by Daily Sabah with Agencies
Jul 22, 2016 12:00 am
The only thing that connects a 10-year-old boy from the southeastern city of Gaziantep to a 75-year-old retired imam living in a leafy neighborhood of Pennsylvania, United States is that both of them are named Fethullah. Nevertheless, Emir Sönmez, the boy's father, is so disgusted with the imam's actions that he is seeking a court order to change his son's name. After all, retired imam, Fethullah Gülen, is one of the most hated figures in Turkey today for his role in the recent failed coup attempt. Gülen, who was once the unassuming leader of a religious group, turned into an arch foe of Turkey after his followers waged a secret war against the state. Gülen is credited with two coup attempts against the government in 2013, but last week's foiled attempt was the first time that people linked to his Gülenist Terror Organization (FETÖ) openly tried to overthrow the elected government. Fethullah Sönmez's family is not alone in seeking a name change after the July 15 coup attempt. Since last Friday, several people named Fethullah have rushed to court houses to obtain a name change verdict.
Fethullah Üçüncü, 26, in the northwestern city of Kocaeli, says he is ashamed to be named Fethullah. The coffeehouse proprietor lists two reasons for the name as mocking from his friends and bearing the same name as the leader of a terrorist organization.
Mehmet Fethullah Erdoğan, 32, from the central city of Niğde, also bears the same last name as the country's president. He is looking to change his middle name from Fethullah to Efe, which means "swashbuckler." "I appealed to the court because I don't want to have the name of a terrorist," he told Doğan News Agency. "I discussed it with my family after people started making jokes and they approved it," he said. Gülen, who attracted the faithful to his movement during his tenure as an imam in western Turkey, was a beloved figure for many, but the immense clout of his movement turned it into a politically charged entity and, ultimately, into a terrorist organization accused of coup attempts, sham trials and a string of other crimes by his followers in law enforcement, the judiciary, the military and bureaucracy. "It was a mistake to name my son after him," Emir Sönmez told Ihlas News Agency. "I thought he was a man of faith. He tricked us to think he was a religious man," he said. "May God's curse befall them. You see, they killed innocent people," he added, referring to the civilians killed in the coup attempt.