Fetullah Gülen (F.G) had been one of the most fervent preachers of Turkey before 1980. He was the foremost Nurcu group under the influence of the revolutionary Islamic leader Sayyid Qutb. In his early years F.G used to describe himself as “the reader of Fi-Zilal Al-Qur’an by Qutb”. During those early years his tapes circled around in which he insulted the Turkish President and the Chief of Staff of the time. During the 12 September 1980 Turkish Coup every other Islamic Group’s leader but F.G. was quickly and easily located by the perpetrators of the coup. How was that possible? What was his privilege back then? If the people he was in touch with and his relations in between 1980-82 can be deciphered, we can clarify the boundaries of his treason today. I believe he planted the seeds of 15th of July 2016 Coup back then. This project has been carried out until this day.
But when he was back in the arena in 1983, the traditional preacher with a turban and robe was gone. He came up with a new image. He started building up his ‘network’ of media and schools. In every city, his schools, the so-called ‘light houses’, dormitories were spreading in such numbers that it was almost impossible to follow. In his schools and special dormitories only Said-i Nursi’s books were read to such an extent that the students were told to read this book only rather than the Holy Qur’an. In this respect, the other wing of the Risale-i Nur Readers, who used to stand aloof to F.G at first started to sympathize with them. The newspaper ‘Zaman’ was founded in 1986. In 1990, all the infrastructure was established. From then onwards, ‘hizmet’ (service in their terminology) has grown like a snowball. I will occasionally use the Gülen Movement thereafter.
International trips starting with those to Georgia and Azerbaijan had opened new areas for Gülen. There was a colossal mobilization. Foreign commercial companies, schools and universities were set up by his followers. First they started schools in the countries of the Middle Asia followed by universities. In 1992, Gülen’s followers opened up 29 secondary schools only in Kazakhistan. They founded Süleyman Demirel University in Turkey 4 years later. After the Turkish President Turgut Özal penned a recommendation letter to Khazak leader Nursultan Nazarbayev, they found great liberties in this country.
Gülen’s schools spread into to Africa, Balkans, Europe and America subsequently. Almost in every country there was a Gülen school making them a global player in the global educational arena. They found the best and most talented children in these countries. Their schools were charter schools thus paid by the families, but the tuition of education was correlated with the economic status of the country they were serving.
How could this happen? Who was holding the magic wand for Gülen to get his way so easily? Two Jewish businessmen (both Turkish citizens) whom his followers boasted a lot, İshak Alaton and Üzeyir Garih, gave hints about F.G’s ties. Why were two Jewish businessmen helping the ‘Gülen Movement’ with such an enthusiasm? What was the secret that was hidden from the public?
Üzeyir Garih praised the Gülen Movement and said, in an interview in Hürriyet (a daily newspaper in Turkey), that he granted a large amount of financial aid to those Gülen schools abroad. Now it’s time to find the reasons lying behind Garih’s mysterious death.
In 1991, Mihail Gorbachov’s Glasnot policy led the way for Gülen to start even more schools in the Turkic Republics of Mid Asia. He also accepted students from these countries to his schools located in Turkey.
The movement had such an impact that, in the following decade, CIA reported ‘America brought an empty Islam to the Middle Asia by F.G’. Because nobody could understand the interpretation of Islam Gülenists brought with them. CIA’s sway over the Gülen Movement can be perceived easily if we look at the Russian and Uzbek resistance against these schools during those years.
The Gülen Movement seemed in harmony with all the left and right governments in Turkey during the 80’s, but when it comes to Refahyol Government by the end of the 90’s, they could never make up with Necmettin Erbakan, the prime minister of the Refahyol Government. Even during the 28th of February 1997 post-modern coup mainly targeting the muslim conservatives in Turkey, F.G criticized Refahyol. F.G was one of the instruments to topple the Refahyol Government. Even though he played the role of victim during the 28th of February 1997 Coup, the Coup plotters never really touched F.G. At first the coup was against the Islamists and they also tried to take Gülen in, but they had encountered such an interesting resistance from Bülent Ecevit, head of the mainstream left-wing secular party then, and the Koç Group, Turkish conglomerate, protecting F.G that it backfired. After all these events, Gülen were able to place 7-8 Gulenist ministers of parliament(MPs) during the Ecevit Government following the 28th of February 1997 Coup.
