Imam’s failed coup in Turkey: Why Gülen has dropped his humanist mask

By Dr. Aland Mizell:

Gülen and Erdogan

Gülen and Erdogan

In the past Turkey’s military junta would stage a coup and overthrow the democratically elected government, but now an imam is trying to overthrow the Prime Minister, who was elected by popular vote, along with his administration. The imam is using the military junta method in a coup d’ état by forcing a crisis of confidence. Simultaneously, the imam is attempting to create chaos, to sink the country’s economy by buying all the dollars in the Turkish market, and to slander the leaders by accusing the government of corruption and of not being democratic. Together with the imam, Prime Minister Erdogan and Foreign Minister Davudtoglu committed so many injustices that they are indebted to one another. Even Prime Minister Erdogan and Foreign Minister Davutoglu confessed saying, “We gave them (the Imam’s Mission organization) whatever they wanted.”

The self-exiled imam set up a state within a state in Turkey and now is plotting against the democratically elected government through his agents within the police, the judiciary, mayoral positions, governorships, and the media. The well-known cleric used Erdogan to legitimize his organization internationally, while Erdogan turned a blind eye to the imam’s activities within the police and judiciary, promoting his followers to key positions in the bureaucracy. Further, under his tutelage and manipulation of Erdogan, the religious leader’s mission organization further expanded its social, educational, cultural, and economic profile both domestically and internationally and gave the imam ‘s disciples diplomatic passports allowing them to travel abroad freely. Historically, Erdogan helped to eliminate any obstacle blocking the imam’s mission movement.

Domestically, the imam’s disciples and his media deceived Erdogan about the Kurdish Youth Movement, convincing him to close down all of the Kurdish Youth Movement (KCK) houses, linking them to a terrorist organization, and jailing many Kurdish politicians, academics, and journalists. In 2011, in a video message he called upon the Turkish military to attack Kurdish guerrillas: “Locate them, surround them, break up their units, let fire rain down upon their houses, drown out their lamentations with even more wails, cut of their roots and put an end to their cause.”  The charge shocked people, because they had to ask what kind of imam who advocates love, peace, and tolerance will call for hating and killing. But his admonition to kill the Kurds did not get much attention by the mainstream Turkish media, for which I am thankful. His hateful prayers were not answered. But this time when he gave the same hate speech to the Prime Minister calling Erdogan base names, the imam’s masks fell off, so that his ugly demand showed all humanity that this renowned cleric does not advocate, peace, tolerance, love, or dialogue, but he instead has a thirst for power and fame. True advocates of tolerance, love, peace, and dialogue will not lay a plot against another person.

The imam wanted to create division between President Gul and Prime Minister Erdogan. He knows that if he forms a political party, it will be the end of his mission organization, so instead he is trying to bring about Gul’s succession to Erdogan as the head of the Justice and Development Party, the AKP, and government. Why is the imam favoring Gul? Because President Gul is not a strong-willed and charismatic personality and will sheepishly follow the imam’s lead. The outcome depends on whether Gul can betray his long-term friendship with Prime Minister Erdogan.

In an interview he made with The Wall Street Journal from his castle in Pennsylvania, the imam accused Prime Minister Erdogan of abandoning the path of reform and democratic rules after Erdogan’s more than a decade in power. How ironic that Westerners, American academics, and liberals cannot see the reality of the imam and his shadowy mission organization. This cleric accused the Turkish Prime Minister of not being democrat, but he forgot that one of the principles of democracy is that people elect the leader; moreover, the Prime Minister was elected and can be ousted in an election. No one, by contrast, ever elected the imam although he aspires to wield as much power as the Prime Minister. To the point, if the imam wants to be involved in politics, he can go to Turkey and publically form a party with no need to divide society from the outside. Politicians are accountable to those who voted for them, and since no one voted for the imam, he does not have a right to remove the democratically elected person from power.

