The aftermath of the coup in Turkey (2)



Fethullah Gülen
Continued from Tuesday
Participants in the Hizmet Movement have been overseen by hundreds of governments, intelligence agencies, researchers or independent civil society organisations for 25 years and have never been found to be involved in illegal activities. For this reason, many countries do not take seriously the accusations of the Turkish government.


The most important characteristic of the Hizmet Movement is to not to seek political power, but instead to seek long-term solutions for the problems threatening the future of their societies. At a time when Muslim-majority societies are featured in the news for terror, bloodshed and underdevelopment, Hizmet participants have been focusing on raising educated generations who are open to dialogue and actively contributing to their societies.


Since I have always believed that the biggest problems facing these societies are ignorance, intolerance-driven conflicts and poverty, I have always encouraged those who would listen to build schools instead of mosques or Quran tutoring centres.


Hizmet participants are active in education, health care and humanitarian aid not only in Turkey, but also in more than 160 countries around the world. The most significant characteristic of these activities is that they serve people of all religions and ethnic backgrounds – not just Muslims.


Hizmet Movement participants opened schools for girls in the most difficult areas of Pakistan and continued to provide education in the Central African Republic during the country’s civil war. 


While Boko Haram took young girls hostage in Nigeria, Hizmet participants opened schools that educated girls and women. In France and the French-speaking world, I have encouraged people who share my ideas and values to fight against groups that embrace radical Islamic ideologies and to support the authorities in this struggle. In these countries, I strived for Muslims to be recognised as free and contributing members of society, and have urged them to become part of the solution rather than be associated with the problems.

Despite receiving threats, I categorically condemned numerous times terrorist groups such as Al Qaida and ISIS who taint the bright face of Islam. However, the Turkish government is trying to convince governments around the world to act against schools that have been opened by individuals who did not take part in the July 15 coup attempt, and who have always categorically rejected violence.


My appeal to governments around the world is that they ignore the Turkish government’s claims and reject its irrational demands.


Indeed, the Turkish government’s political decision to designate the Hizmet Movement as a terrorist organisation resulted in the closure of institutions such as schools, hospitals and relief organisations. Those who have been jailed are teachers, entrepreneurs, doctors, academics and journalists.


 The government did not produce any evidence to show that the hundreds of thousands targeted in the government’s witch hunt supported the coup or that they were associated with any violence.

It is impossible to justify actions such as burning down a cultural centre in Paris, detaining or holding hostage family members of wanted individuals, denying detained journalists access to medical care, shutting down 35 hospitals and the humanitarian relief organisation, Kimse Yok Mu, or forcing 1,500 university deans to resign as part of a post-coup investigation.


It appears that, by presenting the recent purges as efforts that target only Hizmet participants, the Turkish government is in fact removing anyone from the bureaucracy who is not loyal to the ruling party, while also intimidating civil society organisations. It is dreadful to see human rights violations occurring in Turkey, including the torture detailed in recent reports by Amnesty International. This is truly a human tragedy.


The fact that the July 15 coup attempt – which was an anti-democratic intervention against an elected government – was foiled with Turkish citizens’ support is historically significant. However, the coup’s failure does not mean a victory for democracy. Neither the domination by a minority nor the domination of a majority that results in the oppression of a minority nor the rule of an elected autocrat is a true democracy.


One cannot speak of democracy in the absence of the rule of law, separation of powers and essential human rights and freedoms, especially the freedom of expression. True victory for democracy in Turkey is only possible by reviving these core values.


(This is the English translation of the op-ed by Gulen originally published in Le Monde on August 10, 2016.)


Concluded
*Fethullah Gülen is an intellectual, preacher and a social advocate.
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