In the Islamic arena Gülen also initiated the controversial ‘Abant Meetings’ among the media and religious cleric. In the first of these meetings Gülen sent a letter telling:
“I am against the Islam rooted in (Islamic) revelation that encompasses the daily life because it is segregating and dangerous to our national unity.” By this letter, he declared that he was against the 1428 years of Islamic canon and genuine Islam.
Later on his conversation with the Catholic Pope dominated the media as his letter to the Pope was striking. The letter published in the Zaman daily on 10th of February 1998 showed his intentions clearly:
“To your Holiness the Honorable Pope,
We are here to be a part of the Papal Council’s mission initiated by the Honorable Pope Paul. We hope to see the results of this mission…. In our most humble and a little bold way, we have come to give our modest support to your valuable service to the world.
Islam has been a very misunderstood religion, and the Muslims are the most responsible for this.”
In this letter, Gülen declared that he was a part of the Papal Council and that Muslims were responsible for the Islamic image in the West. The so-called project of Dialogue between Religions meant dissolving Islam. At that point, Muslims started to raise their voices against F.G and his movement. For the first time people started questioning Gülen and he started to fall out of favor of the people. Immediately after he was taken to USA, which was the initiation of the new phase in this big project. From then on, his personal activities could not be monitored and he became a recluse and a hero among his followers. Almost a saint! A saint whose messages were conveyed to Turkey from Pennyslvania, where he also currently resides.
A separate research will be worth to understand if the the 28th of February 1997 Coup was done for the favor of the Gülen Movement. Again, except for Gülen, all the other Islamic communities had a blow during that coup. Especially İhlas Community, which has always been devoted to the government and never aided any rebellious activity against its country, had faced a great peril perpetrated by Gülenists who infiltrated into İhlas Finance House. Another blow was to Esat Coşan Hodja and Mahmut Hodja’s son-in-law. These were eminent Islamic peaceful figures that F.G saw as a rival to his intentions.
Yes, the 28th of February 1997 Coup did not touch any Gülenist. F.G. himself soon after the coup was taken abroad from Turkey to be introduced as a hero perhaps at a time when his involvement was about to be unearthed.
On the other hand, the government formed after the 28th of February 1997 Coup devastated the economy in the country in two years. Turkish craftsmen and artisans went out to streets to protest for the first time in Turkish history. People wanted prosperity and stability. Nobody could get across this flood.
That time it was obvious that Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who performed very successfully as the Mayor of Istanbul after 1994, and his team was walking towards winning the parliamentary majority to form the government. But there was a problem: during the 28th of February 1997 Coup, Recep Tayyip Erdogan was jailed just because he read a poem. The fact that he was deprived of his freedom when his political movement was enjoying a strong public support also made Erdoğan a hero in the minds of the people. He also had to be stopped.
But Erdoğan was released from the jail and his political rights were returned to him. He was then the leader of Ak Party and soon the Prime Minister after winning the parliamentary elections. The big question is if somebody (F.G.) then required Erdoğan to walk his way together with F.G. or to do no harm to F.G.’s activities in return for his political rights. I believe that was the case. I think Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s memoirs that might be published in the future will be crucial to further enlighten the facts.
I am also sure that Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan knew that he had to be careful with F.G. But who could he trust him? Was it possible to know who was loyal to himself or F.G at that time? He needed time to understand.
How could he know at the time that the same mastermind was holding the reins of both the 28th of Feb Coup plotters and the Gülen movement.
After Ak Party came to power, the Gülen movement was going into their 3rd decade. They prospected about this time as ‘the period of world domination’.
