Tag Archives: Fethullah Gülen

Turkey : Turning mayoral elections into Armageddon rehearsal

The battle between Turkish jedis is raging in the midst of pastoral Turkish life. To those who know nothing about Gülen and Erdoğan garlands of blue and orange flags of the two major parties in the streets may seem like decorations for a city festival.

On March 30, such a common affair as local elections in Turkey will turn into a battle between two iconic characters of the XXI century – Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Fethullah Gülen.

None of them will be running that day, but Turkey’s future as well as the future of the whole Middle East – the place where the world’s destiny is determined, no matter how stilted it may sound – depends on how many of Erdoğan’s candidates win elections.

By force of circumstances two Turks turned into symbols for whom one country is too small.

Islamism versus Americanism

Erdoğan, a NATO country leader, took the path of the Political Islam, which is called Islamism in the West and is considered to be violating rules of democracy which ordains that religion must be separated from politics. NATO and the US are fighting against this Islamism in Afghanistan and Iraq and they have been planning to fight against it in Iran for a long time.

Erdoğan strongly supported Palestinians’ struggle and intentionally and publicly damaged his relations with Israel. After 70 years of a strict ban he rebuilt the Mosques, destroyed by the Turkish reformer Kemal. He restored the forbidden azan (calling for prayer) and the right for Turkish women to wear hijab in schools, colleges and government institutions. It was during his time that Islamic organizations emerged in Turkey, filling in the void left by secularization and spreading Islamic teachings.

Gülen is a living denial of Political Islam. He is a retired imam, a son of imam, a writer and a preacher, the founder of the Hizmet movement, which is opening Turkish secular schools all over the world. Generation after generation those schools produce loyal disciples ready to work for the common cause of enlightenment and better life.

Gülen’s followers are present in all social groups; they can be found among government officials, policemen, prosecutors, journalists and sportsmen. They are also quite numerous among Erdoğan’s people. This is not a party or a religious order, they don’t have membership cards, but they are headed towards rational pragmatism, acceptance of the world and peaceful coexistence with all the things of this world.

Gülen used to support Erdoğan. But after the episode with the “Freedom Flotilla” he stopped supporting him, and lately their relations turned into a direct confrontation.

Gülen has been living in the US since 1999. He has strong political ties there. Gülen supports NATO, the USA and Israel. Shortly before the elections he cursed Erdoğan though he never mentioned his name in his address. And, according to many of Erdoğan’s followers, he is responsible for all the anti-Erdoğan scandals and media leaks before the elections.
Erdoğan called Gülen’s followers “a parallel state” and promised to close all their schools in Turkey.

In March, two former US ambassadors to Turkey Morton Abramowits and Eric Edelman published a report which sounds more like a threat. In their report they predicted that Turkey and Erdoğan will collapse and a coup will happen, if Erdoğan continues to persecute Gülen’s followers.

There is no doubt that these threats, coming from people close to neocons, are not just an emotional reaction from disgruntled officials. Turkey is flooded with Syrian refugees and militants, many of whom are directly linked to US intelligence agencies.

As one of Erdogan’s followers pointed out, groups of Syrian militants have been increasingly active inside Turkey, inciting conflict.

For example, on Thursday, March 27, members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) opened fire on police in Ümraniye, leaving three officers wounded. ISIL is one of the groups fighting against both Assad and rebels in Syria.

The relationship between Erdogan and Putin, on the other hand, seems to be developing in a totally different vein. In 2012, Erdogan thanked Putin for supporting Palestine in its bid for observer status in the UN.

In March alone, Erdogan and Putin talked twice because of the Ukrainian events, including one time on the day of the Crimean referendum. Erdogan asked Putin to take care of Crimean Tatars along with ethnic Russians in Crimea. Moscow responded by promising that the Tatars’ rights won’t be infringed. In April Turkish Airlines plans to renew regular flights to Crimea.

