July 8, 2011

Strategic Defamation of Fethullah Gulen: English vs. Turkish (*)

Doğan Koç

Fethullah Gulen
Fethullah Gulen
Fethullah Gulen is a moderate Turkish Muslim scholar who is mostly known for his education and dialogue activities. Gulen Movement, named after him, has established hundreds of education and dialogue institutions throughout the world. Several books, hundreds of articles and news reports have been written about Gulen himself and the Movement.

Some of these books and articles defame Gulen and the movement. In these defamatory articles, Türker (2009) points out that there are different strategies used in different languages. According to Türker, there is a big contradiction between the English and Turkish versions of articles defaming Gülen. While, in Turkish-language accounts, Gulen is portrayed as a CIA/Zionist agent, a US puppet, a secret cardinal of the Pope and a Western Trojan horse in the Muslim world who is trying to either Christianize Muslims or making it easy for Western powers to exploit the Muslim world through his moderate Islamic teachings; on the other hand, in the English versions of the critiques, he is portrayed as anti-Semitic, anti-Western and trying to Islamize Christians, and as a second Khomeini who is trying to establish an Islamic caliphate in the world (Türker, 2009).

This paper analyzes articles and books both Turkish and English that are critical of Fethullah Gulen, and illustrates that these defamations are not random, they appear according to audiences. In other words, as Türker (2009) points out:
“….they are addressing different audiences. It makes more sense to warn Turkish speakers of an American imperialist danger which is supported by Zionists. But, on the other hand, for English speakers, you will find more buyers if you use an Islamic danger argument.”
Hikmet Cetinkaya, ‘one of Fethullah Gulen's most relentless enemies,’ is a very good example of this strategic defamation. Hikmet Cetinkaya has written many articles and 10 books defaming Gulen in Turkish. Though he also claimed that Gulen is trying to establish an Islamic state in Turkey, his main argument in these articles and books is that Gulen an American puppet and he is controlled by America (see section Defamation of Gulen in Turkish and Appendix for more information).

However, the same Hikmet Cetinkaya appears several times in a Dutch TV documentary (NOVA, 2008) and warns Dutch people. The main argument in the documentary is that the Gulen Movement is a dangerous radical Islamist movement which is trying to Islamize the West while using religiously-sanctioned dissimulation in its interaction with the Western world (Sharon-Krespin, 2009).

In other words, while in his writings in Turkish, Hikmet Cetinkaya mainly portrays Gulen as an American puppet, when addressing a Western audience he shows Gulen as an Islamic danger to the West.

This paper shows that Hikmet Cetinkaya is not alone in these defamation ‘campaigns,’ there is a wide group of people who act strategically when defaming Fethullah Gulen and the Gulen Movement.

Both in data collection and the discussion of the subject, I use the term ‘defamation’ as the act of defaming; false or unjustified injury of the good reputation of another, as by slander or libel (dictionary.com, 2010).

Defamation of Gulen in English:

Although, there are exceptions, in the English versions, in brief, Gulen is portrayed as an Islamic danger to the Western world who is trying to establish an Islamic caliphate by using religiously-sanctioned dissimulation (taqiyya) as his main strategy. According to these articles Gulen is anti-Western, anti-Semitic. Most of these articles in this category argue that while Gulen is promoting tolerance, understanding, and interfaith dialogue, in reality, he is establishing his caliphate secretly.

There are several themes which are used systematically over and over in these English versions of defaming articles, including the Trojan Horse; the guise of moderate Islam and interfaith dialogue; similarity to Khomeini; overthrowing the Turkish secular government and establishing an Islamic state; resurrection of a New Ottoman Empire, and universal caliphate; infiltration into the United States; and recently, training Islamist militia in the United States. While most of these defamatory articles cover almost identical themes, and often refer to each other, one or more themes are also selected and underlined in each article.

In the sections below, a few leading authors and their articles are presented for each theme, for the complete list of the articles and themes see Appendix.

