Turkey’s request for U.S. extradition of self-exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen refers only to his alleged activities before last month’s failed coup attempt, for which the Turks have not yet provided any evidence of his involvement, a senior administration official said.
It is hard to find a parallel for what has transpired in Turkey since last month’s failed coup without making comparison with the Nuremburg decrees of 1935 that legally ostracized Germany’s Jews and people of Jewish ancestry. Yet Nazi anti-Semitism had a clear and straight-forward rationale, while the popular furor in Turkey over the Hizmet bears the flavor of a personal grudge match between two one-time friends. No ideology. Just down and dirty, no holds barred.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the United States must make a choice between Ankara and a movement led by US-based dissident Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen. Ankara has accused Gulen and his followers of playing a key role in the July 15 attempted coup, which claimed lives of over 240 people.
For Gülen, a man of prayer, the Qur’an contains an ethic of citizenship. In the name of Islam, he advocates education, productivity, dialogue with the sciences and universal friendship. These are the values promoted by Hizmet, the Gülen Movement. While religiously based, Hizmet is an educational movement. It is obvious that the faith-based Hizmet has no affinity whatever with the secularism of the military clique that staged the recent revolt.
On a visit to Washington to lobby for Gülen’s extradition, Nationalist Action party parliamentarian Kamil Aydin expressed his belief that “America is going to refuse losing Turkey as a good partnership in the region.” But even if Turkish politicians do not believe that America operates according to the rule of law, they should at least be aware that most Americans are proud to think that it does.
When the Hizmet Movement or Hocaefendi are mentioned specifically by governmentally influenced press in Turkey, it harms Turkey. Yes, it harms Hocaefendi, but not nearly as much as it harms Turkey. Turkey is hurting itself today when it limits political discussion, when it maligns its political adversaries, when it uses political tools and economic tools to harm social services and educational institutions in Turkey.
“Whatever the merits of the government’s claims about the movement’s role in the coup, which Gülen himself denies, the speed and scale of the dismissals make it clear that many of those affected by the purge are caught up in it not because there is clear evidence of their involvement in the coup but merely because of their perceived association with the Gülen movement.”
Usually, if you hear about a particular ethnic group that’s a victim of graffiti, it’s from some other ethnic group or someone who doesn’t understand their culture. But a building facing the Turkish Cultural Center Connecticut recently was tagged — for the second time in three years — with graffiti that appears to be an extension of a political battle raging within Turkey itself.
The extradition of an elderly cleric living in Pennsylvania who Turkish officials allege orchestrated last month’s failed coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has not drawn serious consideration by U.S. officials, a federal law enforcement official said Friday.
In a rare public appearance recently, Gülen stated he had nothing to do with the attempt. Nor has Erdogan provided any obvious evidence that Gülen or his movement were plotting anything. Gülen lives quietly in Ross Township. It will take much detailed research to determine whether to grant Erdogan’s request that Gülen be extradited. U.S. officials should base such a move on only the most compelling evidence. Otherwise, they may be sending a lamb into a lion’s den.
“We’re very concerned about his safety,” said Reid Weingarten, a member of Gülen’s legal team, at a press conference on Friday in Washington DC. Weingartern repeated Gülen’s denials that he was involved in the attempted coup attempt and suggested that the Turkish government’s evidence will fall far short of American legal standards. “For Mr Gülen to be involved, he would have to be acting inconsistent with everything he’s done his entire adult life,” he said.