Rehearsal for disorder?

In 2008, Foreign Policy called Gülen the world’s most powerful intellectual of the year. In 2013, Time included him into the top 100 most influential persons.

The global media appear to have chosen to side with Gülen, and in doing so they basically follow Gülen’s own rhetoric. Erdoğan is presented as a “dictator” and is denounced for trying to cut off public access to Twitter and Youtube. At the same time, the media have devoted much less attention to General Sisi who has sentenced to death 529 people in Egypt. The intensity of the media coverage looks to suggest that choosing from these two, cutting off Twitter is a sure sign of a tyrant.

“Erdoğan needs 38% to win, and he will make it, he is supported by half the country, by all rural residents,” – says a bright 22-year-old from İskenderun. This young man sleeps 2 hours a day, he’s been working since he was 12, he is currently in college, learning English, and dreaming of making it to a university. He is one of Erdoğan’s new active and pro-education generation.

“Erdoğan will win. I support him, and all my friends and classmates too, he has fresh ideas and people understand him,” – these are the main messages voiced by many.

All sorts of public polls surface in the media, but I haven’t seen 38% mentioned anywhere.

You could say that the more figures make it to the public domain in Turkey, the more unreliable they start to look.

Erdoğan’s supporters in the media believe that 45% will secure his win.

Rehearsal for disorder?

In 2008, Foreign Policy called Gülen the world’s most powerful intellectual of the year. In 2013, Time included him into the top 100 most influential persons.

The global media appear to have chosen to side with Gülen, and in doing so they basically follow Gülen’s own rhetoric. Erdoğan is presented as a “dictator” and is denounced for trying to cut off public access to Twitter and Youtube. At the same time, the media have devoted much less attention to General Sisi who has sentenced to death 529 people in Egypt. The intensity of the media coverage looks to suggest that choosing from these two, cutting off Twitter is a sure sign of a tyrant.

“Erdoğan needs 38% to win, and he will make it, he is supported by half the country, by all rural residents,” – says a bright 22-year-old from İskenderun. This young man sleeps 2 hours a day, he’s been working since he was 12, he is currently in college, learning English, and dreaming of making it to a university. He is one of Erdoğan’s new active and pro-education generation.

“Erdoğan will win. I support him, and all my friends and classmates too, he has fresh ideas and people understand him,” – these are the main messages voiced by many.

All sorts of public polls surface in the media, but I haven’t seen 38% mentioned anywhere.

You could say that the more figures make it to the public domain in Turkey, the more unreliable they start to look.

Erdoğan’s supporters in the media believe that 45% will secure his win.

Sarıgül is making a promise to build a monument to the “martyrs of democracy” i.e. the victims of the police crackdown on the protests in 2013.

Different sources place Topbaş 7% to 9% ahead of Sarıgül. However, the media keeps predicting a failure for Erdoğan in Istanbul. And it is known that whoever loses the Istanbul election loses the nation-wide election…

Two Turkish men from Anatolia, one young and one old, seem to be equally displeased with the prime minister: “We never voted for Erdoğan, and we hate him. When he started out he had nothing, and now he’s got it too sweet.”

Some of the Erdoğan opponents try to give a more detailed argument.

A 46-year-old Kurd from nearby Diyarbakir who had been to the Gezi Park protests together with his son, says: “Erdoğan is telling everyone that the Gezi Park protests were all staged and orchestrated, but I went there of my own will, no one had asked me to. Erdoğan owns 9 TV channels and most of the newspapers, so journalists cannot write anything against him unless they want to lose a job.”

A shop owner from Edirne, 39:

“Erdoğan will go, his time is over, he’s up to his ears in dirty business. It makes me furious when he dares say the name of Allah and then talks about money. I am a Muslim, but I do not want the rule of the Sharia law. If we had the rule of the Sharia law in place, Erdoğan would have had both his hands cut off. If Kemal had been alive he would have destroyed Erdoğan physically, not just politically.”