Islam’s Trojan Horse: Moderate Islam as Taqiyya

One of the earliest defamatory articles was written by Paul Stenhouse at Quadrant. On the establishment of the Fethullah Gülen Chair of Islamic Studies and Interfaith Dialogue, within the Centre of Inter-Religious Dialogue at the Fitzroy campus of the Australian Catholic University in Melbourne, Stenhouse (2007) raised questions about Gulen, and implied that the Gulen Movement is a ‘group that is ex professo dedicated to promoting an Islamist ideology.’ As can be understood clearly from his title of the article, “Islam's Trojan Horse[1]? Turkish Nationalism and the Nakshibendi Sufi Order,” he asserts that despite the fact that the Gulen Movement is promoting tolerance and interfaith dialogue, in reality it has a hidden Islamist agenda.

Articles which insist that Gulen has a hidden agenda and uses moderate Islam as a disguise very often refer to a doctored video recording of Gulen[2]. These articles claim that Gulen justifies this disguise by taqiyya (religiously-sanctioned dissimulation), and is secretly infiltrating Western society (Fitzgerald, 2008; Rubin, 2008; Sharon-Krespin, 2009; Stenhouse, 2007; Mitzell, The Rise of a New Ottoman Empire: The Trap of Interfaith Dialogue, 2008). These articles also commonly refer to the Gulen Movement as a “secret cult” rather than a social movement.

America’s Khomeini: Same Evil Different Beard

Michael Rubin is a leading figure in the production of defamatory articles. In an earlier article at National Review Online titled “Turkey’s Turning Point,” Rubin (2008) states that Gulen eventually will establish an Islamic state in Turkey, just like Khomeini did in Iran.

“As Khomeini consciously drew parallels between himself and Twelver Shiism’s Hidden Imam, Gülen will remain quiet as his supporters paint his return as evidence that the caliphate formally dissolved by Atatürk in 1924 has been restored.”

In a recent article, Rubin (2010) repeats his claims and defines Gulen as “a cult leader, and the closest thing Turkey has to Khomeini-in-exile.” But this time, he takes it to a further stage and asserts that Gulen is “an Islamist cult leader maintaining a compound staffed and secured by machine-gun-wielding thugs in the mountains of Pennsylvania.”

Very similar to Rubin, Fitzgerald (2008) also compares Gulen to Ayatollah Khomeini, and warns the Western world, especially the United States for hosting these “moderate Islamists.” According to Fitzgerald, Gulen is more dangerous than Khomeini, because he is ‘cunning, clever, and very, very sinister.’ He states that Turkey is already taken by Fethullah Gulen, and he has no fear to go back to Turkey, yet Gulen chooses to stay in the United States for his bigger plans:

“Now that Turkey is going just as Fethullah Gulen wished, you may ask why he doesn't fly home to a hero's welcome. And the answer is that he now has other, and bigger, fish to fry. He has the entire Western world to help conquer from within (Fitzgerald, 2008).”

Overthrowing Turkish Secular Government and Establishing an Islamic State

This theme has been covered by almost all of the defamatory articles in English. Gulen is accused first of trying to overthrow the existing secular state in Turkey and establish an Islamic state, later spread all over the world.

Rachel Sharon-Krespin’s (Sharon-Krespin, 2009) article titled “Fethullah Gulen’s Grand Ambition: Turkey’s Islamist Danger” holds a unique place not only in this category but overall in defamatory English articles. Sharon-Krespin’s article was written carefully as if it is an academic paper and was published by Middle East Quarterly. While this article seems to analyze Fethullah Gulen and the Gulen Movement with data and references it consciously manipulates data and systematically defames Gulen[3]. Another importance of this article is that it has been used by other defamatory English articles as a main source.

