By Dr. Aland Mizell:
He who knows how to flatter also knows how to slander, Napoleon once said. Greed and selfishness are also universal human problems that plague all political, social, and economical systems. As a result, problems with greed and lust for power can easily distort justice and other moral and ethical values, and instead result in ideological monopolies that eliminate competition and ultimately lead to tyranny. We are all familiar with the problems of corruption and unethical behavior in the Fethullah Gülen movement and in the Turkish government related to solving Kurdish problems.
For a long time when the Justice and Development Party (AKP) was listening to Gülen and his followers, Erdogan was flattered for things he was doing for the country, but once Erdogan did not listen to Gülen, but rightly listened to the people who voted for him, they began to slander Erdogan for being a dictator, for not listening to the people’s voice, for just protecting his interests, and for operating by nepotism, among other charges. The other example is that for a long time the Gulenists used and flattered the Taraf newspaper for getting rid of the secular military, but when the newspaper editor Ahmet Altan revealed some of the Gulenists’ unethical behavior by publishing the Wiki leaks and some of his speeches, they began to discredit the publication.
The speeches revealed that Gulenists wanted to have more people in the AKP party in the previous election because Erdogan had been sick, underwent two surgeries, and could die early, which might have resulted in their not having as much power in the government; consequently, they had to act while they had a chance. Suddenly Gulenists begin a dirty and slanderous campaign against the Taraf newspaper and against Ahmet Altan accusing him of not being a good journalist: so the maxim, he who knows how to flatter also knows how to slander, proved true.
Today people in Turkey, including the AKP party and even some abroad in the United States, have begun to challenge some of the movement’s unethical behavior in its thrust for a monopoly and power. British historian Lord Acton said,”Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Acton was talking about all humans being prone to sin, and therefore that no one should be trusted with absolute power, and that the government should be a limited government with a system of checks and balances in place to prevent rulers from abusing their power. The problems with Gülen’s movement is that Gülen wants absolute power, and his followers think that he is chosen by God, that he has absolute truth, and that he must be obeyed, not defied, for challenging him means committing a sin.
Gülen and his followers are trying to build a utopian society with absolute power
However, history tells us that the utopian tent includes totalitarianism: these imagined societies are based on the premise that if a visionary or a faction is given all the power and a free hand to order society as they will, they will solve all problems and will have an ideal world. But to be able to have this ideal world, they have to quash dissent, and all aspects of society must be placed under the authority of the ruler, in this case Gülen.
The tactic Gulenists are using to create the utopian society is first denying all allegations against them, and so far they are been successful. Second, they silence all other power once they are sure that they have total power. Gulenists will acknowledge the problem and react according to their interests; for example, recently the Turkish court closed the Kurdish newspaper Ozgur Gundem without the Turkish media or Gülen’s community reacting, but at the same time when the Zaman Today bureau got attacked in Europe, the Gulenists made sure the European Parliament condemned the attacks. Paradoxically, while denouncing the attack on the Zaman, the Gulenists turned a blind eye on the Ozgur Gundem closing; however, even if they acknowledge the problem, since they are in charge of it, they have a monopoly and everything is resolved according to their will. They will close all the Kurdish Youth Associations but will open more Gulenists houses in the region. It is true that even the best governmental structure in the world cannot prevent corruption.
I would argue that today if the Kurdish question becomes like a cancer in the Turkish society, that it is caused first by a widespread lack of ethical behavior on the part of the Turkish government; second, by the unethical behavior of the Turkish Muslims’ mosques and spiritual leaders, mostly the Imams including Gülen and his followers; third, by the unethical behavior of the Turkish public; and fourth, by the unethical behavior of the Turkish media. The concept that there is a moral law is the essential foundation of justice, civil equality, and human rights. Dr. Luther King in his Letter from the Birmingham Jail argued from the basis of a moral law to appeal to his readers using writers from the Christian natural law tradition to make his case that an unjust law does not bind the conscience, and that we have a moral responsibility to resist unjust laws.
Previous regimes bombed Kurdish newspapers’ buildings, but this regime closes them and puts the journalists in jail; that is the only difference between the current and former ruling parties. Turkish oppression against the Kurds has gone on for more than three decades; yet, you will not see one newspaper address the oppression by the military or by the Turkish government. You will hear at every prayer time at mosques imams condemning Israel, but praising the Turkish armed forces, declaring them heroes, and encouraging them to kill more Kurdish guerrillas – young men and women.
Once, however, their interests are involved, they declare the military and the armed forces terrorists and put them on trial not because of what they have done to the Kurdish people but because what they have done to their devotees. Gülen himself in all of his past speeches praised the military and called the military a holy institution. On one occasion when the Kurdish Parliamentarian Leyla Zana condemned what the military was doing to the Kurds, Gülen asked for Leyla Zana to apologize to the military, but today they have put more than 360 Turkish military generals in prison.