“I am no fan of Gülen either, he is even more of a fundamentalist. I want a secular state; Turkey needs the government to make domestic issues a priority over foreign relations. Look what he did – he’s trying to engage in the Syrian crisis, all the while there are loads of unsolved problems at home. That’s no way to do it,” – says a taxi driver, 49, a native of Izmir.

Soon the people will make their choice and we will know what they consider the lesser evil, legalized invasion of privacy or no access to Twitter.

RT Op-Edge.

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New Scandal – Erdogan Government Hit With New Recording Of Alleged Corruption

Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan‘s regime, mired in a corruption scandal, suffered a new blow on Sunday with the online release of another allegedly incriminating phone call involving an ex-minister and a businessman.

The recording of the phone conversation posted on the Internet was purportedly between Reza Zarrab, an Azerbaijani entrepreneur, and a confidant to whom Zarrab explains how former economy minister Zafer Caglayan allegedly complained about not having received a promised kickback of 10 million euros ($13.8 million).

The voice supposedly of Zarrab says he was “very surprised” that the ex-minister hadn’t received the money which came from his company, saying it must have been “a mistake”.

Caglayan and three other ministers were ousted from Erdogan’s cabinet after a police raid on December 17 in the vast corruption probe, which involved Caglayan’s son and several dozen high-profile political and business allies of the Islamic-rooted government.

Zarrab was among those arrested in the raid and charged before being released last week along several other suspects pending trial.

According to police documents, the minister’s son Kaan Caglayan is accused of acting as an intermediary for giving and taking bribes, while Zarrab was suspected of forming a ring that bribed officials to disguise illegal gold sales to sanctions-hit Iran via state-owned Halkbank.

The latest online leak comes after a number of audio recordings were posted on social media sites, one allegedly of Erdogan himself discussing hiding large sums of cash and conspiring to extort a bribe from a business associate.

Erdogan, who has dismissed the recordings as fabricated by his rivals, has threatened to ban popular networks like YouTube and Facebook as part of his government’s effort to get a tighter grip on the Internet.

The Turkish premier has accused supporters of exiled Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who wields considerable influence in the judiciary and police, of launching the corruption probe to destabilise his government ahead of March 30 local elections and a presidential vote in August.

via Erdogan Government Hit With New Recording Of Alleged Corruption – Business Insider.

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Turkish leader’s turmoil may stem from a former ally

Faced with a deepening political crisis, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his allies have been squaring off with courts, police and prosecutors. But behind it all, Erdogan’s government largely sees the hand of Fethullah Gulen, a charismatic religious leader and former ally of the prime minister who lives in self-imposed exile in the Poconos.

From his Pennsylvania compound, the 72-year-old Gulen is the spiritual force behind a global movement that has drawn millions of passionate adherents to his teachings of tolerance and peace.

In the United States, he has been the inspiration behind a rapidly growing network of public charter schools, including a school scheduled to open in the District in August. His movement has also built ties to local and national political leaders, lauding them with awards and sending them on trips to Turkey.

Gulen’s split with Erdogan erupted after the government announced a plan to shutter private schools — many owned by the Gulen movement — that help Turkish students prepare for college entrance exams. In a sprawling corruption investigation that has touched businessmen with close ties to Erdogan, many of the prime minister’s backers see a conspiracy led by Gulen’s allies, who are said to hold important positions in the police force and the courts.

Gulen’s critics, wary of his deep reach into Turkish society, have been careful not to mention him by name but frequently suggest the investigation is being carried out by his supporters. In a recent statement, Gulen has denied any link to the investigation. Gulen’s office did not respond to a request for an interview for this story.

The religious leader’s reclusive life makes it easy for critics to blame him for their troubles, said Joshua Hendrick, a sociology professor at Loyola University Maryland and author of a book about the Gulen movement. At the same time, by mostly staying out of sight and communicating through a Web site, Gulen “becomes something far more than what he is. He becomes the superhuman that his followers believe him to be,” Hendrick said.

