November 10, 2014

The gravest-ever smear

Ekrem Dumanlı

The erstwhile political Islamists -- who would frequently utter the slogan "Every day is Ashura and everywhere is Karbala," referring to the tragic incident in Islamic history when the Prophet Muhammad's grandsons, Hasan and Husain, as well as those who accompanied them, were ambushed and slaughtered near Karbala in Iraq -- apparently stick today to the formula "Every day is a lie and everywhere is a smear."

Day in, day out the pro-government media outlets -- as well as certain public institutions -- disseminate a new claim rife with smear and slander. Every day they devise conspiracies against the Hizmet movement based on some forged documents or lies. How can people promote these preposterous claims in their capacity as public officials? Can a person still claim to be a Muslim even after s/he has turned into a smear machine? May God protect them from such a terrible end!

They set one trap after another. They tried to plant guns in the houses of members of the Hizmet movement and arrange police raids on those houses, with the intention of portraying the Hizmet movement as an armed organization. But they failed and will fail. Yet they haven't given up investing their hopes in new dirty scenarios, with their despotic arrogance. They are intent on forging documents or arranging false witnesses to lend support to their shady plots.

The latest incarnation of these plots is trying to eke out a link between the Hizmet movement and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). This version is actually proof of the desperation of the smear-mongers. Those who have developed and maintained good relations with the PKK for many years, making promises they cannot keep and conducting negotiations with the outlawed organization as if it represented the entire Kurdish community, seem to have panicked, as they are failing to keep their promises and things are starting to move out of their hands.

Those who have painted a rosy future for the Kurds just to gain time until the elections are safely held, it seems, are after another "action plan" with the intention of killing many birds with one stone. Thus, they will not only portray the Hizmet movement as cooperating with the PKK to stigmatize the former, but also shift the blame for many unsolved murders onto this imaginary cooperation. They will use their salaried agents who have penetrated the PKK, as well as the recruits they have taken hostage, to hurl charges on the Hizmet movement. But there are several points they fail to notice. The Hizmet movement has never had and never will have any link with an outlawed, violent or illegitimate organization or network. Certain fair-minded people who have been part of this odious plot but who started to feel uneasy about the slander mechanism know who masterminded the plot, who played which roles and who was hired, and they are waiting for the right time to disclose this information. Their consciences will not permit them to be part of this scandalous slander by the evil network. The slanderers are so enraptured with their plans that they are virtually blinded. They forget the sad fact that they will eventually be brought to court and held to account for their unlawful deeds -- despite the current laws that protect unlawfulness. In this country, those who step out of the legal boundaries cannot have good sleep, as they are doomed to be accountable for their unlawful deeds in the morning.

The most brazen spin doctor has recently triggered the smear campaign. Those who lend support to this campaign will just add to their crimes. Those who mastermind this dirty, profligate propaganda are all known. It is no coincidence that those who report such lies and smears to leading public institutions, particularly the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), are the same as those who conduct negotiations with terrorist organizations. This does not apply only to the PKK. We are talking about those who made the al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Hizbullah and Tawhid-Salam troubles for Turkey. Isn't it significant that the same miserable mentality is now using public resources to fabricate slanders about a century-old movement?

The Hizmet movement and Fethullah Gülen's position against terrorism is well-known and has been tested many times in the past. This position is quite clear and noble: Terror -- regardless of its ethnic or religious motivations -- is a crime against humanity. At a time when political Islamists have failed to condemn al-Qaeda, Mr. Gülen uttered: "No terrorist can be a Muslim, and no true Muslim can be a terrorist," asserting that a person who commits terrorist acts can no longer be a Muslim. Following the emergence of ISIL, political Islamists still failed to denounce their autrocities, while Gülen came up with a clear stance, chastizing them. Given this background, will a smear campaign against the Hizmet movement be successful?