Sharon-Krespin(2009) states:
“Today, despite the rhetoric of European Union accession, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has turned Turkey away from Europe and toward Russia and Iran and reoriented Turkish policy in the Middle East away from sympathy toward Israel and much more toward friendship with Hamas, Hezbollah, and Syria. Anti-American, anti-Christian, and anti-Semitic sentiments have increased. Behind Turkey's transformation has been not only the impressive AKP (Adelet ve Kalkinma Partisi- Justice and Development Party) political machine but also a shadowy Islamist sect led by the mysterious hocaefendi (master lord) Fethullah Gülen; the sect often bills itself as a proponent of tolerance and dialogue but works toward purposes quite the opposite. Today, Gülen and his backers (Fethullahcılar, Fethullahists) not only seek to influence government but also to become the government.”
Gurdogan (2010) presents the Gulen Movement as a ‘danger spreading from Turkey to the world.’ He strongly emphasizes that Gulen Movement is a ‘secret cult’ which is taking over the Turkish government slowly in partnership with the current governing party AKP. He states:

“…this cult [Gulen Movement] ensures that those members who join them end up pledging their allegiance while they are at young ages, paving the way for them to get a proper education and prepare them so they can get any position at government agencies. With this method, they avoid a direct conflict and argument between the state and themselves, and simultaneously place cult members into the various government agencies, also known as Trojan horses, and have them act completely in the interest of the cult in order to help “capture” the agencies they are working inside of.”

Resurrection of New Ottoman Empire, and Universal Caliphate

The theme of a resurrection of the Ottoman Empire or establishing a new Ottoman Empire and universal caliphate is also covered by many defamatory English articles. However, Aland Mitzell and Paul Williams[4] are the leading figures in this theme.

Mitzell has written several articles related to Gulen and the Gulen Movement, and in all these articles he defames Gulen. In one of his early articles titled “The Rise of a New Ottoman Empire: The Trap of Interfaith Dialogue”, he writes:

“Gulen believes that since the Ottoman Empire ruled the world for many centuries with peace, he wants to bring it back again. By creating big lobbies, Gulen moves toward his ultimate goal of dictating American and Western social, political, and economic policies. He has recruited thousands of teachers and millions of students while raising billions of dollars in economic support” (Mitzell, 2008).

In another article, Mitzell (2010) repeats his claims:
“…today, the Ottoman Empire is back. Now the Ottoman proponents--like Fethullah Gülen and his followers-- want to reverse everything Ataturk did. A variety of Islamic groups have tried various platforms to impose their power over people, but today the twenty-first century tactic of raising up leaders with a radical agenda of reinstating the Turkish Ottoman’s core of Islam under the guise of an educational system is regressing the country toward the pre-republic days.”
Despite his other accusations, Williams also argues that in his schools, Gulen is raising a new generation to restore the Ottoman Empire. Williams (2010):

“The most dangerous Islamist in the world is neither Afghani nor Arab. He comes from neither Sudan nor Somalia. And he resides in neither the mountains of Pakistan nor the deserts of the Palestinian territories. This individual has toppled the secular government of Turkey and established madrassahs throughout the world. His schools indoctrinate children in the tenets of radical Islam and prepare adolescents for the Islamization of the world…Dozens of his universities, including the Faith University in Istanbul, train young men to become lawyers, accountants, and political leaders so that they can take an active part in the restoration of the Ottoman Empire and the Islamization of the Western World.”

In the same article, Williams (2010) claims that Gulen ‘has amassed a fortune – over $30 billion – for the creation of a universal caliphate.’

David Goldman (2010) joins Mitzell and Williams and claims that Gulen’s vision of moderate Islam is ‘magical, a mystic's vision of Ottoman restoration and a pan-Turkic caliphate.’ He also asserts that Gulen ‘is a shaman, a relic of pre-history preserved in the cultural amber of eastern Anatolia,’ ‘who inhabits the magical world of jinns and sorcery and sees science as a powerful form of magic of which Turks should avail themselves to enhance their power’ (Goldman, 2010).