While Turkish people elected Ak Party as the government, the Gülenists were making a propaganda to take the whole credit. All the Gülenist activities were accelerated. All around the world ‘dialogue among religions’ project was fast forward. Christian and Islamic clerics came together in different arenas to sing songs of brotherhood. Even the deputies of Ak Party like Bülent Arınç was saying “Gülen accomplishes what the government couldn’t do.”
At that time, their schools had been established for 20 years, those school’s graduates were being appointed as government staff.
But above all the main question was ‘How can F.G establish such power on young people?’. From 1985’s forward they illegally gave the answer keys to their students for the critical central examinations sealing their bond by obligation. These young people owed their positions, their life to Gülen and they became voluntary soldiers of the movement. The treachery was in such extremes that all the government exams between 2005 and 2012 were found dubious.
The dialogue between religions had transmitted to the Head of the Religious Department of the government as the head minister Prof. Dr. Mehmet Aydın could say:
“We have to get rid of the 40 percent of Islam as we know today, as it’s not pure but affected by history” It must be noted that Recep Tayyip Erdogan took him from office in the following election. The cleric who should have given him answers were busy trying to guarantee their position in universities by saluting the person in Pennsylvania. One of Gülen’s clerics declared that “Hodja Gülen is the embodiment of Jesus Christ” in the daily Zaman.
Hizmet-Service to whom? It was hidden from the public. There were no masjids (muslim prayer rooms) in his schools all around the world. What were they hiding? Why did this dialogue work only one way? Was tolerance only to Christians?
In 2003, they also initiated the “Turkish Olympics” taking their philosophy to the scene. From all around the world they brought foreign students boy and girl together to sing Turkish songs. In the 4th Turkish Olympics they used the slogan ‘All the religions are one, all of us are brothers and sisters’ as an alternate to ‘All Muslims are brothers and sisters.’ hadith.
This musical involvement was brought to such an extreme that they have staged a premier for Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday according to Roman Calendar inviting the President of the time Abdullah Gül. It was the “Modern Turkey” that Demirel dreamt of. They were erasing the principles and original practices of relating of Islamic Holy Days. We have to analyze carefully who is behind the last decades’ trend of celebrating our Prophets’ Birthday according to the Christian Calendar whilst it had been celebrated according to the Islamic Calendar since Prophet’s time.
They also banned the famous ayah (verse) “Islam is the only true religion” read in the sermons from the Holy Qur’an. Suddenly all the mosques were filled with stools and chairs resembling our holy masjids to churches. After the Head of the Religious Affairs changed and Mehmet Görmez came to office all these destructions have slowed down.
In 2007 they put another show to the stage by manipulating the people with a new military coup claim. As they held the public’s attention on these neverending cases, they had infiltrated to many key positions in government and military.
The unfolding tension between Israel and Turkey after Prime Minister Erdogan’s famous ‘One Minute’ rising to Israel’s massacres in Palestine during 2009 Davos Economic Forum was fueling their cause.
The statements of Erdogan had eased the pain of the Islamic World over the massacres in Palestine and Gaza Strip. But it was to be followed by yet another bloodshed by Israel’s government on 31th of May 2010. The infamous Blue Marmara Ship all laden with humanitarian aid to Gaza Strip was raided by Israeli commanders and 9 Turkish humanitarian volunteers were shot to death. The Turkish government immediately suspended all relations with Israel. While the pain of those martyrs was not yet cold, F.G made a shocking statement:
“They should have listened to the Israeli authorities (and not go to Gaza at the first place)”
The turning point in this history was when Recep Tayyip Erdogan appointed Hakan Fidan to the head of MIT (National Intelligence Agency) in 2010. In every opportunity the Gülen Movements followers tried to discredit Mr. Fidan. If he was not appointed it is for sure they were going to take Erdogan from his position by another means.
Realizing the impending danger F.G and his movement posed to Turkish state, he took out many of Gülen followers from the parliament.
The turnout happened in the following months when they put the Football chicanery case to the stage. It was about one of the first three football clubs in Turkey, Fenerbahçe Sports Club. Every single person was glued in front of the TV to watch what was happening. The Zaman columnists of the time declared that “Erdogan failed to answer for bigger request trying to settle a smaller one” How could an Islamic leader have ties with a chicanery case in football? Were they trying to manipulate the masses of Fenerbahçe fanatics?
