Date posted: January 22, 2014
Holding ia press conference in light of the recent row between the government and the Hizmet movement on Wednesday, Journalists and Writers Foundation (GYV) President Mustafa Yeşil asdi the Hizmet movement has not changed its principles in the last half century but the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has been transformed by the state and lost its reformist nature.
Meeting with mostly representatives of foreign media outlets in İstanbul, Yeşil emphasized the principles of the Hizmet movement inspired by the teachings of Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, such as voluntarism, independence from the state and civility, while arguing that the AK Party has set aside concerns for further democratization.
Had the AK Party adhered to the European Union process and continued its progressive efforts, it could have further democratized the country, according to Yeşil. However, “The state has transformed the AK Party, and what we see now is a party-state,” Yeşil pointed out. He argued that after gaining control of the institutions inherited from the military tutelage system, the government halted democratization.
Summarizing the guiding principles of the Hizmet movement, Yeşil said that, as a civil society movement based on voluntarism, the Hizmet movement has not changed its principles in the last 50 years. Underlining the importance of the movement’s financial and intellectual independence, Yeşil said the Hizmet movement has never received any support from the state.
“Hizmet has never led its supporters to a specific political party,” Yeşil noted. However, in response to a question about the possible reaction of Hizmet movement followers within the AK Party, Yeşil said that since the prime minister’s insulting remarks about the Hizmet movement have caused strong disappointment among people who vote for the AK Party, their reaction will be reflected in the election. “Time will tell what this reflection will be, but the prime minister’s reaction is not proportionate against … a group with 1 percent of the vote,” Yeşil added.
Emphasizing the importance the Hizmet movement attaches to pluralism and accepting people as they are, Yeşil said, however, that there is prejudice, misinformation and defamation surrounding the movement in the media. And yet, Yeşil said that no matter how harsh the criticisms and insults are, the movement will keep its calm attitude and principle of “positive action.”
Hizmet movement is not a secret organization
Also responding to journalists’ questions, associate professor İhsan Yılmaz of Fatih University said that although there have been similar accusations about the Hizmet movement since the Ergenekon trials, claiming that it has control over the judiciary and the police, there has not been a single piece of evidence proving such arguments.
“There are Hizmet people within the state bureaucracy,” Yılmaz says, but he emphasizes that there is no proof that they receive orders from anyone but their superiors within the state. According to him, such arguments attract attention because they are “juicy” and include elements about an imam controlling the state.
Yılmaz said the Hizmet movement is not a secret organization, noting that it is difficult to determine who its followers are. “Is it the businessman who donates a million dollars to Kimse Yok Mu [Is Anybody There], or the foreign teacher who works at Turkish schools abroad?” Yılmaz asked.
He further stated that the organizations affiliated with the Hizmet movement are under the scrutiny of the state and are transparent. However, he acknowledged that people who support the Hizmet movement within the state do not always openly express their feelings, because the state has always been oppressive of religious people in Turkey. “You cannot blame them,” Yılmaz said in reference to those bureaucrats. He also referred to the secret data collection on civil servants who are suspected of being close to the Hizmet movement by the National Intelligence Agency (MİT).
According to Yılmaz, Hizmet receives its legitimacy from its supporters, and nobody is compelled to join or leave the Hizmet movement.
Hizmet movement does not perform political engineering
Responding to a reporter’s question, Yeşil said the Hizmet movement does not have an operating style that favors political engineering. He said the principles of the Hizmet movement overlapped with the principles of the AK Party when it was established. Yılmaz also noted that the Hizmet movement applauded the government up until 2010.
As far as the vision of the Hizmet movement when it comes to the secular state is concerned, Yeşil referred to Gülen’s statement that the state does not have a religion, unlike individuals. According to him, as long as an individual is able to freely practice his faith, teach it to his children and have institutions where he can receive religious education, there is no need to search for another form of state.
Source: Todays Zaman , January 22, 2014