Fethullah Gulen - Wikimedia
CAIRO - 15 July 2017: It is not easy to find a Turkish political dissident old man who is being chased by regimes and terrorist organizations from all over the world. Fethullah Gülen, leader of Hizmet movement who has been living as a Political refugee in Pennsylvania, USA for more than 20 years talked to Egypt Today through email about several issues, including the current political regime in Turkey, the real reasons of his dispute with Erdogan and his expectations for his country’s future:
A year after July 15, 2016 coup, how do you evaluate what happened during this period?
Turkey has witnessed a lot of injustice and freedoms violation during the past period, not only after July 15, even before that. The ruler party has controlled the judiciary system, as you can tell there is not any independence in the way it- Judiciary system- works.
Huge number of sever repressive practices were applied on civilians for the first time in the Turkish history, even some American media outlets started to make comparisons between what is happening now in Turkey and what some dictators like Joseph Stalin and Mao Tse-tung did.
You have been accused of being responsible of the July 15 coup against Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In your opinion who is responsible for it?
In the same night, I condemned the coup attempt and assured that I’m not responsible for it and that I don’t have any relation with any of its planners, Erdogan insisted that I’m responsible even before starting the investigations; however these accusations are neither real nor true.
I am not in a position that allows me to accuse anyone with a coup attempt; however according to some media, analysts and experts reports this attempt was not planned to be a real coup. Some of the secular nationalist hardliners designed this movement to look like a coup; accordingly, Erdogan troops will have the chance to get rid of all the Turkish army members who supports me. This would allow the Turkish president to tighten his powers over the army and give his militants the chance to go within the army troops.
Shortly after the coup, I suggested to make international investigations to know the truth about what really happened during this night. I announced that I am willing to buy a ticket myself and go back to Turkey if I was convicted with planning to the coup attempt; however, Erdogan refused.
How do you see Erdogan’s rule?
The experts have discussed Erdogan’s law state and his eligibility to take the office, especially after the allegations that went viral regarding forging his university degree; however, personal wise I do respect Erdogan, but I do not think he has the required qualifications to be the president.
I think Erdogan is now following the steps of the worst dictators the history have known.
What the Turkish people can do regarding the state of repression it faces.. And do you think Erdogan can be sued internationally?
It seems that there is no one left to say “enough” to Erdogan, most of the people who tried to stop him before are now in jail, and if the opposition can’t find a way to defend the civilian and constitutional rights then it’s completely useless. Some of them used to ignore the regime injustice just because they weren’t targeted by its actions, but they didn’t know that it will get to them one day as well, as for the Turkish people have many different ways to express their anger and abjection in peaceful ways.
Some of the Arab countries decided to cut its diplomatic relations with Qatar, how do you see the Qatari-Turkish relations now, and what do you think of the establishment of a Turkish military base in Qatar?
Excuse me, but I do not want to talk about issues could be related to other countries political affairs; however, I never been convinced that Erdogan is really confronting ISIS. From a way I think he is pretending to help the international coalition to confront ISIS, but from another he is financing the terrorist groups in north Syria.
ISIS militants are being treated in the Turkish hospitals, to be released later without any interrogation or investigation. Most of the media outlets know that already but I think that the United States and the European Union do not want to take serious actions against turkey for many reasons including Turkey’s strategic location and the Syrian refugees’ issue.
I also think that the turkey regime is trying to blackmail Egypt and intervene in its affairs through using Muslim brotherhood.
How far you think Hizmet movement has been oppressed by Erdogan regime?
They shut all the organizations affiliated to the movement inside Turkey, dismissed more than 120,000 employees, and jailed about other 50.000. All of those did nothing but being members of a political party.
Do you expect the coup attempt to be repeated anytime soon against Erdogan?
Regardless that the 15 July attempt was not a ‘real coup’, I do not think that any military movement could talk place against the current government. Despite all the aggressive actions they used against the opposition, I don’t second any non-democratic way of ending the Erdogan rule.
Earlier, Erdogan accused you of being ‘hypocrite’ and terrorism supporter.., what do you think of that?
Until December 25, 2013, my relation with Erdogan was great, we used to meet and talk; however, I cannot understand what happened after that date made the Turkish government very angry with me.
All of this started when Erdogan government’s members were accused of being involved in corruption cases, the following day Erdogan’s perspective towards Hizmet movement was changed, although all of our activities remained the same. The only one who should be asked about all of these accusations is Erdogan. Still however, we hope that he returns to the right democratic track he used to take during the first years of his rule.
Some of the Turkish people organized a protest in front of the white House demanding your extradition to their government. Who do you think is financing and supporting these demonstrations, and how far you think you are secured and protected by the American administration?
Most of the demonstrations organized in the United States are usually against the current Turkish regime and the justice and development party; however, there are some organizations with very good relation with the Turkey-ruler political party inside the U.S., and there are very high expectations that they are getting financial aid and support from the Turkish government.
I live in the United States for nearly twenty years, so I can say that the American government provides security for all its citizens and visitors without any discrimination. I am sure that the officials here are extremely aware of the situation my political movement and I are facing and that they have the potentials and ability to handle the situation.
Since when you are away from your home, and do you still want to go back to Turkey?
I miss my homeland, and wish I can go back to the place I love, but I don’t want this visit to cause other problems of any kind, as I will not be able to go back as long as the current regime is ruling.
Do you have anything you want to say to the Arab and Turkish people?
There are too many things in common between the Arab and Turkey people. We could have used these things in common; however, we are living very hard days. From one side we have these terrorist and armed groups which distort Islam all around the world, and from the other side we have regimes knows how to get benefits from the existence of these groups and don’t think of anything but its own interest.
I ask all of the Muslims everywhere to pray to God for our salvation.
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