It is time for Washington and Western think tanks, the left and liberal media, as well as liberal religious groups and universities that have taken money from Gulenists to organize conferences to promote the imam, to think twice about how they got the imam so wrong. If academicians, the US government, and especially the State Department think and want to retain their core values, they should begin to reassess the past in terms of who got the imam right, who wrongly assessed his mission organization, and how they were so inaccurate and misled.

I wonder if Mr. Imam himself follows the rules and really believes in democracy. I wonder if he followed all the democratic rules to become one of the most powerful imams. I wonder how democratic he himself is. He claimed, “Turkish people are upset that in the last two years the democratic progress is now being reversed,“ but he fails to understand that he does not represent the Turkish society, and the Turkish people did not vote for him; therefore, he has no right to speak on behalf of all Turks, especially since the majority of the people in Turkey voted for the Prime Minister.

The imam should understand that those who are upset are his slaves and some die-hard secularists. Why does this religious leader not explain the appropriate relationship between bureaucrats and elected officials in a democracy? What is separation of powers or judicial independence? What is the appropriate relation between politics and religion? If he really wants to be involved, he should not hide behind his mask but rather publically come to Turkey and become active in politics; otherwise, it is not healthy for Turkey to have two masters. If Mr. Imam loves reforms and democracy, then why are he and his disciples against Prime Minister Erdogan’s making judicial reforms that eliminate the organized cliques’ manipulation of their powers to advance the imam ‘s ideology? The cleric should understand that in a democracy individual citizens are free to live according to their beliefs, and in a democracy an unaccountable theological vision must not be allowed to shape the bureaucrats’ behaviors. He should remember that civil servant organizations must be democratic. In his organization, one man rules with absolute power–authoritarian rule. Additionally, why is the organization so murky and secretive, because in a democracy everything must be transparent?

Civil service organizations must be transparent and not two-faced so they deceive the public. In the past, the imam claimed that he was not in charge of the movement, that he did not know the number of schools that he has around the world, and that he was not involved in politics. The imam and his disciples insisted that they have kept equal distance from every Turkish government, seeking no office and having no involvement in foreign powers. The truth is that at the beginning of Erdogan’s national political career the imam did support the AKP, and his media worked like it was owned by the AKP; however, recently he dropped his humanist mask and neutral principles to attempt the coup against the AKP and Erdogan to remove him from power.

However, he failed to bring it about because Erdogan acted quickly, and, most importantly, the Prime Minister knew everything about the imam, so that he could reveal the truth about the organization, its real goals and motives. However, neither the AKP nor the imam has tried to prevent the illegal activities. Gulenists and the AKP did breach the law and should be brought to justice. What Erdogan said about the imam and what the imam revealed about the AKP are true, but what they say about themselves, that they are the most honest and the most democratic, is not true. If they follow the Quran, which surely the imam reads, they know that Allah does not permit anyone to steal, to take or give a bribe, or to disregard the country’s laws. If stealing is crime, then is giving a bribe a crime as well? Why did the imam encourage his disciples to bribe politicians in Uzbekistan, so the government officials there would not close his schools because it might have had a domino effect and harm his schools in other countries?

