It disturbed me to see your newspaper uncritically using the term ‘Fetö’ – standing for the so-called ‘Fethullah Gülen Terrorist Organisation’, which is a rather bizarre creation of the paranoid Erdoğan propaganda machine. It is true that, with most dissenting voices silenced and most of the opposition press closed, Erdoğan’s propaganda now reigns supreme in Turkey. Nevertheless, I see this as no reason to accept uncritically the messages that this machine churns out.
Fethullah Gülen stands at the head of a shady sect that also has a huge business network and whose tentacles stretch around the world. This movement has generally been known in Turkey as the ‘Cemaat’ or ‘congregation’. However, there is absolutely no known connection between this organisation and terror in any form.
Essentially, Gülen and Erdoğan, even if stemming from slightly different versions of political Islam, were partners in arms for decades when they were fighting to overthrow the secular Turkish state. They and their movements only suddenly fell out with one another in the second half of 2013, well after the Islamists had usurped the Turkish state, and the dispute was really over sharing out the booty.
This parting of ways led to anti-corruption investigations being brought against Erdoğan and his cronies, spearheaded by the vast body of people that the Gülen movement had infiltrated into the ranks of the police and judiciary. The leaked tapes that appeared at the time offered clear evidence that those at the top of the Islamist AKP government were up to their necks in corruption.
However, Erdoğan was able to save his bacon by rapidly dismissing large numbers of people from the police and judiciary and replacing them with his own placemen who immediately closed down all of the corruption investigations. It is essentially this event – the attempt to prosecute leading members of the government for epic-scale corruption – that the Erdoğan propaganda machine labels ‘terrorism’. Yet, by no stretch of the imagination can the bringing of penal proceedings against those accused of corruption be deemed to be an act of terror. The term ‘Fetö’ is a misnomer.
Published on Cyprus Mail, 31 July 2016, Sunday