The proponents of black propaganda persistently use two channels. The first one is a set of media organizations that are ready to parrot whatever is thrown at them. The second one is the National Intelligence Organization (MİT), which has been kept immune from prosecution even for their unlawful transactions, in clear breach of the Constitution. Never before had the intelligence agency been used so aggressively to promote the interests of a specific party and specific people. Its constant glorification by certain groups adds credence to this claim.

We should never forget that the National Police Department went through an in-depth examination in the wake of the Susurluk accident -- which exposed links between state officials, politicians and organized crime in Turkey. Similarly, the TSK faced a similar examination in the wake of the court case against Ergenekon -- a clandestine organization nested within the state trying to overthrow or manipulate the democratically elected government -- and that powerful institution was severely tested. MİT was, however, never taken into the spotlight, and its activities were never tested against the law. Ten years ago, no one would have expected that the coup perpetrators within the TSK would be brought to court, especially given the fact that they had redesigned society, the media and the political establishment during the post-modern coup of Feb. 28, 1997 -- when the Turkish military forced the coalition government led by the now-defunct conservative Welfare Party (RP) out of power, citing an alleged rise in religious fundamentalism in the country. If MİT fails to learn the lessons from these processes, but indulge in unlawful affairs, this will hurt both itself and the state. In no democratic state guided by the rule of law can the intelligence organization be used in shady plots forever. It will eventually be held accountable for its unlawful transactions.

If the intention is to find those who have links with terrorist organizations, they don't have to look for them among innocent people. Whoever "negotiated with terrorists" and gave them concessions one after another, and is now being crushed under the weight of unfulfilled promises to that terrorist organization, are those who are "linked to the terrorist organization." All other claims amount to slander, treachery and hypocrisy, and time will certainly bring them to court.

Is it worth it, for God's sake?

The articles appearing in the international media about Turkey in recent weeks have been so depressing. The official announcement of the money spent for the construction of the new presidential palace, Ak Saray (White Palace), created much disappointment across the country. It is a gigantic palace, with 1,000 rooms, and it is like a slum house, because it was made in breach of court orders. Although it was initially planned as the headquarters of the Prime Ministry, it was renamed to be the presidential palace after Recep Tayyip Erdoğan became president. This building has no counterpart around the world in many respects. It provokes feelings of anger or resentment in many because it symbolizes pomp, luxury and extravagance. And in this process, Turkey's image is tainted.

Dozens of articles have been written about Ak Saray in the US press. Not only in British or German newspapers, but also the media outlets of Muslim countries published critical or even sardonic commentaries about our "palace." Even in Saudi Arabia, whose rulers have been criticized for their luxury lifestyles, Ak Saray has been harshly criticized. Al Arabiya likened it to Nicolae Ceaucescu or Adolf Hitler's extremely luxurious palaces. It appears the Western press' likening of it to Ceaucescu's palace has been adopted by the Muslim world as well.

Obviously, the palace has also created unease among some members of the party and the government. This is visible in the remarks about wastefulness. Such pomp or luxury can hardly be reconciled with Islamic principles. Thus, it is clear that things that focus on worldly pleasure are an affront both to this country and Islam's image.

'The Converging Hearts'

"Birleşen Gönüller" (The Converging Hearts) is a spectacular film based on real-life stories. As you watch it, you feel sad and joyful at times. It is a tear-jerker in its depiction of heroic people who go abroad and experience separation from their homeland, and it is at the same time a magnificent account of their perseverance in the face of adversity.

The story is perfect, and the cast and shots are successful. I had an opportunity to watch it during my busy schedule. I find it significant in many respects. The fact that such a qualify film can be shot amid so much turmoil deserves applause. And we know that when the dust settles down, the love these people feel for humankind will be visible in crystal clarity. Then, these true stories will be understood more fully. Some people will certainly be ashamed. Those who are dragged away by the winds of time will not be reprimanded, and everyone will realize that pressure cannot dominate hearts. I would like to thank everyone involved in this project.

Published on Today's Zaman, 10 November 2014, Monday