Infiltration into the United States

A wide range of articles and internet comments, even blogs and websites have been dedicated to this theme: that Fethullah Gulen is infiltrating the United States through charter schools, and he is pursuing Turkish religious political indoctrination in publicly financed education (Schwartz, 2010; Rodgers, 2010).

One of the very first articles was written by Guy Rodgers on Act for America website in early 2010. In this article, Rodgers claims that Fethullah Gulen, a dangerous Islamist leader, is Islamizing the United States under the guise of charter schools. He even claims that the Department of Homeland Security tried to deport him but could not succeed. According to Rodgers, Fethullah Gulen Community runs over 90 public schools in at least 20 states. These schools are disguised as science academies (Schwartz, 2010) and performing well academically but in fact ‘doing an excellent job of heeding Gulen’s exhortation and masking their true intent (Rodgers, 2010).’

Rodgers (2010) states:
“In building a sophisticated and well-funded worldwide network, including a substantial presence here in the U.S., Fethullah Gulen is following in the footsteps and exhortations of Mohammed, who counseled patience and deception as a means of overcoming the infidel when the power of the infidel was greater than the power of the umma, the Muslim community. In a very real sense this is as or more sinister than the frontal assault strategy of Islamist organizations such as al Qaeda and Hamas, because, like the proverbial “frog in the kettle,” we are incrementally “boiled alive” without realizing it. The FGC charter schools in America may outwardly appear innocuous, but they are serving a greater and long-range objective of Fethullah Gulen.”
Training an Islamist Militia in the United States

Although it is not as common as other themes, the theme of training Islamist militia in the United States has also been addressed by several authors and repeated by several blogs and websites.

Paul Williams and Roberto Santiago are the first authors who claim that Gulen is training militias in a compound in Pennsylvania. Williams wrote:
“Christian militias have been raided in Michigan and Ohio, their members rounded up and tossed in prison and their caches of weapons confiscated. But a well-armed Muslim militia – comprised not of American citizens but foreign militants – operates under the noses of federal and state law enforcement officials. If you don't it, pay a visit to Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, in the heart of the Pocono Mountains (Williams, 2010).”
Williams states that Fethullah Gulen also ‘allegedly operates compounds to train jihadis in the tactics of guerilla warfare’ (Williams, 2010). In another blog post[S1] , he states:
“…powerful Turkish pasha Fethullah Gulen has established a 45 acre mountain fortress. The fortress remains protected by 100 Turkish guards and a sentry post. Local residents have complained of automatic gunfire coming from the complex and of a low flying helicopter that surveys the area for would-be intruders (Williams, 2010).”
Paul Williams: A Defamation Machine

Paul Williams is an interesting figure in this defamation campaign; he is ubiquitous and produces defamatory articles frequently. He emerged on the scene in early 2010, but has already written more defamatory articles in English than anybody else. He is inconsistent in his writings and accuses Gulen of almost everything imaginable. It requires a separate article to examine only Williams himself.

As presented above, Williams (2010) claims that Gulen trains militia with guns in his compound in Pennsylvania and lives in a fortress protected by armed guards and helicopters. According to him, Gulen works with the CIA, and the CIA uses Gulen. He claims that Gulen has money and that this money for his projects comes from drug trafficking. On the other hand, in William’s world Gulen is also secretly trying to establish a caliphate and resurrect the Ottoman Empire. In one of his article, Williams states:

“These guys use fully automatic weapons – AK-47s – for target practice,” one local businessman says. “We called the FBI but nothing has been done to stop them.” The Muslims have been here for years,” another resident says. “They’ve been engaged in training for guerilla warfare.” The Muslims in question are Turks who occupy a 45-acre compound that is owned and operated by Fethullah Gulen (Williams, 2010).”