Furthermore, the Islamic cleric and his disciples are paranoid, and they do not know what to do, so now they are trying to lure the West and the secular Republican People’s Party, CHP, to rescue them, but if the imam, the CHP, and the West continue to be allies, Erdogan will win the election. The Turkish people will not be fooled anymore because they have seen the imam‘s real face and consequently no longer believe his cries. For example, recently an audio recording of the imam, leaked on the internet, revealed his giving orders on tender dealings, on the direction of the money trafficking, and on his message to businessmen and media patrons. Of course, as usual, he used code names. One of the imam’s disciples in a call to him about Uganda’s refinery deals, said, “Sir, the Uganda President reported. There is a refinery deal. Shall we offer it to Koc?” The imam responded, “If it’s offered to someone who will do as we say, that would be better. Otherwise, we can offer it to them.” Also, the caller informed the imam’s businessman that he should make sure his media will not say any negative about the religious leader’s mission organization. “Sir, one of our major clients bought them (cash withdrawals from Bank Asya). If more is withdrawn, it will pressure the bank. What if we spoke to them duly?”  The imam asked, “The thing you have in possession (referring to the gold the movement has), will not work?” Further revealing the imam’s control, the caller continues, “We visited Turgay Ciner. He confirmed that nothing against our sir will be published in this newspaper.” The imam responded, “Very good. May god bless him.” These audio segments show the imam is a hundred percent in charge of the movement and that without his authorization and order nothing can be implemented. I have been writing for more than a decade, saying that this imam is the most authoritarian, one man rule anywhere, that he is power-thirsty, and that he wants everyone to obey him and be under his control. He does not accept any other ideas and is completely in charge of the organization and movement.

The Kurdish issue is one of the major issues that has dominated Turkish politics for more than three decades, because more than thirty thousand people have been killed. Prime Minister Erdogan tried to finish this conflict and ordered Turkish intelligence to negotiate between the government and Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Since the imam did not know what was going on between the Turkish intelligence and the PKK leaders, he could not infiltrate the Oslo talks between the government and the PKK.  The seemingly reclusive cleric and his organization, particularly his media, launched a smear campaign against Turkey’s national peace process projects that were started by Prime Minister Erdogan. What could be greater than stopping bloodshed? The imam’s solution to the Kurdish issue is to assimilate all the Kurds to believe his version of Islam or to kill all those who do not assimilate or follow his ideology. I do not understand what kind of person who advocates dialogue would encourage people to kill. So now, the imam and his disciples aim to create instability and chaos in Turkey in order to gain full power there. The imam and his disciples forget that the Kurdish issue is a human rights issue, not an economic issue.

His followers have a history of fabricating evidence and framing individuals they target. This imam is a very opportunistic person using people, and then once he gets what he wants from them, particularly if the person subsequently does not obey him, he excommunicates him. If Erdogan wins the election, it will mean the imam is finished. But if Erdogan does not succeed in the election, it will mean the AKP is finished. This power struggle will become more visible and more ugly in the coming months as the presidential term nears the end. The result of this power struggle will tell the future of Turkey. If Erdogan loses, that will mean that Turkey loses because Turkey is going to be run by one man named “Imam Gülen.“ Gülen, who is only interested in power and influence, does not understand tolerance, love, or peace; he does not care how he gets the power as long as he gets it, because every way is ethical for him. He dreams of a new age that will believe his version of Islam, the one that will dominate the world. For example, his pawns, the Abiler or elder brothers in the cemaat or community determine the daily routine, dictating when it is time to work, pray, and sleep; who the followers marry; who they do business with; who they vote for; and what they should read. They are guarded like they are in prison; they cannot read anything but the imams’ speeches and writings, which they read every morning and night. Gulenists are trained to hide their true motives. Gülen explained, “With the patience of a spider, we lay our web to wait for people to get caught in the web.”  The members have fewer freedoms in the organization but no friends outside of the organization. There are rules about not watching television programs or listening to music that contradicts Gülen’s ideology. That tells you how democratic this Islamic leader is and how democratic Turkey will be if Gülen or his disciples are in charge. When I say Gülen will be in charge, I am not saying he will be officially in charge, but without his opinion nothing will be implemented because his devotees think he is absolute righteous and obey whatever he dictates.

In conclusion, currently in Turkey, there is a state within a state. The Turkish Prime Minister called it “Parallel States.” Even Al-Jazeera reported that Gülen, “allegedly formed a ‘parallel state structure,’ and treacherously plotted against their national government in collaboration with foreign agents and the ‘interest-rate lobby.’” The imam’s last hate speech targeted Prime Minister Erdogan and in the process exposed Gülen’s mask and revealed his true motive and personality; as a result of that exposé, the imam lost the trust and sympathy of most of the Turkish people. The imam’s request was not granted but backfired, so now the government is revealing every dirty secret the imam has, and it is going after his nest inside the Turkish government, as well as his financial empire, domestically and internationally.

