After the failed coup in Turkey, there has been demands for the U.S. to release cleric Fethullah Gulen. Gulen is a self-banished cleric now living in Pennsylvania who is now being blamed for the Turkish coup that has turned into a Turkish Kristallnacht. People belonging to Gulen’s movement are being hunted down in the streets. One anonymous member described it like being a Jew in Germany.
Fethullah Gulen’s movement is called Hizmet (or “the service“) and members are called Cemaat (“the community”). They are an international Islamic movement that was once an ally to the Turkish government. There is little information about their platform or goals except that they are “cult-like” and secretive in it’s membership and ideals. The Turkish government, lead by the Justice and Development Party, usually tries to lean towards a secular government. A pleasant thing to see in the region! But regardless of Hizmet’s denial of the involvement in the coup, the once secular Turkish government is now shutting them down. Their main attacks have been Hizmet schools and communities.
The tension between the group and the government began a few years ago when Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ran into a power struggle with Gulan when anti government rhetoric was suspected. In response, the government shut down many Hizmet pre-university schools. In the first step toward even more trouble Gulan responded,
“If I were to say anything to people I may say people should vote for those who are respectful to democracy, rule of law, who get on well with people. Telling or encouraging people to vote for a party would be an insult to peoples’ intellect. Everybody very clearly sees what is going on.”
The fateful comment eventually lead to the self-banishment of the leader. Although this has yet to be clear evidence of the coup link, it does seem that the government is scared for it’s life and it’s power. It is a back and forth cat fight between cleric and tyrant that has turned deadly.
As the witch hunt continues, one has to wonder if this is still secular government we knew in the region and what exactly the West will think about this loss of Democracy.