Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What If 10 or 15 Years from Now 60% of the United Nations Speak the Turkish Language? - By Dr Aland Mizell

What if sixty percentage of the United Nations agrees with Gulen’s idea ten or fifteen years from now? What will our world look like?  Will our world be a better place? You may ask, “Where did you get that idea?” and then upon hearing the answer, you may respond, “No way will this happen.” Every day thousands of students graduate from Gulen’s schools around the world, then hold high positions in their countries, and speak the Turkish language. Some of them are already diplomats, and some of them are police chiefs or recruits in the military and secret service, as well as in other critical roles. Gülen himself dreams of ruling the globe; as a result, Gulenists are using religion as the soft power in international relations, remain thirsty for power, and strategize to rule the world, not just Turkey. Because Gülen wants global rule, they are globally engaged politically and consequently they are using a plethora of tactics to change constitutions. In Turkey, however, Gulenists no longer are soft power; they have already changed Turkey’s profile. They are claiming to be democratic and advocating democracy, but still one man rules all the while espousing democracy and openness. His organization remains secretive, non-democratic, and extremely wealthy. The democratic world is right to be concerned about this movement’s system. Today we see the return of religion to the mainstream of political life in an array of settings around the world, and it has become central to international relations. Changing the paradigms of international relations, religion-based diplomacy, such as interfaith dialogues, Rumi forums, alliance of civilization, and cultural centers, have emerged. Using an explicit claim that all faiths have common denominators, he really wants to accomplish his goal of world domination but not by common denominators but by his Turkish-brand ideology. The collapse of the Soviet Union resulted in many external powers, including Turkey, competing for influence in Central Asia and in the Caucasus regions. Gulen’s movement has mainly been focusing its strategy of developing transnational networks because of its strong presence in Central Asia. Gulen’s educational institutions operate at the Turkish government’s expense or at Western or American taxpayers’ dollars, Euros, or pounds. The funds pay for the exchange of specialists in various fields, including diplomacy, to go to European or American centers of power and later to return to their countries, and those students are then placed in certain critical positions in the government including representing their country at the United Nations. But they are extremely loyal to Gülen rather than to the country they now represent. I think that one of the Gulen’s dreams is to see the majority of the members in the United Nations as his followers and saluting his ideas. That is a dangerous dream.

Many people naively believe Gulen emphasizes the importance of pragmatic reasoning to serve what he sees as the common goals for all humanity, to fight materialism and to reveal the existence of God in people’s lives, but today Gulenists are more materialistic than most other people. For Gülen, the key word is control, and control means submitting to the leadership; the leaders for them tend to be absolute, looked to as prophets of God, and especially considered as anointed apostles. For example, when Gulen declared that his followers should go to Turkey for the referendum, and when he commented that if he had power, he would bring dead people from the grave to vote for the new constitution that will put an end to the military’s influence and boost his power to total control of Turkey---then his absolute power was seen. As a result of his decree, many traveled from abroad to Turkey just to say yes to change the Constitution because often in this kind of blind obedience, obeying leaders and their teachings is equal to obeying God. Gulenists believe Gulen is untouchable by anyone. His followers believe he is accountable to God, so that everyone else should obey what he says and enjoy his dominion. Gulenists consider that they alone understand correct doctrines, and they alone have the truth, so one must join them to go to heaven. They have created an "us against them" attitude, which is very dangerous. How can this kind of view be tolerant as they habitually self-proclaim they are? What proof do they have that they are the only ones to hold the truth? In their view, service to Gulen’s community means service to God. Part of this allegiance is because he threatens those who oppose them. The hardest part is situations involving family and friends. Recruits will often have to give up their friendships and family if they want to get a reward from Gülen and his leaders or if they want to keep a good standing in the movement.

