Turkish Connection II

26 04 2010

Based outside Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, Fethullah Gulen has established numerous institutes and forums around the United States. The Fethullah Gulen Community (FGC) is very active in Turkey and the United States as well as many other countries. He is listed by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre as number 13 of 500 of the world’s most influential Muslims.  If you do a Google search on him, you get well over a million results.

Gulen is the driving force behind Turkey’s “Justice and Development Party (AKP) which is transforming society and politics in Turkey at this very minute.  Both current Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tyyip Erdogen and President Abdullah Gul, a former Welfare Party member, are AKP members of which Erdogen is the chairman.  The AKP succeeded the Islamic Welfare Party (RP) which was broken up and banned by the government in 1998 for violating the constitution’s secularism principles. That’s when Fethullah fled to the US. He seems to have more power than ever now that AKP has become the elected majority party in Parliament  in 2007.

The Turkish military has always been used as the tempering factor in preserving the secularization of the government.  In February of 2010, forty nine officers were arrested on allegation of plotting a coup against the government. These included top brass, both retired and active duty generals and admirals, and other high level commanders. They were accused of planning to bomb historic mosques in Istanbul and shoot down its own planes in order to justify the coup, as laid out in a 5,000 page memo produced by their accusers.

When Soner Cagaptay, author and Director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, asked a former U.S. ambassador to Turkey for his views on this news, the ambassador thought the scenario was ridiculous. (See Cagaptays article at Foreign Policy magazine) It has become unpopular if not dangerous to verbalize opposition to the AKP or Fethullah Gulen in Turkey.

A BBC News website article about this “Ergenekon” conspiracy quotes Turkish news investigator Irfan Bozan for NTV News channel out of Istanbul as saying, “I think the government moved now to dirty these people’s names and reputations. It’s a warning that they’re under watch.” Bozan believes this is an attack on those who are anti-government.

Back in the United States, Gulen seems to be as available to high level American political and civic leaders as they are to him.  The Gulen Institute, Institute of Interfaith Dialog, Turquoise Center, and more locally the Raindrop Turkish Houses, along with others either directly or indirectly affiliated with Gulen have, as their apparent mission, to seek out leadership positions and officials at all levels of government and shape bonds of friendship and trust by providing a myriad of social functions from breakfasts to award dinners, to summit meeting with dignitaries and civil servants alike. One of the frequent provisions to these folks is the all expense paid trip to Turkey for the official and family members for a vacation of a lifetime. Some elected Kansas legislators recently returned from one such junket.

On the world stage, the Institute has hosted many high profile names such as James Baker, Kofi Annan, Madeline Albright, and received praise from Bill and Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and others.

FGC built and runs hundreds of schools and seven universities around the world. Just one phalanx of what is known as “education jihad”, these schools mainly focus on secondary and college level students, imposing and inciting discipline and good social order, (that’s all good, but…) all the while extolling the virtues of the Islamic religion. This is a calculated effort and will indeed have huge effects on American culture and society in a generation or two. There are currently 130 such schools inside the United States.

As one peruses the websites of the many FGC organizations, a few familiar phrases begin to surface. (Much like the new media these days seem to capture and repeat the same phrase or word such as “gravitas” over and over again.) I have heard these same phrases begin to emerge in just the last two or three years.

For example, “Social justice” is a phrase that began to get a lot of ‘speak’ leading up to and during the last Presidential election cycle and has been used by progressives since Woodrow Wilson. It is an ideology which has infiltrated American institutions from the schoolhouse to the church to the media. “Social justice” is one of the core values of Fethullah Gulen’s “Turkish Movement”. Stands to reason as this is one of the key principles of Islam. In case you’ve been living in the trunk of a Hemlock tree, “social justice” translates as “income and/or property redistribution”. How about that for a revelation? Now you know why Muslim’s vote Democrat.

Another phrase that is used continuously is “Interfaith Dialogue”. This one began to get air during the Bush administration post 9-1-1. In 2002 the Institute of Interfaith Dialog was established by Turkish Americans to “eliminate or reduce false stereotypes, prejudices and unjustified fears through direct human communication. Toward these goals the Institute organizes academic and grass roots activities such as conferences, panels, symposia, interfaith family dinners and cultural exchange trips. Many participants of the Institute’s activities are inspired by the discourse and pioneering dialogue initiatives of the Turkish Muslim scholar, writer and educator Fethullah Gulen.  Headquartered in Houston, Texas, the Institute has branch offices in five states and representatives throughout the South-Central United States.” (direct quote from IID website)

I have realized that this phrase “interfaith dialog” almost always translates, “Christians and Jews must accept the fact that Islam is the superior faith”.

More to come…

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