When Erdogan invited F.G to Turkey at the 2012 Turkish Olympics there was an outcry of anger from F.G’s writers. As an answer to this invitation F.G described Turkey as an unsafe country.
The Parallel State (informal Gülenist organization and hierarch within Turkish state machinery) they have formed by treason now started to yield fruit. Gezi Park Rebellion and 17th-25th December plots all worked for the same end. All F.G media satisfied with these events started to attack the government and Erdogan.
Now, Erdogan told the Turkish people the hidden facts about this “Parallel State network”, that they were like the Assasins of Hasan Sabbah, terrorists. For the first time Turkish people started to question the genuineness of the Gülen Movement.
On one hand people had helped this Gülen movement for 34 years, and on the other they had trusted Erdogan for 12 years. For 12 years Erdogan served his people and he accomplished his promises. But who was behind F.G and his followers? He was backed by all the national enemies and slowly more and more people started to see the truths clearly. Especially the curse session F.G serviced to his website, set the hearts of sincere Anatolian people against him once and for all.
F.G and his supporters aimed to topple Erdogan just like a century ago the same powers overthrew Abdulhamid Khan the Second. This coup was life and death for the Turkish people as it was aimed directly to their core values, to their state and to their beliefs. I guess eighty percent of F.G’s followers and supporters did not know he could go this far. But if somebody says this coup is a scenario written by Erdogan, be sure that person is a F.G sympathizer.
Not all the coup attempts had been successful in this land. There were lots of failed coups during the Ottoman history, we have to analyze how they were prevented to have a better understanding of today’s failed coup.
Never in the history of Ottoman Empire was a coup successful, if the Islamic Sanjak was taken out. Either the plotters were caught or executed. When President Erdogan during the Gezi Park Rebellions stated “I am hardly holding back the fifty percent of my citizens at home”, he was giving the first sign that there was an impending danger for the Sanjak. But this time 90 percent of the people stormed out to stop the coup, because all the Turkish people had suffered a lot from coups, and the memory of Menderes was still vivid in their memory.
This treason has enlivened and connected the Turks even more.
They taught it was time to give the last blow and finish the leader who could say “World is bigger than 5 nations”.
The only thing they forgot to calculate was that Erdogan trusted in the only power he says is above all other: Allah!
And then he trusted in his People!
Erdogan’s invitation to Turkish citizens to go out to the streets and fight back was similar to taking the Islamic Sanjak out.The Turkish people saw that the people (the Gülenists) they fed and trusted had become a monster. They shot their own citizens with the bullets people paid for. This will never be forgotten in the Turkish People’s collective memory.
Now it’s time to focus on education and teach our children our own model figures like Ahmed Yesevi, Mevlana, Yunus Emre, Somuncu Baba, Hacı Bayram-ı Veli, Aziz Mahmud Hüdayi, Alparslan, Çağrı Bey, Fatih the Conqueror, Süleyman the Lawgiver, Yavuz Selim Khan, Abdülhamid Khan Ⅱ…
Because the people like Abduh, Afgani and Gülen all who tried to bring ‘moderate Islam’ is doomed to be used by Islam’s enemies to finish it from within.
In this respect our government should pave the way for its citizens to learn the way of our Prophet that we have practiced for 1100 years. The clerics who said we have to change and reform Islam have always been the enemies of Islam. As Yunus Emre said:
People suffered a lot from
The hodjas that passed as prophets
The deceased thinker Erol Güngör told us in 1978:
‘USA uses the Islamic World against the Soviet Union, if the Soviet Union is gone, then, the world becomes one block and America’s enemy will only be Islam’
We need to give a better historical and Islamic knowledge to our young people so that they will never again be trapped by pseudo hodjas, clerics and religious leaders.
May Allah grant this venerable people unity, and a sense of togetherness always like this day.
Prof. Dr. Ahmet Şimşirgil
Translated to English by Meva Aişe Önyurt