Merve Büşra Öztürk
The possibility of rivalry or conflict between ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and Hizmet (the Gülen movement, which consists of followers of Turkish scholar Fethullah Gülen’s ideas), came to the agenda once again when individuals known to be Gülen followers took the side of the judiciary in a debate between the government and the judiciary after it summoned National Intelligence Organization (MİT) officials to testify in connection with acts of terrorism.
Circles close to the government have argued that the recent move by the prosecutor who summoned the MİT undersecretary and several other MİT officials to hear their testimony is clearly an attack on the government’s terrorism policies as the MİT officials who were summoned were all tasked by the prime minister to negotiate with terrorists. On the other hand, many Gülen supporters argue that the prosecutor’s only intention is to find out whether there are some agents in MİT that exceeded the limits of the negotiation.
Bugün’s Ahmet Taşgetiren says claims over a covert fight between the Gülen movement and the government indicate nothing but an attempt to divide Muslims by turning them against each other. “This will remain a vain attempt as long as we continue to live in the same land and send our children to Gülen schools and stay in Gülen houses, and more importantly, as long as we are Muslim, because Muslims do not see each other as opponents just because of personal interests or political views,” says Taşgetiren, quoting parts of an article by Milliyet’s Hasan Cemal.
“I am not an expert on Gülen ideology, but I know the Gülen movement from football. Do you know how? Because whenever I go abroad to watch an important football match and I have to find a place to stay, I call one of my friends who support Gülen to arrange a place for me, and they always manage to organize a home for me every time I call. And these Gülen supporter friends of mine are decent people who I can actually have a good talk with. I met with Gülen in the 1990s and had the chance to listen to some of his speeches. He mostly talks about tolerance towards other people and emphasizes reconciliation within society. I know the newspaper that is known to be affiliated with the Gülen movement. Those people working for the newspaper are right-minded, serious journalists who follow the public agenda meticulously. Gülen followers are in the business world and in education. And I am sure there are some followers who work in the judiciary and in the police. We all know they have played a considerable role in exposing the Sledgehammer plan and the coup plan of Ergenekon. In the same vein, they have played a significant role in the latest crisis concerning MİT. Considering the things I have said about this movement, does it seem like a group or organization that has a political aim or -- specifically in the MİT case -- can it really be attempting to make a judicial coup or something like this? I think this scenario is only an exaggeration or a fear that many leftists have in this country. It smells too much like a conspiracy,” Cemal says.
Arguing that it is hard to name one particular strategy of the Gülen movement in terms of politics and that it is certainly impossible to say the police and the judiciary acted on Gülen followers’ influence, Radikal’s Oral Çalışlar recalls how Gülen made a speech a couple of months ago in which he argued there are some rights that Turkey owes to Kurds and one of them is to allow education to be taught in Kurdish in its predominantly Kurdish regions. He says that Gülen and many intellectuals known to be supporters of Gülen’s ideology support the idea that terrorism in Turkey can only be solved through dialogue and mutual understanding. However, Çalışlar also points out that a TV channel owned by the Gülen movement covertly supported the government’s military operations against terrorists, which killed many of them, and asks how we can say that this movement has a certain political motive or goal.
Published on Today's Zaman, 17 February 2012, Friday