In another one, Williams states:
“He [Gulen] also allegedly operates compounds to train jihadis in the tactics of guerilla warfare. This individual has amassed a fortune – – over $30 billion – – for the creation of a universal caliphate. The Saylorsburg property consists of a massive chalet surrounded by numerous outbuildings, including recreational centers, dormitories, cabins for visiting foreign dignitaries, a helicopter pad, and firing ranges. Neighbors complain of the incessant sounds of gunfire – – including the rat-tat-tat of fully automatic weapons – – coming from the compound and the low flying helicopter that circles the area in search of all intruders. The FBI has been called to the scene, the neighbors say, but no action has been taken to end the illegal activity. Sentries stand guard at the gates to the estate to turn away all curiosity seekers (Williams, 2010).
He is full of self-contradiction. In some of these articles, he asserts that Gulen is backed and used by the CIA, and that Gulen’s money comes from drug trafficking operations by the CIA (Williams, 2010):

“During the Clinton administration, the CIA began to fund Gulen and his movement with millions derived from drug trafficking – including the revenues amassed by Turkish underworld figures (bubas) from the flow of heroin from Afghanistan through northern Iran to Turkey.

With the money, Gulen established radical madrassahs (Islamic schools) and cemaats (Muslim communities) throughout the Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and newly-formed Russian republics in order to gain control of the vast oil and natural gas reserves of these developing countries.

The movement grew to attract more than six million Muslim adherents, who supported Gulen’s attempt to restore the Ottoman Empire and to establish a universal caliphate.”

Defamation of Gulen in Turkish:

Unlike the English versions of defamatory articles, in Turkish versions, Gulen is portrayed as an American/Zionist puppet who is being used by westerners to destroy Turkey and Islam, and exploit Muslim populations. Some of these articles even argue that Gulen is not Muslim, and works for the papacy. Though there are articles which claim that Gulen is trying to establish an Islamic state in the secular Turkish Republic, especially earlier ones, the majority of the writings run in the opposite direction.

Similar to the English versions, Turkish versions also present Gulen in several themes. Major themes that are used in these Turkish versions are: American puppet; serving the Vatican through interfaith dialogue; Zionist connections; damaging Islam.

American Puppet: Big Middle East Project

The most frequent theme is that Gulen is being used by America. While some articles claim that Gulen directly works for the CIA or the American paramilitary organization ‘Super NATO’, others claim that America is trying to develop an Islam which will not create any resistance to American exploitation in the Muslim world, and Gulen is working for the creation of that American version of Islam which is ‘moderate Islam.’

In the first group, Dogu Perincek and the magazine he serves as the editor-in-chief are the leading figures to claim that Gulen is a CIA agent and working with ‘Super NATO (Perincek, 2007; Perincek, 1996).’ In this theme America has established paramilitary organizations in most of the NATO member countries, this organization, known as ‘Super NATO’ or Gladio, is acting behind the scenes to protect American interests in NATO member countries. Gladio is also behind most of the assassinations, murders, and coup d’états (Perincek, 2007).

Authors who claim that Gulen is working for America claim that America’s new project for the Middle East and Central Asia is called ‘Buyuk Ortadogu Projesi (BOP) (translated as Big Middle East Project). By means of this project America is trying to redesign the Middle East, including some changes in the borders of the countries. The authors allege that Fethullah Gulen and Turkish Prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan are co-presidents, but Fethullah Gulen is the most effective leader of this BOP project. Since Turkey’s entrance to NATO, this ‘Super NATO’ is supposedly ruling the country and it is behind every operation. Even today’s Ergenekon[5] case is explained as a ‘Super NATO’ operation and Gulen is painted as an active part of this operation.(Yanardag, 2007; Yanardag, 2006; Veren, 2007; Sezgin, Zaman'cilar Ehli Kitap midir?, 2005) (Perincek, 2007; Perincek, 1996; Koc E. , 2006; Koc E. , 2006; Deniz, 2007; Kizilkan, 2008) (see Appendix for the full list of the references).

