Many of you who waste your precious time reading my blog may occasionally say to yourselves “There he goes again! Toritto the know-it-all!”. I wouldn’t surprise me and it’s OK. My daughters, when they were kids, once bought their old man a t-shirt emblazoned with the words “There is No Thing He Does Not Know!” Wise ass kids with no respect.
I like to consider myself a well informed citizen of the Republic as befits a voter in a “democracy,” When I read of the attempted military coup in Turkey against an Islamist government (albeit an elected one) which appears becoming more authoritarian and oppressive by the week I was not surprised. I am old enough to have seen military coups in Turkey before.
Most westerners have the view that the Turkish military considers itself the guardians of secularism – the heirs of Ataturk.
What did surprise me and sent me scurrying for more information was when the Turkish government placed the blame for the uprising on – Fethullah Gulen.
These are words I had never heard. What or who is Fethullah Gulen and why is the Turkish government blaming it…….or him?
Turns out Fethullah Gulen is a self exiled, Turkish Islamic cleric (yes, another one!) living in, of all places, Pennsylvania! The Turks want him extradited for his “crimes” while Secretary Kerry has refused unless “evidence standing up to scrutiny” is provided by the Turks.
“An authoritative mainstream Turkish Islamic scholar, social thinker and educationist Fethullah Gülen (1938) has long been engaged in peace activism, interfaith and intercultural dialogue, promoting science, democracy and spirituality. Living in exile in Pennsylvania, he promulgates a spiritually inclined faith in Islam. He has propounded spiritual Islamic theories, which can contribute to the modern approaches to peace, non-violence and counter-extremism. Interestingly, he is not a social scientist but his ideas are very relevant to peace and conflict resolution. Gülen strongly advocates the importance of democracy, pluralism, education, science and interfaith dialogue for peace and conflict resolution in the Muslim world.”
Fathullah Gulem has been characterized as a “progressive Islamic modernist.”
Gülen’s ideas, primarily drawn from Islamic sources, have inspired the powerful civic and social movement, Hizmet or what is popularly known as ‘Gülen movement’ within Turkey and abroad. The Turkish word ‘Hizmet’ is derivative of the Arabic-Persian word “Kihdmat” meaning “service” and hence the movement has established hundreds of educational, civic service organizations and institutions in over 160 countries, actively contributing in the areas of peacebuilding, conflict resolution, intercultural-interfaith dialogue, education, media and relief work.
Gulem apparently used to support the Turkish government of Erdogan which was duly elected. The government however, is now moving against the Hizmet which has tens of thousands of Turkish followers, accusing it of setting up a “parallel government.” Thousands of Hizmet’s supporters in the military, the government ministries, the clergy and education have been detained and/or fired from their positions.
Gulen claims that the government is using Hizmet as a scapegoat for anything that goes wrong and as an excuse for further crackdowns and oppression.
“At a time when the Muslim youth are falling prey to the extremist jihadist thoughts, Gülen’s initiatives are particularly aimed at producing solutions to the baffling problem of radicalisation and growing religious extremism in the Muslim societies.”
Many experts on Turkey apparently believe that there is more going on here than just scapegoating. They view it as a rivalry between the political Islamism and a moderate and mystical narrative of the faith. Fathullah Gülen has written many articles and books in support of democracy, liberalism and pluralism. Given this, it appears to be a slugfest between a relatively liberal and secular Islamic modernist in disagreement with Turkey’s conservative and political Islamist government.
Turkey vowed to root out allies of the U.S.-based cleric it blames for the abortive coup last week, widening a purge of the army, police and judiciary on Tuesday to universities and schools, the intelligence agency and religious authorities.
Around 50,000 soldiers, police, judges, civil servants and teachers have been suspended or detained since the coup attempt, stirring tensions across the country.
The Gulen movement has been criticized as “cult like” by some but the organization runs some 120 charter schools in 25 states right here in the good old USA, funded by us taxpayers and staffed mostly by persons admitted to this country under the H1B visa program.
In 2016, an email revealed during the Hillary Clinton email controversy indicated that Gülen follower Gökhan Özkök had had direct access to Clinton’s staff member, Huma Abedin, and asked for a 15 minute meeting for Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu (an ally of Gülen who lost to Erdoğan in 2014) with President Obama in 2009.
The meeting with Obama took place in Istanbul; several .days after the email Gülen followers reportedly donated between $500,000 and $1 million to the Clinton Foundation.
Nice. No wonder we haven’t heard anything about it.
One can learn something everyday. You’re never to old to learn what’s going on.
Now all I wonder is if he is CIA.