The AK Party versus the Gülen Community

Mustafa Akyol
Mustafa Akyol


Date posted: December 4, 2013

MUSTAFA AKYOL

These days, the hottest topic in Turkey is the growing tension between the AKP (Justice and Development Party) government and the Fethullah Gülen Movement, a powerful Islamic community with millions of followers and a large civil society presence.

In fact, these two powerful forces, “the party” and the “the community,” used to be close allies until a few years ago, against the old guard, the hardcore secularist establishment. But once the common enemy is defeated, the differences between the two sides began to grow into a dispute, and lately, a bitter war of words. Meanwhile many names in the media have taken sides in this conflict, unless they are sworn enemies of both.

To those who ask me “which side” I support, I say that I merely support my principles. The first of these is the professionalism of the bureaucracy. In other words, I believe that state institutions such as the police force should be professional, in the sense of doing its constitutionally defined job and not serving any religious, ideological or sectarian agenda. I therefore admit that the much-debated alleged presence of the members of the Gülen Movement in the police force, and even judiciary, as a “parallel state” with its own subjective goals is unacceptable. If the government sees such a risk, it certainly can take measures within the bureaucracy to defuse such a subjective concentration of power. The state, after all, is the realm of the government.

However, the autonomy and the freedom of civil society, private enterprise and free market are among my core principles, too. Therefore, I would be against any authoritarian intrusion by the state into these civil realms.

The core of the new tension, Erdoğan’s effort to close (or, euphemistically “transform”) “prep schools” is such an authoritarian move that I certainly oppose. These weekend courses are a form of supply the market has offered in the face a demand: preparing students for the national university exam. If the state wants to change anything, it can only improve its poor education system and therefore help in decreasing the demand for these prep schools. But it cannot legitimately close them, as it cannot legitimately close restaurants, shopping centers or department stores.

Some argue that when the governing party passes a law which will effectively close down the prep schools, the opposition in the Parliament can appeal to the Constitutional Court. If this happens, and the court annuls the law finding it contradictory to the constitutional guarantees for private enterprise, it will be a good step for Turkey. We will see that “the national will” can be, and should be, constrained by fundamental rights and freedoms.

On a broader level, what we Turks should learn from this party-versus-community conflict is the burning need to define the boundaries of state and the proper functioning of civil society. The government needs to learn that its authority is limited with state bureaucracy, whereas the society has no obligation to praise, support and even respect those who are in power. Meanwhile, religious or ideological groups in society should accept that their freedom in the civil realm is untouchable while the state’s neutrality is uncompromisable.

Source: Hurriyet Daily News , December 4, 2013


Related News

Turkey to Release Tens of Thousands of Prisoners to Make Room for Coup Suspects

Turkey said on Wednesday that it would empty its prisons of tens of thousands of criminals to make room for the wave of journalists, teachers, lawyers and judges rounded up in connection with last month’s failed coup.

Hizmet school ready to pioneer education in Kurdish

Following the decision to allow education in languages other than Turkish in private schools, as part of the democratization package recently unveiled by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, a private school run by Gülen movement volunteers said it is ready to start education in Kurdish once such a law is introduced.

Turkish experts and doctors seek asylum in Greece

A group of 33 Turks, including academics, doctors and civil servants, are seeking political asylum in Greece for fear of persecution at home. The group is believed to be supporters of the Hizmet movement, led by the US-based cleric Fethullah Gülen.

Hate Crime: Lists of “Gulen pupils” circulating in Amsterdam

Lists are circulating in Amsterdam containing the names of Turkish students in Amsterdam schools, with details on who supports Fethullah Gulen and Who Supports Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan. About 150 primary school students did not show up for school this week due to “intimidation and bullying” related to tensions in the Turkish community. The municipality deployed extra education inspectors to visit parents who are keeping their children home from school.

The Process Behind Turkey’s Proposed Extradition of Fethullah Gülen

By publicly campaigning for Gülen’s immediate extradition—before a formal request had been submitted—Turkish officials reinforced the idea that the United States is somehow protecting Gülen or resisting the extradition process. That is not true. There will be critics of any eventual decision, just as there are critics of the delay in reaching a decision. Whatever the result, both governments should communicate the decision with consideration for the long-term relationship and should operate on the assumption that the other is acting in good faith.

Sabotage: government-Gülen movement relations

We are facing a new situation that we are all trying to understand. First, the summoning of the undersecretary of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT), Hakan Fidan, and several other MİT administrators to testify as suspects has turned into an unprecedented and serious problem. Those waiting in the wings encouraged a debate that started as […]

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

Inside Turkey’s Purge

Kurdish intellectuals denounce attack on Şırnak educational institution

Interview: U.S. Judge Says Turkey’s Judiciary ‘Taken Over’ By Erdogan

Behind the secret documents – Turkish government profiled a large number of individuals

Gülen’s lawyer files lawsuit over unlawful police probe into Hizmet

The Commissioner for Political Affairs opened the 14th International Festival of Language and Culture

Educational unions lash out against gov’t-backed school raids

Copyright 2021 Hizmet News