The Human Tragedy in Turkey By Cemal Yigit
Since the failed coup in Turkey, the headlines coming out of Turkey are always best sellers. It’s either, the Turkish authorities are telling the whole world that they have found a one dollar bill that suggests that the Americans aided respected Islamic Scholar Fethullah Gulen in executing the coup, or they are arresting former footballers and even the unbelievable fact that convicted criminals in prison are to be released to free up space for coup suspects. In truth, the clamp-down is taking a comical direction.
But beyond, that, there is a bigger tragedy happening in Turkey; a tragedy of immeasurable proportion, a tragedy of catastrophic nature and a tragedy with grave consequences for the future generation of Turks. In most of my write—ups, I have sufficiently highlighted why the recent purge in Turkey is nothing but witch-hunting. I will explain why with facts.
As of August 18, 2016, over 113 news outlets have been shut down, 77 well-respected journalists including Nazli Ilicak, 72 years old veteran of Turkish journalism and a staunch supporter of liberal democracy. 1,254 charity organisation and foundations have been shut down, 35 hospitals and dialysis centres shut down, 81,494 people that included doctors, nurses, policemen, lawyers and others suspended from work and in some instances, have their licenses withdrawn or revoked, over 20,000 people arrested. All of these individuals and organisations are linked in one way or the other to the Hizmet movement. In today’s turkey, if you are found reading a book written by Fethullah Gulen, you will definitely be arrested as a coup plotter.
In a very modest word, I will say that the demonization of Hizmet movement participants has assumed a dangerous level. And I will give some instances; in Turkey, the government has a toll-free line for people to call in and report Hizmet movement participants and they will be arrested. In Turkey, a father got his son arrested for being a participant of the Hizmet movement. In Turkey, a bold inscription of “Gulenist are not allowed to pray here” is posted at the entrance of almost all the mosques in the country. And only recently, a stall owner bans the sale of fish to Gulenist.
The tragedy of all these is that Hizmet movement participants have been painted really black. They have been called terrorists. They have been victimised, harassed and dehumanised for no just cause. The government of Turkey believes that the 75-year-old Fethullah Gulen was behind the coup. But they failed to mention that this same man that they have labelled a terrorist and coup plotter has been living a reclusive life in the last 17 years. They also failed to mention that this same man is not a politician. They also failed to acknowledge that this same man is an Islamic scholar, writer and the author of the world applauded and best-selling book “Toward A Global Civilisation of Love and Tolerance” that was translated into 36 languages and sold millions of copies. How can such a man be behind a coup in Turkey?
President Erdogan has heaped all the blame on Fethullah Gulen even without tangible evidence that Fethullah Gulen was behind the coup. In truth, the accusations are such a hard sell. For such accusation to see the light of the day, it would be tantamount to feeding an infant with salt and expect the infant to survive. President Erdogan is covering up something in my opinion. He is caused a distraction with the coup to move the attention away from his activities that can be best described as a sin against humanity.
The human tragedy in Turkey as it stands today is unimaginable. President Erdogan has also extended the witch hunt to relatives of his perceived enemies. For instance, the father of former Turkish international footballer Hakan Sukur was arrested and put in jail in the absence of his son. The daughter of a famous writer and poet was also arrested and put in jail because her father could not be found. The mother of a lawyer was also arrested and put in jail. And the list goes on. What is the crime of these people? It’s simply because they are participants of the Hizmet movement. They are not coup plotters or cultist or criminals. They simply follow the teachings of Fethullah Gulen that emphasise dialogue, love, and tolerance.
President Erdogan in his wisdom has criminalised the activities of the Hizmet movement and he wants the whole world to see things from his point of view only. He wants the world to believe the Hizmet movement is some cult or terrorist organisation. This is how bad it can get in his demonization agenda. But scholars and well-respected individuals have studied the Hizmet movement and written what they think about the movement. I will state one here from the numerous that have been said.
“I found Hizmet to be remarkably moderate, tolerant, non-violent, open to dialogue, a social rather than political movement, and a strong proponent of education as the means to empower Muslims and Non-Muslims in a globalizing future.” Graham Fuller Former vice chairman, CIA’s National Intelligence Council; Author “Breaking Faith”
The Hizmet movement has never been involved in acts of violence in its history and will never be. It is, therefore, imperative for the clampdown of members of the Hizmet movement to be discontinued. Fethullah Gulen has called for an international investigation into the allegations and he did so with utmost humility that he is associated with because oppression has never been long-lived. It is really a human tragedy happening in Turkey.