April 6, 2012

Hizmet [Gulen Movement]: A civil society movement with no political ambitions

Today's Zaman

Logo: Journalists and Writers Foundation
The Journalists and Writers Foundation (GYV), whose honorary chairman is well-respected Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, released a statement on its website on Thursday explaining the stance of the Hizmet [service] movement inspired by Gülen as a civilian one with no political ambitions.

The association’s statement comes in response to recent allegations in the Turkish media that the movement is in the midst of a power struggle with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government and that members of the movement are “infiltrating” top state institutions.

“The Hizmet, which is inspired by faith and which strives for a culture of living together within the framework of universal humanitarian values, is a civil society movement consisting of volunteers. The Hizmet is a civilian movement. And as a civilian movement it is not related to or complementary to any official program, politics or agenda. Similarly, this civilian movement is not against any specific political party either. Regarding the Hizmet as the implicit supporter or opponent of a political party is something that is unacceptable according to the basic [principles] of the Hizmet,” the statement said.

The statement defines the approach of the movement to political parties as being based on the principles of democratization, ensuring religious freedoms, achieving respectable international standards -- mainly European Union standards -- supporting the rule of law and working for broader human rights and freedoms. “The parties which work for these goals can be supported just like they were in the past as a civilian duty,” the statement said.

Stating that the movement has also contributed a lot to the improvement of Turkish democracy, the statement added that the movement has especially helped politicians in implementing many EU reforms and addressing the Kurdish issue thanks to its wide influence on society. “However, the Hizmet has in no way a goal to share or hold political power,” the statement said.

The foundation also referred to a recent controversy over media reports based on leaked e-mails from security analysis company Stratfor that said members of his movement were putting pressure on the ruling AK Party in order to control the party. Gülen earlier denied the claims, saying through his lawyer that the allegations are totally groundless.

The GYV statement acknowledged that Turkey has made significant progress under AK Party rule in the past 10 years in the fields of democratization, the rule of law and overcoming the military’s tutelage over politics. “The fundamental expectations the Hizmet, just like all other pro-democracy segments of society, has of the AK Party is to strengthen democratization and to more strictly follow its policy of ending the dark influence of tutelary institutions over politics. The Hizmet does not expect to profit from the AK Party in any way other than these goals, which would benefit all the people of Turkey if realized,” the GYV explained.

The GYV’s statement also denied any rift between the AK Party government and the Hizmet movement as claimed by some media outlets following a crisis involving the National Organization Intelligence (MİT) crisis in February.

The MİT crisis concerns the subpoenaing of MİT head Hakan Fidan and four others by a specially authorized public prosecutor in February overseeing an investigation into the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), which Turkish prosecutors say is a group that controls the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and other affiliated groups. The prosecutor wanted Fidan to testify as part of the case following claims that some MİT staff who infiltrated the KCK collaborated with the organization to commit acts of terrorism.

“Contrary to what is claimed, the Hizmet movement is on no side in this crisis,” said the statement.

Regarding the movement’s stance on the freedom of the press, GYV recalled a recent statement by Gülen who said, “As I expressed earlier, I am in favor of a broader enforcement of freedom of expression and the press.” Gülen added that he advocates broader rights specifically in the arenas of freedom of expression and freedom of the press for journalists, including those who “unjustly” accuse him of conspiring against them.

Published on Today's Zaman, 05 April 2012, Thursday

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