November 7, 2014

Lawyer denies claims Gülen linked to new party

The lawyer of the Turkish Islamic scholar whose teachings are the inspiration behind the Hizmet movement, Fethullah Gülen, has denied reports in the media that Gülen or the Hizmet movement have founded or been involved in the formation of a recently established political party.

In a written statement issued on Friday, Gülen's lawyer Nurullah Albayrak said: “My client has nothing to do with the establishment of any party.”

Albayrak addressed attempts by some media outlets to establish a connection between Gülen and a political party established this week by a former ruling party deputy. “As my client has repeatedly asserted, it is out of the question that he proposed or guided, in a public or covert way, the establishment of any party. He has not spoken with anyone [or] expressed to anybody any positive or negative opinion on the issue,” Albayrak said.

The Hizmet movement was accused by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of taking part in a plot against the government following graft probes that went public in December of last year. Hizmet is a social movement known for its cultural and educational activities around the world.

Pro-government circles in Turkey frequently raise claims that the Hizmet movement is forming a new party. The claim was recently brought to the agenda again after İdris Bal, an independent deputy who resigned from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) late last year, recently formed a new political party.

Albayrak underlined in his statement that the reports and columns in the media cannot be considered to be written in good faith as they are attempts to create the false perception that Gülen and the Hizmet movement are behind Bal's party, especially considering the fact that this claim has been repeatedly denied by Gülen.

“My client has repeatedly announced to the public that he remains maintains at an equal distance from all political parties,” the statement said.

Underlining that Gülen chooses to offer support to democracy and human rights rather than to political parties, the statement added: “He definitely has no intention, neither today nor tomorrow, of launching, supporting or guiding a political party.”

Bal established the Democratic Development Party (DGP) on Tuesday after filing a petition at the Interior Ministry. Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday to promote his party, Bal denied claims that he decided to form the party after speaking with Gülen. He said he would be honored if either Gülen or other opinion leaders in the country lend their support to his party.

Published on Today's Zaman, 07 November 2014, Friday