Fethullah Gulen, the [Gulen] community, and the prep schools

Hadi Uluengin
Hadi Uluengin


Date posted: December 27, 2013

Hadi Uluengin

It is no secret that my bonds of affection with the honorable and wise religious leader Fethullah Gulen and his movement go back more than twenty years.  Even in those sinister days of 28th of February [military coup], when the army generals spread fear, I did not jump on the bandwagon. To put it bluntly, I did not sell the [Gulen] community.

In those days when the secularists like me, guided by their old prejudices, raised a ruckus and labeled the community radical the author of these lines underlined again and again on the vital importance of this visionary leader and his remarkable movement.”

I repeatedly indicated how Mr. Gulen, starting out with a religious perspective, was conveying a message of civility, reconciliation, solidarity, and brotherhood/sisterhood. In the final analysis, his universal message and culture are revolutionary not just for Turkey, but for the entire Islamic world.

I also noted that [his message] is closely related to the Nur teachings of Bediuzzaman. As a result, while I continued to criticize the movement’s relative lack of transparency, lack of visible women, and the shallowness of its aesthetic criterion, my love and friendship for its leader continued.

However, to be honest, I should also add the rumors that the prosecutors and judges of the Ergenekon and Balyoz [coup attempt] cases are connected with the Gulen movement.

It does not matter how much of a grudge I bear against the defendants, for the lopsidedness of penalties always prick my conscience.

If these rumors are to some extent true, then I want to think that they are contrary to Gulen’s personal will, as I have no doubt about his sense of justice.

But as I said, presumption (about the movement’s or Gulen’s involvement in those trials) is only an assertion. However, as the attempts to defame the movement are a reality, any criticism remains unreliable, except for one: the lack of transparency.

You probably guessed right: I wrote these lines because of the conflicts between Mr. Gulen/the Hizmet movement and the AKP government due to the latter’s initiative to close down the prep schools.

This decision can neither be upheld nor be approved for three reasons.

First, it is not a matter of these schools being something ennobling in essence; rather, it is a matter of the shortcomings of the current Turkish education system making them mandatory. Therefore, it would be disastrous to close them down.

Second, closing these schools down by means of a suddenly announced decision and without establishing any consultation mechanisms can only be considered another example of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ever-growing authoritarian governing style. Not even the military governments ever touched the movement’s schools.

And finally, one would either be very naive or extremely partisan to think that this attempt is innocent, that there are no secret plans to finish off the Hizmet movement.

In any case, all of this leads to the same conclusion: Under Erdogan’s leadership, the government is becoming an intolerant one-man tyranny in its attempt to fulfill his social engineering vision.

However, I am obliged to play the devil’s advocate and adopt a fair approach.

I believe that the 2004 National Security Council’s brief and the reports profiling the Hizmet Movement in following years were not implemented, although the government members who signed and subsequently hid them were unethical.

To tell the truth, except for the last few months of the AKP’s governance, one cannot say that any compulsive, confiscatory, or spiritual measures have been taken against the movement at all.

I trust that Fethullah Gulen Hocaefendi, with his endless sense of fairness, is aware of this situation. He feels offended firstly because the government signed it without hesitation, and secondly because it has profiled [both him and the movement].

In any case, resisting the closure of the movement’s prep schools is the same as resisting an authoritarian course of events!

[Original article is in Turkish]

Source: Taraf Newspaper , December 12, 2013


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