Deciphering the codes of the Gülenist Cult

ÖMER BAYKAL @omrbaykal85
Published 03.09.2016 00:00
Updated 03.09.2016 09:28
Deciphering the codes of the Gülenist Cult

The cult in parallel with Gülen's characteristics is neither open and nor transparent and entered politics under his directions

On the day of July 15, Turkish politics faced a coup attempt that it was familiar with but had not experienced for a long time. It is very clear that Fethullah Gülen, the leader of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), was the mastermind of the military junta movement. It is not so hard to say that for anyone who follows daily politics in Turkey. Now, there are some question marks about who let the military junta infiltrate the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK). The answer to the questions must be sought not only in the military but also in the bureaucracy, universities and most particularly in politics because no military interference can stage a coup in a country solely with its presence in the military. The Turkish people have experienced more than one coup attempt and know well that after coups, putschists have always given the government to its friends in other institutions in the country.

Ultimately, each coup or coup attempt historically accommodates a social class and also sits on a political discourse. The mechanism that points its weapon at an elected government and democracy does not act on its own. It must have ideological alliances in some networks. Today, we need to face militarism and the historically established tradition of coups in Turkish politics. Our main question should be: "What caused FETÖ and the coup?" When simple political work is done, it is not hard to find significant historical materials. At this point, we should seek answers to a few questions at a basic level. First of all, what caused such a coup to happen? What has FETÖ done? What are the codes of FETÖ?

As I noted in the article "Modernization process of junta in Turkish military," published in Daily Sabah on Aug. 15, political life has a powerful culture of juntas and coups. This activism is inherited from the time of the Ottoman Empire and it has damaged democratic politics at two points since the May 27 coup attempt in 1960.

Primarily, democratic life was unfortunately exposed to military intervention in a chronic way and the armed forces in the hierarchy or in groups tried to reform the political system every 10 years. The coups are the coup attempt by Talat Aydemir in 1962 and 1963, the Madanoğlu junta memorandum in 1971, the coup in 1982, Feb. 28 military intervention, the e-statement on April 27 and finally the deadly coup attempt on July 15 this year. The soldiers who do not allow the democratic system to consolidate itself pounded politics and politicians in the name of "the Kemalist restoration" periodically.

As there is no democratic strength against coups, politicians have made it a tradition. Because politicians know that the military cannot sustain intractable politics and need civilians to manage the country, they wait in silence for the day they will take over the task. On the second point, due to insecurity in the political system, democracy and public management, a custodial regime has been established for institutions. The Constitutional Court, the National Security Council and the military judiciary and the Supreme military council as custodial institutions have swung like a sword of Damocles over democracy in the context of the 1961 Constitution since the May 27 coup. The coup or senior government officials that controlled these institutions have executed a sultry interpretation of "state of mind" against democratic and civil politics in the name of Kemalist ideology's laicist, nationalist, militarist interpretation with a lot of confidence.

Today, "the rediscovery of secularism" and returning to "factory settings" are seen as remedies to what happened on July 15. The Gülen gang has a focus of worldly power, although it may seem like they are moving according to religion. They extended their existence into the ground as a result of the religion being suppressed by the Kemalist regime throughout history. It is a paramilitary structure that has worked for 40 years towards its own goals. Overlooking the Kemalist regime's distance from the idea of a democratic society as a big picture complicates the understanding of FETÖ. Nonetheless, Turkey is a very fertile land in terms of the sociology of religion. Various religious communities have represented "volks Islam" and continued their religious activities despite suppression. Some of their members have served in the public sector as a natural consequence of existence. But this case was a secondary result of the existence of religious structures. Even some groups, such as the Nur community pioneered by Bediüzzaman Said Nursi, distance themselves from politics and administration or civil service. In contrast, the Gülenist cult, which claims it follows the understanding of Said Nursi, has made politics and administration a basic target of their hidden strategies. At this point, analyzing the terrorist group and decoding its epistemological codes makes it easier to understand the strategy of the cult.


According to analysis by political observers, there are three important actors: first and most important, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the second is the convicted PKK terrorist group founder Abdullah Öcalan, and Fethullah Gülen, founder of the Gülen gang. President Erdoğan, a politician who rose up the ranks of Turkish politics, has won 10 elections in the last quarter-century. Öcalan is a Kurdish nationalist/Marxist hegemonic and transcendental person. Gülen is a self-exiled former imam who lives in rural Pennsylvania. To understand Gülen, we must look at him "from the outside." And by taking him off from a mere religious leader position, it is needed to look at power issues and concepts that put him at the center of politics.

