With the Gülen movement officially marked in police reports as being a “terrorist organization,” we can say that the ruling party's war against the civilian populace has truly reached its dirtiest stage. A brief summary: The Gülen movement is undoubtedly one of the Muslim world's most peaceful and tolerant civil movements ever. Within this movement, religion is present as a source that nourishes people's altruism; the movement's areas of interests, however, are shaped by problems on the global level that are then faced through strong civilian solidarity.
Areas dealt with by the Gülen movement are as critical as they are basic: education, health and assistance with both food and water resources. At the same time, it is impossible that a movement as globalized and spread out as the Gülen movement could or would possess a secret agenda. Which is why when such a movement is labeled a “terrorist group” one can only suspect the intentions of those casting such labels.
When Recep Tayyip Erdoğan started building his own autocracy following the 2011 elections, he began a covert war against the Gülen movement, using the tools placed at his disposal by the state. The reason for this war? Erdoğan viewed this strong civilian movement as the greatest barrier to his own rule and knew that the Gülen movement would not remain quiet in the face of weakening democracy and justice. Perhaps the most ambitious move made by Erdoğan in this covert war was to try and shut down Turkish private preparatory schools.
Then, while making plans to defend himself from the Dec. 17-25, 2013 corruption investigations, Erdoğan decided to try and kill two birds with one stone. It was now time to bring out into the open the war that had been, until that day, covert. Using a label borrowed from Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan, Erdoğan declared that the Gülen movement was in fact a “parallel structure,” going on to assert that the investigations into corruption in the government were in fact nothing more than a Fethullah Gülen-led “coup attempt.”
What made this defense on Erdoğan's part feasible was the media power in his hands, the result of funding through state bidding tenders. And this is how the political ruling powers in the country stepped forward to try and criminalize the strongest civilian movement in Turkey.
In the end, though, political lies have a lifespan, too. When you use your political power to declare someone else guilty, if you don't wind up proving your claims, you start to look like a big liar. Erdoğan used every tool available to him in his quest. On trips abroad, he complained to politicians in other countries about the Gülen movement. He personally oversaw a long-term media campaign against the Gülen group. He brought forward thick dossiers filled with unsubstantiated allegations about the Gülen movement. He uttered insults against individual members of this movement, insults the likes of which in most countries would immediately constitute a scandal.
But in the end, as mentioned above, lies and slander only live for so long as eventually the truth has a way of making its way to the light. Around the time the Gülen movement was marked down in police reports as being a “terrorist group,” there arrived a proposal in Parliament to form a “research commission” whose job it would be to look into all these claims.
The proposal itself came from opposition parties in Parliament, calling for research to be made into assertions about “coup attempts,” “the parallel structure” and a civil movement that has “all the characteristics of a terrorist group.” As you may have guessed, the proposal was immediately rejected by deputies from the ruling party. And so it was that any attempts to research the existence and actions of a “parallel structure” were blocked by those making the original allegations. The real goal herein is of course to block the emergence of the giant lie being foisted by the ruling party.
But until what point? In order to sustain this lie, there will be no end to the need to create new lies. Which is how we arrive at one of the latest lies, the story about the “assassination attempt against the president's daughter.” Such a completely childish lie must have seen improbable, even to Erdoğan, as he himself wound up making it clear he didn't believe the claims.
Yes, we can see in this all just how truly dirty the war being waged against Turkey's strongest civil movement really is. And sadly, we appear to be at the dirtiest stage yet of this war.
Published on Today's Zaman, 23 February 2015, Monday