The tactics used to control the followers and to keep them in the group are usually 1) fear of disobeying or displeasing God, the leader, or both, 2) fear of rejection, 3) the punishment of losing one’s salvation and going to hell, and 4) the most often used, intimidation and accusation. For example, anyone who questions their authority is treated as rebellious and not trustworthy.  Anyone who challenges Gulen’s doctrine is automatically branded as the enemy, which is usually anyone who disagrees with the methods they use. As a case study, the former minister of security, Hanefi Avci, is currently speaking about his book memoirs on TV shows.  In the book he reveals insights about Gulen’s Islamic sect and its ideology.  As a coach of the current AKP party, Gülen threatened to tape his conversation if Avci went against them. But why is Hanefi Avci writing against them? He was once a supporter of Gulen’s movement; he sent his children to their schools, and who know how many of Gulen’s students he placed in the police academy? He argues that the reason he was with them and supported them in the past was because they were under pressure and the military, the secular government, and the media treated them unfairly. Today, they are applying the same pressure and unfair injustice to others, so I stand against them. Almost since their inception Gulenists had been persecuted unfairly by the military and the secular government.  But isn’t it true that believers will accept persecution, knowing that it tests the genuineness of their faith? Actually the real servant leader should be a servant of those he or she leads. However, Gülen is being exalted, requiring his followers to serve him and his movement’s programs. But isn’t it that the greatest among us is the one who is a servant? 

Law is not the Law if it violates the principles of eternal justice.  Today, Avci is criticizing Gulen’s system of rule in its corruption and thirst for power and direction. Avci loudly says that today in Turkey, “There is a state of fear; no-one is safe because everyone is occupied with what if I become a victim of a set up.” I was taught that democracy means sharing, being tolerant of those different from you, and most importantly, allowing for equal opportunities. The reason Gulenists and the AKP wanted to change the Constitution is because they want to get rid of checks and balances in order to have total control. Now the referendum has passed and the constitutional reform package will be implemented to the controlling party’s and thus the Gulenists’ advantage.

Avci also claims that Gulen’s community is behind many incidents, from the 2006 Council of State attack to the shadowy incidents in Erzincan. He is very sincere and has devoted his life to public service as a professional intelligence expert who spent years of his life capturing wrongdoers.  Basically, Avci, as well as many others, are saying that today this community is dangerous because it has its hands on every dirty thing going on in Turkey and soon will take control of Turkey, which requires a constitutional change to guarantee their total control of the country. Due to his excellent work credentials, Mr. Avci may be viewed as a sincere and competent person who cares deeply about the fate of his country. He is very courageous to risk his life for it instead of running away to live in foreign countries. Turkey needs many more people who are not afraid to speak out and denounce unpalatable truths in Turkey like Avci does.

Gulenists have absolute control over the lives of their followers. They can dictate to the members what to do, what to say and how to say it. That’s why Hanefi Avci did not listen to them and did not agree with them. Because he is criticizing Gulen’s organization, Gulenists are targeting Avci. If, however, someone agrees with them, praising them and their activities, they will always praise that individual just as they are doing for the AKP party, President Gul, and others. When a reader looks at the Zaman newspaper, he will note that the reporters seem to be working for the government; but, if a reporter is not one of them and does not agree with them, then that individual is destined for hell. Is Turkey in a state of fear because the Gülen community is now in charge? What has changed? Only the names. The secular government had problems, but the current Islamic government has worse ones.

In The Prince Machiavelli argues that to build an empire through power and wealth, along the way the prince needs to defeat his rival and to manipulate politics and religious institutions through bribery, slander, assignation, and degradation of a person’s character. Machiavelli is talking about when Italy focused on world trade expansion. In Machiavelli’s view, it is important to obtain the goodwill of the populace to maintain power. Therefore, the appearance of virtue may be more import than true virtue. Machiavelli does not separate politics from the ethics of the end justifies the means; any way the prince leads is legitimate as long as he achieves his goal. To remain in power, a prince must avoid the hatred of his people. It is not necessary to be loved; in fact, it is better to be feared because being hated can lead to the downfall of the prince, according to Machiavelli.