The first point to be noted is that Gülen's personality is identified with the cult. The core of the selfish ideology of the group is based on Gülen's personality. In other words, the source of confidence in members of the cult comes from Gülen himself. The Gülenist cult has an intense hierarchical structure with Gülen at the top. But, as a result of huge ego, Gülen has never designed a parish to pass it on to the second guy. The cult will probably end with his death - a ticking time bomb. The horizontal relationship in the tradition of Risale-i Nur has given way to a vertical structure and the Gülenist cult organized through a corporative group. It has accommodated two characters, one of which is clear but the other is hidden. The most important feature of a two-faced character is reflected in this structure.

The group that shows high tolerance to the outside has been overwhelming different voices inside in a harsh way. In addition, it does not hesitate to use the most "vile" methods to eliminate people and institutions that are seen as a threat.

Although Gülen seems to distance himself from the rhetoric of politics, he has in fact been in the center of power. At this point, I would like to mention that we use the term power struggle as "power" in the context of the establishment of relations making reference to "Foucault". Foucault's conceptualization helps us to understand the practice of Gülen's politics more easily because power relationships are not transparent, open and at the macro level in the post-modern era. It has become pluralized and relational in any area where power descends to the micro level.

That is why when a field related to power occurs, the Gülenist cult shows a tendency to distort or ignore it or they try to infiltrate and contain. The most typical example: The group claims that they see sports and football as "earthy," but in fact it regards the Fenerbahçe football team and its president as powerful and tried to take them down, while the Gülenists use players of another football team, Galatasaray, for their various interests. At this point, the statements described below are the reasons for the Gülenist cult's infiltration. The cult wanted to create public opinion through media and also tried to influence the judiciary and non-governmental organizations as intellectual activity to influence the public due to the endless self-centered ideology of Gülen and his will.

The cult in parallel with his characteristics is not open and transparent and entered politics under Gülen's directions. For example, the cult has never been in a political party, but there have always been deputies in the "quota" from the party that is in conflict today. In the period of the power crisis with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), by leaving the ideological past to one side, they gave their votes to the nearest second party as a strategy in case the AK Party lost the election.

The major issue here is that the cult has never taken risks in order to enter politics. If the phrase is appropriate, the cult has always followed this strategy: "Drum on one's neck but the beetle in my hand." Hence, the political struggle is not transparent, competitive and public but anything that can be used is used to gain strength, using a Machiavellian approach.

At this point, the tradition of Risale-i Nur above-mentioned, which is related to put the distance to politics have already been forgotten as a fact that never been learned Because any value religious or secular is a tool of power for the cult..

FETÖ has been organizing for over 40 years in Turkey, primarily infiltrating the education system by stealing exam questions in every educational institution. This operation was carried out with great secrecy and was not leaked to the outside. This has always been a question mark for Islamic communities in Turkey: Gülen's statement shows us that it is not a functional but an ideological cult: "The presence of our friends in the courthouse, ownership or other vital institutions should not be evaluated in the form of individual obligations. These are our guarantee in the name of our unit in the future. Discover the tricks of the system in order to walk into the future." In the ultimate sense, the establishment of "power" relationships mentioned above, can be realized by guaranteeing "all units," according to Gülen.

Today, in the Republic of Turkey, 6,500 intelligence officers, over 7,000 and 74 provincial police chief over 81, the majority of members of the judiciary and the military were members of FETÖ. This shows that a large part of the strategy has been realized.

Therefore, today, the Gülenist cult has power (religious or secular, big or small) should be eliminated brutally. They have reached a large proportion of the capacity of routing the political field as well. To strengthen their power, the Gülenists organized in a hidden, hierarchical and strategic way - from education to the business world, from the bureaucracy to the academy, gaining wide legitimacy not only throughout the country but abroad, especially in the West. A simple but important question arises at this point. Why has the cult have done all of these things?

That first answer that came to mind was that they were against laicist Kemalist ideology. However, along with the decline of Kemalism and with the rise of the AK Party government, religious people can live their chosen way of life in the public sphere. This shows that the purpose of the cult is not to "maintain a religious identity." Therefore, we can say that all this is for a better future that is built by a little preacher in his "small world" (the name of the book prepared as a biographical interview with Gülen). In 1971, the photo taken in the house of Vehbi Koç, contains a historical reference in terms of time, place and person. There is Fethullah Gülen, Yaşar Tunagür, vice president of Religious Affairs, and Fuat Doğu, secretary of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) (see Latif Erdoğan's book, "Şeytanın Gülen Yüzü," Turkuvaz publishing, 2016). In the Cold War era, Gülen, who was considered a political project by some, used holy values as leverage for a political project. Followers who obey him unconditionally believe that their teacher ruled the world. To the contrary, their teachers have been used for political aims, and he will be placed on the door without hesitation when his operational use is completed.

* Ph.D. candidate at the Department of Political Science at Yıldız Technical University

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