Delayed justice is not justice. I am sure Gülen himself knows the oppression of the Kurdish people. Yet injustice against the Kurdish people is the reason they do not want to solve this injustice because Gülen wants to subjugate them and then to assimilate all the Kurds into his ideology and infiltrate every institution, newspaper, school, university, and mosque to follow his ideology, so that he will be able to be successful in achieving his goals. They have to put all those with strong power in jail and not allow them to flourish, but once the Gulenists become at the pinnacle of their power, and then they will slowly say to Kurds, “OK, now come let’s talk about freedom and democracy.”
Gulen and his followers also know the best solution for the Kurdish problems is to give them a semi-autonomous region and to let them be internally independent, but the reason Gulenists do not want this is because they want to ensure that Turkey becomes a Presidential system and to make sure that the central government in Ankara has more power, not to share power with another entity.
If Gülen does not have any political agenda, then the Turkish people have a democratically elected people to represent them, and they are the ones who should decide what happens in Turkey. Mr. Gülen and any individual has the right to voice his or her opinions like all other Turkish citizen, but why does Gülen get so involved in politics and tell the government what it should do? Why should Prime Minister Erdogan listen to the voice of one person? All the people have certain God-given rights that preceded the institutions of human government, including particularly the right to life and liberty. Since these were given by the God, no government or individuals have authority over them and cannot take them away.
These ideas also shaped and helped sustain one of the longest lasting governing documents, the US Constitution, which also sets up a system of checks and balances. The primary duty of government is to defend its people’s inalienable rights and to listen to the citizenry who voted for them. If that is the role of government, then the Prime Minister should listen to the people, not to only one individual.
The need for consistency exists
The moral law must inform everything we do. We cannot compartmentalize it and only apply it in some areas of life while ignoring it in others. For example, more than five thousands Kurdish politicians, intellectuals, writers, journalists, and professors are incarcerated, even though most of them have never been involved in any serious crime. Their only guilt is that they refused to accept the oppression of the Turkish government and the military policies in the Kurdish region, and then consequently, the Turkish government accused them of being terrorists to promote violence and hate against Kurds in Turkey; yet the Kurds do not urge the PKK to retaliate nor do they praise the PKK’s killing of Turks or the military unlike the Turkish media, Turkish public, and spiritual leaders declare. Nevertheless, when the military kill the PKK rebels, these same actors praise the government forces for killing the PKK insurgents.
Not long ago Gülen himself asked in one of his weekly sermons how in the world the state could be so ineffective in dealing with Kurdish resistance. “It is really shameful and embarrassing that the state has not killed them all,” admonished Gülen. He vehemently advocates the killing of every single Kurdish guerilla, and he is unequivocal about this when he says, “Let us say there are 15,000 or 50,000 of them. So addressing the Turkish state, you have around a million intelligence personal. I don’t want to mention them all by name, but you have several intelligence organizations; you are a member of NATO; you are involved in cooperative projects with a number of international intelligence organizations, so use these projects and programs to localize, identify, and triangulate every single one of them and then kill them all one by one.”
Mr. Gülen knows that more than two million Kurds still on some level support the PKK, so should they kill all the Kurds who identify with the PKK as well?
According to the European Union Treaty passed in 2008, hate speech is specified as a form of expression that spreads and promotes hate based on intolerance and animosity towards individuals or groups. Hates speech not only inflicts psychological damage on the victim but also tends to incite hate crimes, which can be defined as a criminal offense motivated by prejudice or hostility based on an individual’s ethnicity, national identity, religious beliefs, or social status. Does Mr. Gülen’s speech not promote hate, more violence, and killings? Why would any peace and justice loving person not consider this to be hate speech? The language of civil rights and tolerance is merely an ironic tool of convenience for Gülen and his followers in the West to advance their cause of ideological supremacy. True advocates of tolerance, dialogue, and love are concerned about rights for all people regardless of race or religion, and this is something that the Turkish government and Gulenists have never been able to understand or to produce, and by all indications, they never will.
If his speech promotes hate and violence, then why has no one in the US filed a lawsuit against him for promoting violence, hate, and human rights violations? Even including the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP)? Injustice makes the perpetrator weak. The Gulenists blame the BDP, the Union of Communities in Kurdistan (KCK), and the Kurdish media for promoting hate and violence, but consider Gülen, the Turkish media, and the government praising the Turkish Army for killing the PKK and supposedly ameliorating the violence. When someone threw an egg at a Turkish member of the Grand National Assembly (MP), he was given five years in prison, but when the police lynched the Kurdish MP Governor Ahmet Turhan and denied it, and when several dozen police dressed in plain clothes beat up Ahmet Turk, the former chairman of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP), the silence was deafening. Has the interior ministry opened a probe against the police who hit the 79 years old MP in the eye? Why has the governor of Van not resigned for failing to open the probe against the police officers? Where is the lawsuit against Gülen for condoning and ostensibly encouraging these acts of violence?