He argues that the prince should always try to appear to be virtuous, not necessarily to be virtuous, and the prince should not avoid the vices such as cruelty or dishonesty if employing them will benefit the state. Our human nature asserts a number of inherent traits. Machiavelli believes people do admire the virtues of honor, generosity, courage and piety in others but most of them do not exhibit these virtues themselves. Instead, ambition is commonly found among those who have achieved some power.  People naturally feel a sense of obligation after receiving a favor or service, and this bond is usually not easily broken. The prince was written during a time of political turbulence as a practical guide to help Lorenzo de Medici stay in power.  The most memorable concept associated with Machiavelli’s work is that the end justifies the means. Any action or behaviors is justifiable as long as it furthers the group’s goals. To lie to others, to the government, or to outside groups is acceptable since outsiders are serving the Devil, while the insiders are serving God. The best way to uncover Gulen’s community is to involve his followers in a discussion about freedom of expression, sexuality, and the role of women in society. They will give a response similar to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s remark, “I don’t believe in equality between men and women.” Their feigned love of equality emerges quickly.

Chief among Gulenists’ claims is that they are tolerant. Why can they not invite someone who is really against their views to their conferences, instead of just inviting those who agree with Gulen’s positions; can they not also invite those who do not praise Gülen but who object to his ideas and fault him?  What would be the reaction of his followers? Would they be tolerant toward diverse opinions? Can they allow anyone who objects to Gulen’s view to speak? Today, under the Gülen community’s administration, Turkey is in a state of fear. Nothing has changed from previous administrations except the name. A causal look will not reveal any state-induced fear, but there is a grave fear of open self-expression in public. This is a country where anyone with a reputation will not discuss politics over the phone for fear of being taped or slandered.  Gulen’s community infiltrated the police force and other state departments including the judiciary, and, as mentioned, the military. They are using these positions to gather information about officials, actors, journalists, and people whom they dislike to use against them in the future.  In his book Devotee Residents of Haliç: Yesterday State, Today Religious Congregation, Avci said he was one of the officials who illegally wiretapped while he was the police chief of the western province of Eskisehir. Gulenists and the government indeed are trying to silence the hostile media. It has hit the biggest opposition newspaper group Dogan Holding, with a billion dollars tax  because the Dogan Group did not support them and do not share their same views.  They are trying to block Avci and his book as well. Nurettin Veren also revealed the same facts a couple of years ago, and many people blamed Veren, and, of course Gulen’s media machine slandered Veren, saying that Veren had some personal issues and had engaged in some kind of affair, so that that is why they kicked Veren out of the community, but,  according to Nurettin Veren, it was because he objected to Gulen’s view and did not listen to him. Gülen declared him a betrayer, because as it is very well known that Veren was close to Gülen and co-founder of the Gülen movement. However, he left the movement because of the lack of transparency and the one man rule, a true dictatorship.

Because Gulenists suppress questions and conform to group behavior, they will not allow critical thinking or rational thought and questions. No independent thinking is allowed. Control is usually important and covers most aspects of the followers’ lives. Dress codes, activities, finances, and relations, among other things, even if they are presented any evidence that they are false, they will shift members’views to question the motives or the character of the person and ignore the evidence. This is the case of Hanefic Avci who is an Ergenekon supporter. Just as they accused Nurettin Veren of a adultery, so the focus is on Hanefi Avci’s character and how to degrade him and not the proof against what Hanefi Avci says in his book about them.  Thus, they will slander detractors and call them the emissaries of the Devil, so that no one can trust what others say about them.

Yet, even with the truth about the organization coming to light in books and articles readily available and these exposes revealing the movement’s true goal and tactics, day by day the Gulenists recruit thousands of followers, wealthy contributors, and sponsors of more schools to teach Turkish and to raise up these Turkish-speaking leaders ready to assume power from the schoolroom to the UN assembly room.

Dr Aland Mizell  is with the MCI. You may reach the author via email at: