Date posted: January 21, 2014
Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Monday that the Hizmet movement does not form alliances with any political party or candidate, as he emphasized the importance of democratic values and universal human rights and freedoms when supporting a political movement.
In response to a question on whether “the alliance” between the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the Hizmet movement had ended, Gülen said, “If we can talk about an alliance, it was around [the] shared values of democracy, universal human rights and freedoms — never for political parties or candidates.” Referring to the constitutional reforms of 2010, which the Hizmet movement supported, Gülen said, “If these democratic reforms, which are in line with [the] European Union’s requirements for membership, were done by [the Republican People’s Party] CHP before, I would have supported them.”
However, he ruled out any alliance with the CHP or any other political party in the upcoming elections, as he reiterated that their support or criticism has always been around values. “We will continue to advocate for democracy,” Gülen insisted, continuing, “Whether the stance or actions of the political actors are consistent with their earlier record should be decided by the Turkish people and unbiased observers.”
Responding to a question on his disappointment with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s leadership, Gülen said that throughout the AK Party period, they have supported democratization reforms and criticized and opposed anti-democratic actions. However, he noted, “For instance, in 2005 we criticized the draft anti-terror law that defined terror crimes too broadly and risked harming freedoms.”
According to Gülen, the Erdoğan government has failed to draft a new, civilian and democratic constitution that could “consolidate the democratic gains and would anchor Turkey at [the] democratic values of [the] EU.” He pointed out that the government had promised to make democratic reforms after receiving the public support of 58 percent in the referendum on reform in 2010, which Gülen himself also strongly supported.
Officers should be subjected to investigation if they breach laws
In response to a question on the extensive purges in the police force, Gülen’s response is clear. “If the members of the police force or any other government agency have breached the laws of the country or the rules of their institutions, nobody can defend such actions and they should be subjected to legal or institutional investigation,” he said.
However, Gülen says that it is a violation of human rights and the rule of law if people are “profiled based on their worldviews or affinities, and subjected to discriminatory treatment” without having committed any crime.
According to Gülen, reshuffles and purges based on ideology, sympathies or worldview were a practice of the past. He also noted that the same members of the police force and the judiciary were praised a few months ago by the government.
On whether the Hizmet movement encourages students to choose a career path in the police or the judiciary, Gülen notes that because his first and foremost advocacy is for education, many people who agree with his ideas have established various types of educational institutions, from dormitories and exam preparation centers to private schools and free tuition centers.
“I have encouraged Turkish people to be represented in all facets of the Turkish society and in every institution of their country, because it is important that these institutions reflect the society’s diversity,” Gülen went on to say, before adding that historically, graduating from a Hizmet school has been a potential source of discrimination within the police and judiciary.
Protective law for MİT staff could have been applied to military
As far as the review of the judgments against military officers accused of plotting coups is concerned, Gülen says, “If new evidence has emerged, or it is determined that the legal procedure was flawed, then retrial becomes a legal right.”
However, according to him, if the intention is to completely abolish the verdicts of thousands of trials, “then such a move would both undermine the credibility of the justice system and reverse the democratic gains of the past decade.”
Directing attention to the government’s controversial attitude on this issue, Gülen also said that “the leaders of the present government for years championed these trials as a triumph of democracy and applauded the brave prosecutors and judges, in their language, who took part in them.”
Making a comparison with the case in which the director of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) was contacted by a prosecutor to question him about the alleged participation of intelligence officers in the terrorist acts of Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) and Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) units, Gülen said that although the government immediately passed a law requiring the prime minister’s approval to investigate the intelligence director, it has not offered similar protection to the accused chief of General Staff or army commanders.
Regarding the threats made against businesses owned by Hizmet followers, Gülen said that they are no longer threats but a reality, saying, “The Koza group, İstikbal group and Bank Asya were targeted with various forms of extraordinary inspections, fines, permit cancellations, and massive unscheduled fund withdrawals, which followed [a] negative campaign against the bank in certain news outlets known to be close to the ruling party.”
In response to a question on the difference between President Abdullah Gül and Erdoğan, Gülen said the Hizmet movement has never advocated “supporting a party or candidate” before pointing out that “individual Hizmet participants have found certain parties and candidates closer to their beliefs and values [and] supported them out of their [own] free will.”
Source: Todays Zaman , January 21, 2014
Tags: Democracy | Freedoms | Hizmet (Gulen) movement | Turkey |