November 30, 2015

CHP deputy calls trustee’s order to remove Gülen’s books from shelves ‘primitive’

Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) İstanbul deputy Akif Hamzeçebi has criticized an order given by a trustee appointed to run Kaynak Holding for copies of all books written by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen to be removed from the shelves of NT Mağazaları bookstores, calling it “primitive.”

Kaynak Holding was seized in a government-backed operation earlier in November. An İstanbul court ruled for the appointment of seven trustees to manage 21 companies operating under the umbrella of Kaynak Holding.

One of the trustees, İmran Okumuş, has ordered Gülen's books to be pulled from the shelves of NT bookstores without any legal basis, despite his duties relating to the administrative works of the company.

A nationwide bookstore chain, NT is one of the 23 companies operating under the umbrella of Kaynak Holding, which also owns the country's largest publisher, Kaynak Publishing House.

According to the order, Gülen's books -- which are among the best sellers in Turkey -- were to be collected from the shelves before Nov. 28.

Commenting on the issue, Hamzeçebi said a trustee does not have the power to demand that certain books are pulled from shelves, and called the act completely unlawful.

Hamzaçebi recalled the Constitutional Court's decision to annul a law sponsored by the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) that declared a monopoly over the publication of the "Risale-i Nur" collection, written by prominent Islamic scholar Bediüzzaman Said Nursi, on the grounds that the law violates freedom of expression, and the right to property and artistic freedom. It was Hamzeçebi who applied to the top court for the annulment of the controversial law regarding the publication of the “Risale-i Nur” collection.

The “Risale-i Nur” collection is a tafsir (exegesis) of the Quran that explains the truths of faith in accordance with modern science.

Hamzaçebi said the Constitutional Court found the law in question contrary to freedom of expression and artistic freedom, but the trustee's order for Gülen's books to be taken off the market, which disregards the top court's earlier decision on the “Risale-i Nur” collection, represents a similar case. He said it is a primitive act to order books to be removed from shelves in the 21st century, saying the trustee does not have any authority to act in such a way.

The editor-in-chief of the Yeni Asya daily, Kazım Güleçyüz, also criticized the trustee's order, saying he believes the order will be canceled in court if an appeal is filed against it. Güleçyüz says the duty of the trustee is to deal with the financial and administrative works of the companies, highlighting that any act done outside those authorities is arbitrary and unlawful.

“Collecting books from the shelves is an act that belongs to ancient times. It was [among the] shameful acts that were undertaken during times when democracy did not exist at all,” Güleçyüz added.

In the dozens of books Gülen has written, he promotes ideals such as peaceful co-existence with others, inter-religious and intercultural dialogue, democratic values, altruism, deepening one's religious values and the fight against extremism and radicalism. Particularly after the Sept. 11 attacks in the US, Gülen took a leading role in calling on Muslims to stay away from violence and extremism and remain loyal to the core values and real meaning of Islam.

Published on Today's Zaman, 30 November 2015, Monday