Either Gülen will finish Prime Minister Erdogan, or Prime Minister Erdogan will finish him. Even if the Prime Minister does not finish Gülen, the momentum definitely will have a domino effect on the imam’s mission organization internationally and domestically, because as of now, his many projects are on hold, because his cemaat or community is acting on paranoia and do not know what to do except to ask help from the European Union or to take refuge in the hardcore Turkish liberal party, the CHP, a risk for Gülen. The current struggle is not just about democracy or corruption; rather the current struggle is between Gülen and the Prime Minister and is about Turkey’s future. Those who love Turkey and want to have a democratic government should support Prime Minster Erdogan. It is not because Erdogan is the greatest Prime Minister but because he is better for Turkey and for the Middle East. If Gülen wins this battle, that will mean that Turkey will be ruled by one man and his ideology. Gülen’s followers serve only to bring the imam fame, trying to disseminate his particular Turkish version of Islam, working to make everybody believe him.

The Kurdish people should support Erodgan over Gülen, because the biggest obstacle to the Kurdish peace process is the imam and his disciples. As a result of this ongoing battle, Gülen has lost his legitimacy; therefore, he will return to Turkey and try to regain the Turkish people’s trust. The crisis, however, openly shows the imam’s thirst for power and fame. It also has brought division among his flock although an imam is supposed to be a uniting factor in society, not one who creates a divided society.  Until now, the Turkish people believed that the charismatic cleric exemplified spirituality, not dogmas, sects, or representation of power mongering armed with those dogmas. Many people now agree that Gülen frequently psychologically manipulates his membership to ensure conformity and control. People need strong leaders, but they must always be accountable to scriptures and to wise people.  We must allow individuals to be critical, to think for themselves, and to understand their principles freely apart from the dictates of any leader.

Dr. Aland Mizell is with the MCI and a regular contributor to The Kurdistan Tribune,, Mindanao Times and Kurdish Media.You may email the author 

6 Responses to Imam’s failed coup in Turkey: Why Gülen has dropped his humanist mask
  1. Kuvan Bamarny
    January 29, 2014 | 07:57

    There will be no end to these type of deceptive political games in Turkey or elsewhere.The kurdish issue must no be lost and forgoten within the confusing political games and arguments of Turkish political sides.Rights are rights and Kurdish rights must be met and recognized no matter who rules Turkey.

    • David
      January 29, 2014 | 13:30

      Kuvan: I agree with you about Kurdish rights must be recognized and if Kurds are united , they will get their rights because history is on their side now .

  2. Rawand
    January 29, 2014 | 21:48

    Both of them are Islamist-minded against Kurds. Erdogan in Tehran trying to retaliate against Obama for tainting his image as corrupt leaders.

  3. Rawand
    January 29, 2014 | 21:55

    Gülen and Erdog = Mohammad Morsi of Egypt. Deep inside both have Islamic agendas dreaming of No-Ottoman emperor. Partition the remnants of Turkey. Erdogan Islamic -oriented party poses immense threat to EU. Grant 25 million Kurds their rights.

  4. Matt
    January 30, 2014 | 13:32

    Gulen and his followers are big lie. They are biggest obstacle to Kurdish peace process. He has one solution, which is to assimilate all Kurds and make them to follow his cult doctrine. He is a dictator. Great article

  5. WS-BP
    February 1, 2014 | 10:21

    it is very nice article. it will be very good if somebody publish this article a in Turkish so that the turkish People see the true face of this man.His hatred towards Kurdish People and democracy can not be ignored.His sect is definitely dangerous for a civil society and kurdish People

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