When laws are unjust, when they do not conform to the moral law, we have a moral obligation to work to change them and to resist them if necessary through civil peaceful means, but Gülen and his followers failed to do so. Instead, spiritual leaders and imams who teach spiritual moral values make an exception in the case of the oppression of the Kurdish people. Mosques fail to address the issue of Kurdish problems. Instead imams address the Palestinian issues but fail to allocate even one day or one sermon to criticize the Turkish government’s ongoing oppression of the Kurdish people. Instead Turkish Muslim spiritual leaders in mosques praise those who kill the military and declare them heroes, giving them incentive to kill more Kurds. This is not preaching tolerance or love; this is preaching hate, widening the gap and creating more hate. I do not know why the West and self-declared academicians who get paid to seek the truth ignore the real face of Gülen, his followers and his movement. Where is the charge against his incitement of hate and violence? Failure to recognize and live by moral truth invites chaos in a society.
If today thousands of Kurdish and Turkish have lost their lives because of a failure to recognize moral law, and if a society does not stand on moral laws, then Gülen and Gulenists will impose their morality on society and will regulate all aspects of behavior, and that is the high road to tyranny. To millions of Kurds, the PKK is not a terrorist organization: it is a counterbalance against Turkish oppression and unjust laws. The PKK was created as a result of this kind of hate, unjust laws, Turkish nationalism, and Turkish immoral policies. So if Turkey really wants peace, I support Prime Minister Erdogan in wanting to talk with the PKK and the BDP because the BDP says they are politicians and do not want to use arms. The PKK has indicated that they want to deliberate, so the Turkish administration should talk to the PKK to learn what its adherents want. Silencing the Kurdish voice is an effective way of making a casualty of truth and making Turks believe all sort of distortions. Without talking to the PKK and the BDP; without releasing all the journalists, Kurdish intellectuals, and politicians; without properly addressing the issue of injustice related to the Kurdish problem; and without new civil constitutions that recognize the Kurdish people’s rights, the Kurds’ oppression will not be solved but instead will be exacerbated.
Turkey is moving toward a democratic theocracy because citizens can elect their representatives, but religious leaders like Gülen are seizing more power and dictating what the government can do. Why do Gulenists want power? Because unstrained power sets its own agenda. So many people believe that the movement tries to do what is morally right, yet there have been plenty of occasions in recent history when the movement has acted like a corrupt policeman using the threat of lawsuits to silence people who would reveal the group’s true agenda, a tactic that signals total power. Gulenists preach freedom, tolerance, and democracy while undermining elected governments and supporting leaders only when doing so serves their interests. The question is: what is peculiar about Gülen and his movement? Do Gülen and his followers recognize the Armenian genocide? Do Gulenists recognize the suffering of the Kurdish people? Do Gulenists tolerate anyone who speaks against them? Does Gülen consider atheists terrorists? Gulenists claim to be tolerant, but in the Hakan Fidan case, they were against the talks with the Kurds. They should be congratulating the AKP for talking to PKK. Why has the West not served notice on Gulenists for their machinations to incite hate by using their own strategy of law suits?
In summary, if Gülen represents love and tolerance, why does he curse the PKK and urge the Turkish government to kill all of them? If he does not represent these virtues, then what is so unique about him and his movement? Is their rise because they are really chosen by God, and thus they are always right and others are wrong? James Madison, the fourth American President said: “The best weapon of a dictatorship is secrecy, but the best weapon of a democracy should be weapons of openness.” All deceptions require secrecy and are the beginning of tyranny. If Gulenists do not have any secrets, then why are they so secretive? By definition, people are secretive when they hide secrets. If a student of truth takes the time to listen to Gulen’s earlier works, he will learn that they are full of anti-Israeli, anti-Christian, anti-Western rhetoric. Gulenists are losing all credibility by making spurious accusations against anyone who loves justice, who would love to see Turkey rule by democratic principles, and not by the ideologies of Gülen, and who would like to see the role of government be to defend the rights of all members of society equally, with no one being above the law, including Mr. Gülen and his followers.
I am for the uniting of all of us as a people, not as a follower of this group or that group. Everybody should be respected and trusted, not because they are a follower of Gülen, but because they are a human being created by God. If this is a fundamental truth, then why has the West not served notice on Gulenists for their machinations to incite hate by using their own strategy of lawsuits?
Dr. Aland Mizell is with the University of Mindanao School of Social Science, President of the MCI and a regular contributor to The Kurdistan Tribune, Kurdishaspect.com and Kurdish Media.You may email the author at:firstname.lastname@example.org