December 17, 2014

Questions and answers in Tahşiye group debate

Bülent Korucu

What are the charges against Ekrem Dumanlı, Hidayet Karaca and other journalists?

a) Seizing the sovereignty of the state:

There is no such crime defined by law; instead, there are descriptions of crimes and offenses committed against the operation of the legislative and executive organs of the state, but use of force or violence must accompany intention for the substantiation of these crimes. It is therefore impossible to be held responsible for this crime with reliance on news reports, columns and TV series.

b) Slander:

Elements of this crime are defined as violations of individual rights and freedoms in criminal law. However, there is not a single reference in Fethullah Gülen's speeches or columns to the names of those he's complaining about. Gülen warns in his speeches that an illegal organization might be created to give the impression that Muslims are being armed. In a sense, Gülen's warnings and the statement of defense by Mehmet Doğan (also known as Molla Muhammad), accused of being a member of the terrorist group Tahşiyeciler, overlap. Gülen's speeches always attract attention in the media. It is also known that Vatan, Hürriyet and Sabah have published the very same news story before. However, prosecutors ignore those columns, which raises questions about bad intentions.

c) Deprivation of liberties:

Arrest warrants by courts cannot be regarded as deprivations of liberties. If the warrant is not proper, however, then it has to be reviewed by appellate organs for correction. The suspect, or any other body, is not authorized to do this. This is what the principle of separation of powers dictates. Besides, the courts may sometimes make flawed decisions -- there are many flawed decisions overruled by courts of appeal.

What are the charges against Tahşiyciler group members? Are these charges true?

It is alleged that this is a group affiliated with al-Qaeda, and one that promotes violence and armed struggle. Are these allegations true? Only the independent judiciary may decide this. The court decided to initiate an investigation into the allegations based on strong evidence. Former Istanbul Governor Muammer Güler publicly announced this operation. In his current capacity as interior minister, Güler also referred to a number of operations against radical groups and organizations including the Tahşiye group.

What is the current stage of the prosecution and investigation in this case?

Based on what Nevzat Çiçek, the most ardent supporter of the Tahşiyeciler in the media, said, the case file was transferred from the Istanbul 14th High Criminal Court to the Bakırköy 3rd High Criminal Court. The first trial will be held on March 5, 2015; Çiçek also says that 20 different courts have ruled for the surveillance of the group's activities by the police. It is pretty hard to believe that all these courts would agree to conspire against this group. In this case, statements by chief prosecutor Hadi Salihoğlu and Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, where they refer to the group as a so-called terrorist organization, hold no ground. Do they know the outcome of an unfinished trial, or are they trying to influence the whole process?

What is the relation of this group with the Nur community?

Mehmet Doğan, whose group represents a small faction of the Nur community, attracts a great deal of criticism because of his unusual views on the Islamic exegesis Risale-i Nur. Abdülkadır Badıllı, who strongly criticizes Fethullah Gülen over the simplifications of these exegeses, also reacted to Doğan in 2003. Badıllı, who condemns Doğan's activities, made the following statement on Doğan's works: “His books focus on the same goal and outcome, which is as follows: this simple man, Molla Muhammad, is the Mehdi (Messiah of Muslims) the entire Muslim world expects. Osama bin Laden, who fights the US, is the Mehdi's military wing. Osama would become stronger in the near future and defeat the US -- in the end he would establish an Islamic state in Palestine. Then he would delegate this state to Mehdi who, along with Jesus, would consolidate power of Islam.”

What is the source of disagreement between Fethullah Gülen and the Tahşiyeciler?

Gülen, who places emphasis upon the peaceful side of Islam, has been targeted by members of this group, who have made insulting remarks about Gülen because of his heavy focus on “dialogue.” Based on what Çiçek says, the group published a book in 2005 wherein they heavily insulted Gülen. Now they argue that Gülen sought revenge for the book, which was only circulated among a very small number of people -- but this is a fairly weak argument, given that probably only a few people have read it.

Published on Today's Zaman, 17 December 2014, Wednesday