August 30, 2017

[VIDEO] 'Carrying out service, Hizmet seeks peaceful coexistence; accusations are manipulative and absurd'

Tom Gage*

I think it is absolutely a travesty, what has happened [in Turkey]. I have been to Turkey ever since the 1950s. I was there first in 1959 and I've been to Turkey over 24 times.

When I was on my way to Turkey [in 1959], I was in Gibraltar. Only 14 years after the World War II, when there were hundreds of thousands of Christians and Jews trying to get out of Europe into Africa; people forget about that. But, in fact, at that time there were no democracies in Europe but for four countries, and three of them were neutral. Only England was a thriving democracy and it was fascism.

What I have seen happen in Turkey is a stunning reversal of promising/emerging change that I have witnessed all throughout the 1980s and 90s. And then all of a sudden, under the auspices supposedly of democracy, to see what has happened has been one of the most wretched things that I have observed in my lifetime.

Totally absurd. People are grabbing on to the word terrorism to simply label what they are bothered by. I've seen President Erdogan's actions; in fact I published an article in the 80s on a man named Çelik Gülersoy, who was responsible for renovation of all Osmanli (Ottoman) buildings in Istanbul. He was ruined when the President was the mayor of Istanbul. It is something that I've suspected all along. There were signs that the AK Party being promising. And I think the civic group (Hizmet) was no way a competitor with the AK Party. Many of the members were voting for the AKP. They weren’t a rival group. The United States press has been wretched in portraying the Hizmet Movement. This is a wonderful group of people who are encouraging schools around the world. They're bringing people together. When a disaster hits, the Kimse Yok Mu organization is the first one there, with a battalion of people to help people in need; and it is the word hizmet. That means service.

A good book from the University of California, where I got my degrees, came out last year by Martin Marty entitled: Hizmet Means Service. I think people if people keep that in mind about what Hizmet constitutes and what Hocaefendi has established in his career, they would better understand what is being perpetuated under the auspices of terrorism [accusation], under the nonsense that ‘this is a parallel organization within the state’ is manipulation of other terms often used in the history of Turkey, to totally misrepresent the past and to cast aspersions on one of the greatest movements.

I met Martin Luther King in the 60s. And I think that Fethullah Gülen is right there with Martin Luther King to advance understanding and an alliance of civilizations and not to perpetuate the clash.

* Professor Emeritus in English Department at Humboldt State University, California.

Published on 30 Plus TV, 29 August 2017, Tuesday