“Super NATO told to Tayyip Erdogan that it is going make Diyarbakir center of the second Israel which is going to be established in Northern Iraq. Erdogan’s co-presidency for the Big Middle East Project is duty given in the Super NATO, and in the deep state. The leader of this deep state is Fethullah; Tayyip; and the Fethullahist gang who are positioned in the police system are the members of this deep state” (page 3) (Perincek, 2007)

In addition to newspaper and magazine articles, several books have been published on this theme. Himet Cetinkaya, Merdan Yanardag and Ergun Poyraz are leading authors. In this theme, Hikmet Cetinkaya wrote “Fethullah Gulen’s 40 year Adventure-1 and 2” (Cetinkaya H. , 2004; Cetinkaya H. , 2005); “Fethullah Gulen, USA and AKP” (Cetinkaya H. , Fethullah Gülen ABD ve AKP, 2007); “Geese of Religion Baron” (Cetinkaya H. , Din Baron'un Kazlari, 2006); “Fethullahist Gladio” (Cetinkaya H. , Fethullahçı Gladyo, 2008); “American Harmonica Players” (Cetinkaya H. , Amerikan Mızıkacıları, 2009); “Soros’ Children” (Cetinkaya H. , 2008).

Ergun Poyraz published: “Imam in America” (Poyraz, Amerika'daki İmam, 2009); “Those who do Wudu (ablution) with Blood” (Poyraz, 2007); “Real Face of Fethullah” (Poyraz, 2000); “From Said-I Nursi to Demirel and Ecevit: Fethullah’s Real Face” (Poyraz, 2000).

Merdan Yanardag also published several books in this regard: “How Turkey is Besieged: Backstage in the Fethullah Gulen Movement” (Yanardag, 2006); “AKP as a US Project” (Yanardag, 2007) (see Appendix for the full list of the books).

Some even claim that CIA agents are working in Gulen Schools as English teachers; they work especially in schools in Central Asian countries (Acik Istihbarat, 2010). Duyar (1998) alleges that America provided American passports to more than 1000 Turkish teachers who are working at Gulen schools, and that these are not even regular passports, these were passports only given to American diplomats (official passports).

Moderate Islam: the Pope’s Secret Cardinal

The second most common theme in Turkish versions of defamatory articles is that Gulen works for the Pope, either as a secret cardinal, or he has a secret pact with the Pope. With his interfaith activities and ‘moderate Islam’, Gulen is alleged to be trying to destroy Islam and Christianize Muslims (Yilan, 2006; Bala, 2006).

Aziz Karaca and Emin Koc from Yeni Mesaj newspaper are the leading authors who are committed to this theme. They have written numerous newspaper articles arguing that Gulen works for the Vatican to destroy Islam. According to this theme, Gulen’s meeting with Pope John Paul II in 1998 is official proof of this connection. Poyraz (2000) also claims that this meeting was set up by the CIA.

Karaca (2006) states in his article titled “Curse to those who opened this way”:
“The children of the Muslim Turkish Nation, who have carried the flag of Islam for a thousand years, are moving to trinity and polytheism [Christianity]…Polytheist, Crusader and Zionist unions who could not defeat this nation [Muslim Turkish Nation] in battle are working to defeat this nation from the inside and make them their tool by destroying their faith. …Government’s love of the EU, and the dialogue team [the Gulen Movement] that is part of the Vatican council’s mission have prepared everything for missionaries and with their treasonous plans, they push our people into the missionaries’ arms and have made our people an open market for them.”
In his book “Vatican and the Knights Templar” Aytunc Altindal claims that in the1990’s Pope John Paul II reactivated the ‘dialogue project’ of Vatican. After discussing how Gulen’s dialogue activities in Turkey and Vatican’s dialogue projects match, he states:

