The Radikal daily reported last Sunday that the chief of the Anti-Terrorism Department of the National Police Department had sent a secret directive to 30 provincial police departments ordering them to find out whether the Fethullah Gülen community had an armed force.
It was later reported that it also gave the order for an investigation into whether the community had any connection with the enigmatic political murders of the recent years including Father Andrea Santoro, Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, Turkish-Jewish businessmen Üzeyir Garih, a judge of the State Council and three Christian converts in Malatya.
The next day the Taraf daily published a report under the caption “Witch hunt targets the underage,” saying that the same “secret” document had also ordered the profiling of millions of students who had gone to the training centers, schools and student hostels operated by the Gülen community over the last 10 years. Two days later Taraf carried another story on a special unit called the “Cosmic Work Group” at the National Police Department that had profiled around 1,000 companies, large and small, along with their customers, for “possible connections” to the community.
The reports indicate that the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has on the orders of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan initiated an effort to try and depict the Gülen inspired movement (commonly referred to as Hizmet) as a terrorist organization, and for this purpose has begun a witch hunt on an unprecedented scale. Upon reading the above reports and Erdoğan's threatening remarks soon after to the AKP parliamentary group saying he will settle accounts with those party members who do not raise their voices against the Gülen movement, I concluded that in Turkey's politics we are now faced with a situation that cannot be explained by reason or logic, and beggars belief. The Taraf daily was absolutely right in declaring “The government has gone crazy” in one of its headlines about the witch hunt last week.
Putting aside all the lies, slurs, insults and hate speech of Erdoğan and his clique directed towards the man and the movement he has inspired, let us ask who Fethullah Gülen really is. He is a scholar and preacher who teaches a kind of Islam that supports a secularism that contains freedom of belief for all, democracy, human rights, respect for all lifestyles, identities and ideas, mutual understanding between citizens and denounces violence. As such he is highly unique in the entire Islamic world.
And what is the Hizmet movement that Gülen has inspired? It is a faith-based social movement that encourages through educational activities the raising of a younger generation filled with learning and high morals, contributes through enterprises to the socio-economic development of Turkey, and builds cultural and economic bridges between the country and the world. Why then is the Erdoğan government trying to depict as a terrorist organization a social movement that works for peace at home and in the world, contributes to humanitarian ideals and is truly an Anatolian miracle?
The simple answer is that he is engaged in a futile effort to try to convince the people that the greatest bribery and corruption probe in the history of the country, that implicates some of his ministers and family members, is a fabrication, a conspiracy by the Gülen movement against his government. In this effort the rule of law is turned upside down, an entire community is first declared as criminal and then a witch hunt is conducted to fabricate evidence to prove the case against it. Such a judicial scandal has never been heard of in any more or less civilized society, let alone liberal democracies.
The same politician who has started this crazy witch hunt now comes to the people as a presidential nominee and says he has never polarized the people or discriminated against any group, while promising to continue the witch hunt. He pledges, in clear violation of the Constitution, to continue to be both the prime minister and head of his party at the same time if he is elected president.
I still don't see any reason for pessimism. Turkey is not so primitive a society as to put up with such injustice and evil intent for long.
Published on Sunday's Zaman, 13 July 2014, Sunday