.

Claims about Hizmet in politics

Another claim refuted by the GYV suggested that the path to an alternative government leads back to Pennsylvania, where Gülen resides and that those seeking an alternative to AK Party government go there to meet with Gülen.

“It is not only wrong but also misleading to present visits to a civilian opinion leader, respected by all segments of society, as a search for an alternative government,” the GYV said, noting that it is impossible for Gülen to reject people due to his mission and values, as long as his health permits it.

With regard to claims that the Hizmet movement wants to establish tutelage of the bureaucracy and become a partner in government, the GYV said it is nothing but nonsense to accuse the Hizmet movement, a democratic, civilian movement, of trying to establish tutelage of the government and having designs of becoming a partner in government.

“In democracies, governments come to power through elections and leave power only through elections. Nonetheless, citizens and actors of civil society have the right to criticize and make suggestions on any subject between the two elections and this cannot be seen as interference in state administration,” the GYV explained.

Claims were also made that the Hizmet movement would arrest the prime minister on Feb. 7, 2012, when a specially-authorized public prosecutor in İstanbul invited National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Undersecretary Hakan Fidan, former MİT Undersecretary Emre Taner, former Deputy Undersecretary Afet Güneş and two MİT officials to testify in an investigation into the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), which the prosecutors say encompasses the PKK. Some said that if the government had not acted, this investigation would have even reached the prime minister, resulting in his arrest.

“It is a well-known fact that — let alone a public prosecutor — even the chief public prosecutor at the Supreme Court of Appeals does not have the authority to file a case against the prime minister and ministers. Taking this into consideration, the claim that ‘the prime minister would be arrested,’ does not have any validity other than being slanderous nonsense,” the GYV said.

The GYV also strongly denied claims that the Hizmet movement will strike a deal or an alliance with some political parties and individuals in the elections, saying that it is impossible for Hizmet to be involved in such an alliance, either in the past or in the future.

“Making an alliance with a party runs contrary to the Hizmet movement’s being an above-the-parties movement and the existence of individuals from every political view among its followers,” the foundation said.

Yet another controversial accusation against the Hizmet movement was the one suggesting that a bugging device found in the prime minister’s office was placed there by individuals close to the movement. The GYV said it condemns such accusations and calls for the judiciary and the government to take the necessary action in the bugging device controversy.

During a TV program in late 2012, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced that listening devices were found in his office in his Ankara home, but he did not specify when the devices were found. “Security units [the police] found those devices. They were placed inside the office in my house. Such things occur despite all measures taken to prevent them,” he stated.

An investigation of the incident is underway.

Why is Gülen not returning to Turkey? He is under US influence

Finally, the GYV responded to claims about Gülen’s residence in the US and not returning to Turkey. Some circles claim that the Islamic scholar acts under the influence of the US.

“This is very obvious slander and an insult to Mr. Gülen. Those bringing up such claims were already making the same claims when Gülen was living in Turkey years ago,” the GYV said, recalling that Gülen’s decision to stay in the US is due to his sensitivity to damaging democratic gains in Turkey.

Responding to a call from Prime Minister Erdoğan in June 2012 for his return to Turkey, Gülen extended his thanks to Erdoğan for his kind invitation, but said he prefers staying in the US to “avoid damaging positive developments in Turkey.”

Gülen is highly respected both in Turkey and in many countries around the world for educational activities he has pioneered, along with his efforts to promote intercultural and interfaith activities around the globe. He is in self-imposed exile in the US, though there is no legal hurdle that prevents him from returning to Turkey.

Directly Related Articles

Take protests seriously, work to solve problems, Fethullah Gülen urges

Gülen: Democracy dealt yet another blow in Egypt

Fethullah Gülen backs peace talks between government and PKK

Hizmet and politics

Source: Today's Zaman , August 13, 2013

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