“On February 21, 1998, Pope John Paul II appointed 20 new cardinals to Vatican Senate… [In addition to these 20 cardinals] Pope John Paul II also used his right to appoint ‘in picture’ (secret cardinal), and appointed two secret cardinals. This right has not been used by any pope for more than a hundred years…. Only seven people know the identities of these two cardinals… if they reveal their identities they will be killed in their countries… It is guessed that one of these ‘in picture’ cardinals (who belong to other religions and hide their identities) is a religious leader in China… May the other one be a king/leader or a religious leader in the Muslim world?” (Page 115-6-7) (Altindal, 2004)

Zionist connections

Similar to the American connection, in this theme, Gulen is portrayed as a Zionist comprador who works with MOSSAD and Israel. While some articles show Gulen as a crypto-Jew (Jewish descendants who are hiding their identities) along with the leading members of the AKP government, others claim Gulen only works for Zionist groups (Poyraz, 2000; Eraydin, 2007; Biskin, 2007; Sezgin, 2007).

In 2007, Ergun Poyraz wrote a series called Moses’ Children. In these books he ‘proves’ that President Abdullah Gul, prime minister Tayyip Erdogan, AKP’s leading figure Bulent Arinc, and Gulen are the descendants of Jews. These books are titled as Moses’ AKP, Moses’ Gul, Moses’ Children Tayyip and Emine[6], etc. (Poyraz, 2007; Poyraz, 2007; Poyraz, 2007; Poyraz, 2007).

In his discussion of the ADL (Anti Defamation League), Riza Zelyut (2007) describes the ADL as a Jewish organization that protects and promotes Gulen. He also claims that the ADL arranged Gulen’s meeting with Pope John Paul II and that Gulen’s book on Islam was distributed by the ADL. In his article titled “Gulen, RTE (Recep Tayyip Erdogan) and their Cohort are ADL Servants” Emin Koc (2005) advances the same arguments and claims that the ADL distributed Fethullah Gulen’s book “Love and Tolerance” all over the world. Some go further and claim that Bnai-Brith gives away all Gulen’s books for free (Acik Istihbarat).

Milli Cozum’s Reseach Team prepared a ‘Gulen File” and in this file they allege similarities between the Gulen Movement and the Unification Church[7], and claim that both groups are organized by a Zionist organization: CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies) (Milli Gorus Research Team, 2004).

Destroying Islam: Gulen is not a Muslim

Although not frequent as other themes, but enough to be included here as a separate theme, in Turkish defamatory articles, Gulen is portrayed as not being a Muslim but a hypocrite who is destroying and changing Islam from inside (Poyraz, 2000; Koc E. , 2006).

In accordance with the other themes, in some articles Gulen is shown as a crypto-Jew, or an ‘in picture’ secret cardinal of the Pope who corrupts Islam and influences the masses. In his new book “Imam in America,” Poyraz (2009) claims that Gulen’s knowledge of Islam is limited and poor. According to Poyraz, Gulen does not even know basic things such as the essentials of salah (prayer), and he does not have any knowledge about the Islamic madhabs (schools of jurisprudence) and their imams. Senoglu and Bolat (2007) imply that Fethullah Gulen gave a fatwa (ruling) that the name of the Prophet Muhammed be removed from the Shahada[8].

In his book titled “Fethullah Musluman mi?” (translated as ‘Is Fethullah Muslim?’), Semih Tufan Gulaltay claims that Fethullah Gulen is Bahai, and he presents “evidence” for his claim (Gulaltay).

In addition to the above themes, some other articles claim that Gulen works with the Kurdish separatist group -- the PKK -- and its leader Abdullah Ocalan (Akgul, 2009; Ekmekci, 2008; Gozubuyuk, 2009).

Data and Coding:

In order to demonstrate strategic defamation, I defined two different Gulen: Gulen1 and Gulen2 and coded articles accordingly.

Gulen1: American/Zionist/Vatican agent

Gulen2: Islamist/Khomeini/New Ottoman/Caliphate

Dataset includes 436 cases in both English and Turkish. These cases include books, journals, newspaper and magazine articles, weblog and website postings. While Turkish versions appear more as printed material such as books, magazines, and newspapers, English versions mostly appear online, especially in weblogs.

