Gülen movement. Before the book was even published, he was arrested and thrown in jail. What happened to moderate and tolerant Islam in this case?
Mustafa Akyol: First, I have opposed the arrest of Ahmet Şık and similar journalists from the very beginning. I’m so glad that they are free now after being imprisoned for a year. This incident shows that the Turkish legal system is still very authoritarian and illiberal when it comes to freedom of speech.
But, I would not go as far as to say that this illiberal episode in the Turkish legal system is a product of Islam. I don’t think it has any direct connection with the Turkish understanding of Islam. It was not the Islamic law or any Islamic interpretation which led to the arrest of those journalists. It was Turkey's illiberal anti-terrorism laws which define a terrorist organization very vaguely.
These journalists were accused of being in an organization with some radical generals who wanted to conduct a coup. Now, I think that accusation was overblown, but at the end of the day that was the reason they were arrested. Yes, they had criticized the Gülen movement, but I don't think that was the reason they were arrested.
There are other journalists, very secular journalists who have denounced Fethullah Gülen and his movement, defined him as a CIA agent or a secret Christian, all sorts of things, but they have never been imprisoned.
Excerpt from The Washington Times interview with Turkish author Mustafa Akyol. Full text is published on 20 April 2012, Friday