Turkey’s long arm and espionage activities against dissidents living in exile in Canada has become a growing concern. As revealed in a startling recent news report, 15 Turkish-Canadians have been targeted by the Turkish government within the scope of a “terrorism” investigation.
The purge of the Hizmet Movement is what the Kurdish question was to Kemalism, a necessary tool with which to construct a new national identity, a tool to silence those who question it, and to design a social and political system that will foster it. Unfortunately, Turkey has no chance of going back, even to its fragile and dysfunctional democracy, without this narrative being completely rejected.
Turkey is where it is today, not because of Gulen and the Hizmet Movement but rather as the product of a change of heart in the current government leadership, flushing good governance and tolerance components from the country’s management affairs running systems. Solution to the Ankara crisis can only be found through establishing its root cause rather than finding a scapegoat.
South Africa is a good example of a country that has not been pressured into adopting the narrative touted by the Turkish government. Local politicians, students and academics regularly acknowledge the Hizmet Movement’s altruistic activities in the country.
What explains Gulen’s deep faith in peace, nonviolence, human dignity and inter-faith tolerance and dialogue as the cornerstones of Islam? For answer, we have to know something about the ‘Guru’ who influenced him – Bediuzzaman Said Nursi (1878-1960), one of the greatest Islamic theologians of the last century.
One such case is the experience of thousands of Turkish people under the Erdogan regime after the failed coup attempt in July 2016. Soon after the coup attempt, Erdogan’s regime launched a crackdown on opponents and critics, detaining thousands of journalists, rights activists, lawyers, teachers and writers for their alleged involvement in anti-state activities.
Turkey’s strategic importance cannot be overestimated. However, Erdogan’s personal friendship with Trump alone cannot resolve the difficulties. Even if Trump may be willing to find a way to extradite Gulen or find another country to accept him in order to placate a NATO partner for geopolitical reasons, he must not. The damage to the rule of law would outweigh any benefit Trump hopes to gain from such an action.
Gülen comes off in the book as a charismatic figure, who is defined by humility. You can understand why some might find him troubling. He has inspired great loyalty. Yet, like the Dalai Lama and Pope Francis, he has used this charisma and loyalty for the good. A biography like this is important because it brings to life both the person, whose vision led to the creation of the movement and the nature of the movement itself.
No individual’s pain is to be underestimated. Thousands of families are being forced to leave their homeland by violence, terror, or fear of political prosecution. I would like to particularly talk about people of Turkey, who has been forced to leave their country since the Turkish Government ordered a massive witch hunt on members of the Hizmet (Gulen) movement after the July 15, 2016 coup attempt.
I am of the firm opinion that Hizmet movement had been practically the core civilizing, and transformative engine for strong Turkish civil society in this modern age. The movement has had, without any doubt, facilitated and consolidated Turkey’s strong civil society and democracy.
Despite the outward appearance of Islamic observance, Erdogan regime represents a complete betrayal of core Islamic values. These core values are not about a style of dressing or the use of religious slogans. They include respect for the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary, accountability for the rulers and the preservation of inalienable rights and freedoms of every citizen.
The situation in Turkey has been very bad since a failed coup attempt in 2016. Erdogan unleashed a massive purge, firing more than 100,000 public-sector workers and imprisoning more than 50,000 people. These people are not criminals. They include judges, academics and journalists. Erdogan thinks free speech is dangerous, and he accuses critics of being terrorists.