English versions in particular use very similar tactics. First a defamatory article appears on a weblog, and then it spreads all over. Similar weblogs post the article and increase the circulation on the web. After a while the same article reappears on the web as if it is a new one. Some websites even give Google advertisements on words “Gulen”, and “Gulen Movement” searches for these defaming articles, such as Middle East Forum.

In coding, I only selected books/articles/news which try to show Gulen in either picture. In other words, articles that are criticizing Gulen or the Movement in a proper way are not included in the data set.

For instance, Karaca’s (2005) article titled “Diyalog meyveleri zehirliyor” translated as “The Fruits of Dialogue are Poisonous” is critical of Gulen, and especially the dialogue activities of the Gulen Movement. However, in this article, Karaca states his own opinions, and implies “dialogue activities are harming Muslim Turkish youth.” Therefore, this article is not included in the dataset.

On the other hand, in his article titled “Diyaloga karşıyız, çünkü…” translated as “We are against dialogue because…” Karaca (2005) not only criticizes the dialogue activities of Gulen, he implies that Gulen is a part of the Vatican’s dialogue project (he defines this project as a project that is developed by the Vatican to Christianize Muslims through dialogue activities). Therefore, this article is included in the dataset.

If an article includes both pictures of defamation, it is included twice and coded for each picture. For instance, in an article titled “Gulen Movement Paves Way For New Islamic World Order, Billions Pour Into Gulen’s Coffers From Drug Trade,” Paul Williams says:
“Gulen is a Turk, who is intent upon the establishment of a universal caliphate, and a militant Islamist who seeks to indoctrinate youth in the political teachings of the Qu’ran.”
Due to the above description, the article is coded as Gulen2.

However, in the same article he also claims that:
“The CIA has allowed the flow of heroin from Afghanistan into Europe and the United States in order to fund the Gulen movement.”
Because of this claim, the same article is also coded as Gulen1.

Especially in the English versions of these articles, there is quite a large amount of reposting the same article on different weblogs. In data coding, if the same article is posted as exactly the same several times on different weblogs, only the original article is included in the dataset. However, if an article posted on different weblogs with some additional comments, each article is included in the dataset and coded accordingly.


[1] The term “Trojan Horse” has been used by almost all of the groups that are strategically trying to defame Gulen. It appears both in English and Turkish versions of the defamation articles. While Gulen is accused of being Islam’s Trojan Horse in the Western World/Christianity, in Turkish versions, he is accused of being West’s/Pope’s Trojan Horse in Muslim World.

[2] See Abdullah Ademoglu’s (2010) “Defamation of Gulen as a Smoke Screen” article for more information on these fabricated records.

[3] Sharon-Krespin misquotes information from an article which I coauthored. I have written a whole article addressing manipulations, miscalculations, and other problems in Sharon-Krespin article. For more information see “Fethullah Gülen's Grand Ambition”: A Biased, Selective, Misleading, Misrepresentative and Miscalculated Article (Koc D., 2010).

[4] Paul Williams is an interesting figure in this defamation campaign, he is all over. For more information see section Paul Williams: A Defamation Machine.

[5] Ergenekon is the name given to an alleged clandestine, ultra-nationalist organization in Turkey with ties to members of the country's military and security forces. Many security and military personnel including retired generals have been arrested and it is an ongoing investigation. For more information see (Bozkurt, 2010; Today's Zaman, 2009)

[6] Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s wife Emine Erdogan.

[7] Known as also Moon Order.

[8] The Shahada is the Muslim declaration of belief in the oneness of Allah and acceptance of Muhammad as God's prophet. It reads as “There is no god but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God.”

(*) Paper presented at The International Conference, The Gulen Movement: Paradigms, Projects, and Aspirations, which took place at the University of Chicago, on November 11-13, 2010.

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