November 1, 2015

Fethullah Gülen’s photo

Ekrem Dumanlı

A religious cleric, currently a popular figure who frequently appears on TV, once told me a sad anecdote.

He said: “We traveled to İstanbul together with my father following the 1980 coup [d'état]. My father suddenly stopped when we approached the Eminönü seaport. He was about to start crying; I looked him in the eyes to understand why he was sad. He pointed to a flyer which displayed names of people wanted by the coup administration. I was unable to understand why my father was so touched by this. Showing one of these photos, of Fethullah Gülen, he said to me: ‘I know Gülen from my service as a mufti in İzmir; what unjust man included him on this list as if he is a terrorist?'”

Those who are not old enough to remember the Sept. 12, 1980 coup would not know about these flyers. The so-called “mujahideen” who now go after construction bids would not understand the meaning of being wanted during the period sparked by Sept. 12. Those people would not possibly know how people were placed like worthless items in trucks and how they were brutally tortured in military barracks.

Fethullah Gülen was wanted for six years since the 1980 coup. Police raided homes, the intelligence agency went after him, he never expressed any anger or complaints vis-à-vis this. Some days, we read books in homes where he stayed as a guest by using flashlights; some days, he was able to see his mother only very briefly. And then he disappeared again. There was no reason for him to surrender because there was no justice. Now his photo is once again included on the wanted persons list. And his photo is depicted next to the photos of bloody terrorists. This is even more savage and merciless than what the Sept. 12 coup makers did. The Sept. 12 coup makers did not know who Gülen was; they were unaware of his ideas on love, tolerance and dialogue. But how about those who now do this again?

They call all those who do not join them as terrorists. They declare innocent people terrorists just because they do not endorse their policies. They suppose that innocent people would be regarded terrorists if they argue in their papers and magazines, and on their TV stations, that they are indeed terrorists.

I took a look at one of the reports by a pro-government paper. I felt ashamed on behalf of the person who prepared that report. He will not be able to look at the face of his children in the future. And they will be unable to explain the conversation we had with Gülen. The editors-in-chief who prepared reports accusing Gülen of terrorism once attempted to show a tribute to Gülen who, however, responded modestly. I will someday tell you about this story. And I will tell them to publish the photos they took with Gülen; they should publish them so that the public can see their hypocrisy. I also have something to tell the informants: Well, it is always possible for a person to fail to preserve the same standards at all times, but it is really surprising to see them significantly lower their standards.

How about the members of the judiciary?

There is a mechanism in the judicial system. If you are to implicate a person, you should put your political orientation aside and not seek revenge for the political figures you support. You stay focused on the file at hand, the concrete evidence in the file and the appeals by the defense; in the end, you make your decision based on an objective reading of the evidence and your conscience. Then the legal process takes over: indictment, defense, hearing, appeal and even sometimes international courts.

If a member of the judiciary, without exhausting all of these stages, calls a person or a group a terrorist, then he has to take off his robe and seek political office.

It is a twist of fate to see that the mindset that led to the inclusion of Gülen's photo on the list of terrorists in the Sept. 12 coup process has been revived and taken the souls of the pro-government circles hostage. We are seeing the resurrection of the coup-making attitude 35 years later. Who should be ashamed of this? The person whose photo was included on the list of the terrorists drafted by the coup makers, or those who published the photo of a renowned Islamic scholar next to the leader of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)?

History will not forgive the persecutors and will remember the scholars.

Published on Sunday's Zaman, 1 November 2015, Sunday