Emre Celik, president of the Rumi Forum, a Gulen-inspired center in Washington, said that as a young man in Australia, he was attracted to the way Gulen spoke about fighting “poverty, disunity, and ignorance.”

“These are social ills for the whole world, and it’s incumbent on Muslims to help alleviate these ills, no matter who is suffering,” said Celik, who volunteered in the movement until becoming a computer science teacher at a Sydney high school.

The Rumi Forum organized four trips to Turkey in May and June 2013 for think tank and university scholars, nonprofit group representatives, and government employees, Celik said. The group also hosts dinners during Ramadan and this year invited officials from the departments of State, Justice and Education, as well as Washington embassy and religious groups.

In 2011, Joshua DuBois, then the director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, was a recipient of one of the annual Rumi Peace and Dialogue awards. Former secretaries of state Madeleine K. Albright and James Baker have given speeches at the Gulen Institute, a similar group based in Houston.

Since the start of 2011, another Houston-based group, the Turquoise Council of Americans and Eurasians, has paid for 10 trips for members of Congress to Turkey and Azerbaijan. The group’s president, Kemal Oksuz, is the former executive director of the Niagara Foundation in Chicago, whose honorary president is Gulen. In the same period, at least four other members of Congress made trips to Turkey sponsored by ­Gulen-associated groups.

“It’s important to introduce people to our Muslim society and to introduce them to their counterparts in Turkey,” Celik said.

Fethullah Gulen

Fethullah Gulen

Gulen’s movement has schools in some 150 countries. The U.S. schools, operated under different “brand” names such as Harmony and Concept, total more than 120 in two dozen states, with an academic emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math, or “STEM” skills. Islam is not taught in the schools.

By and large, the schools are regarded as academically successful. While leaders of some of the schools say they have been influenced by Gulen, others, including Harmony Public Schools, say they have no formal connection.

The schools have sparked some controversy.

In 2012, the Texas state education agency found Harmony, the largest charter operator in the state, failed to properly document its use of $186,000 in federal funds, or about one-third of the dollars auditors examined for the fiscal year ending August 2010. Harmony repaid the money, according to the state, but school officials maintained they did nothing wrong. Harmony schools have also drawn scrutiny for their reliance on visas to bring Turkish staff to the United States. A spokeswoman said fewer than 10 percent of Harmony’s 2,617 employees hold H-1B visas.

In Philadelphia, an English teacher at a Gulen-linked Truebright Science Academy Charter School sued the school this year, claiming that it had hired and promoted less-qualified Turkish nationals and paid them more than U.S.-born educators who were certified and more experienced. The civil rights complaint was settled for an undisclosed amount.

In Chicago, a Gulen-connected school, Concept Schools Inc., lost a bid last year to open two new schools. Concept Schools appealed to the state charter school commission, which was created in 2011 by lawmakers including Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan. Madigan had visited Turkey four times in the past four years at the expense of the Niagara Foundation and the Chicago Turkish American Chamber of Commerce, according to disclosure reports. The state commission reversed the earlier decision and gave the green light to Concept Schools to open two new schools.

Gulen arrived in the United States in the late 1990s seeking treatment for diabetes and stayed after he was charged with trying to overthrow the secular government. He was acquitted of that charge and is free to return to Turkey.

Both Gulen and Erdogan are religious conservatives, and the two men joined forces for years to bring Turkey’s powerful military under civilian control.

Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said Gulen’s movement draws inspiration from a Sufi Islamic tradition that seeks to combine modernity and Islam, instead of advocating an Islamization of society as some Muslim Brotherhood groups do. For that reason, he said, Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party “was never completely comfortable with the Gulen movement.”

Turkish leader’s turmoil may stem from a former ally – The Washington Post.