Reactions snowball after PM likens Hizmet members to Hashishin

Date posted: January 15, 2014

Many people from various circles, including politicians and historians, have leveled harsh criticism at the prime minister after he likened members of the Hizmet movement, inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, to a shady group that carried out politically motivated assassinations in the past.

During his parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan again accused the Hizmet movement of orchestrating a wide-reaching corruption and bribery investigation which has implicated some members of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government.

Increasing the intensity of his criticism this time, the prime minister likened the Hizmet movement to the Hashishin, or Hashashim, a religious sect of Shia Muslims originating from Persia. The group, thought to have been active between the 11th and 13th centuries, reportedly carried out politically motivated assassinations after consuming hashish. They usually targeted Muslim rulers. The word “assassin” is derived from the Hashishin.

“We saw this in history during the rule of the Great Seljuk Empire. We saw how a fanatical secret organization tried to take the state higher-ups captive and cooperated with enemies to this end. The Republic of Turkey will never allow such insidious powers or attempts to paralyze the state,” Erdoğan said.

Independent deputy Ertuğrul Günay, who recently parted ways with the AK Party, said he was saddened by the behavior displayed by the prime minister after the launch of the corruption investigation. “I think the prime minister is suffering from serious confusion and has difficulty explaining the troubles he has been faced with. … I cannot explain the prime minister’s actions, directing harsh words at very reputable people and circles [referring to the Hizmet movement],” he stated.

Grand Unity Party (BBP) leader Mustafa Destici called the prime minister’s remarks “ugly and unacceptable.” He said the Hizmet movement carries Turkey’s national and religious values to all corners of the world, adding that the prime minister had in the past hailed the movement for this mission. “No one except terrorist organizations deserves to be likened to the Hashishin. The prime minister has been using polarizing and separatist language recently. This will not do the country any good.”

Since the corruption investigation was made public on Dec. 17, as a result of which 24 people, including the sons of two former ministers, were arrested, Prime Minister Erdoğan has called the investigation a “dirty operation” against the government and Turkey and claimed that the investigation was orchestrated by a “parallel state” and a “gang within the state,” in a veiled reference to the Hizmet movement. “If you pity, you will become pitiable,” he said, indicating that he will continue with his struggle against the movement.

Mustafa Armağan, a writer known for his historical research, said the Hashishin were the first terrorist organization in history. The Hashishin sought to spread the Ismaili Shia rule and killed many Sunni rulers to this end. “It is unjust to compare the damage inflicted on the Sunni Islam world by the Hashishin to the services delivered to Turkey by the Hizmet movement,” he added.

According to Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) deputy Özcan Yeniçeri, the prime minister is using separatist instead of conciliatory language. “Erdoğan is the prime minister of every citizen of this country, including me, but he does not behave so,” he complained, saying the prime minister is using discourse against the Hizmet movement similar to that of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The terrorist group often refers to the movement as a “gang.” In this way, Yeniçeri said, the prime minister is seeking cooperation with the PKK.

“The Hashishin was a separatist organization that inflicted great damage on the Turkish nation. Their purpose was to divide the nation and disrupt peace. The Hizmet movement, on the other hand, is a civilian initiative that strives for Turkey not to be divided and for youths not to fall into the hands of the terrorist PKK. For us, the real Hashishin are the separatists. If the prime minister is looking for a Hashishin, he should look into the mirror,” the deputy stated.

Intellectual and Ali Bulaç, who writes a column for Today’s Zaman, thinks the prime minister made a wrong and disturbing comparison between the Hashishin and the Hizmet movement. “The Hashishin were an underground organization. They were a group of assassins. They targeted statesmen and public officers. They did not know what they were doing as they were consuming hashish,” he said. According to the writer, the prime minister likening the Hizmet movement to the Hashishin will lead to unhappiness among the public. “I cannot understand why the prime minister made those remarks,” he added.

Source: Todays Zaman , January 15, 2014

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