TURKEY AT THE DAWN OF THE 21ST CENTURY: LANDMARKS FOR POLITICAL ISLAM

Nikolai KIREEV


Nikolai Kireev, Professor, Doctor of Economics, chief research associate, Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences (Moscow, Russia)


The events of 9/11 in the United States shook Turkey, a Muslim country with secular rule. The public was stunned by the sheer scope of the disaster and fanaticism and perfidy of those who organized and carried it out. On top of this it turned out that thousands of people were killed in the name and for the sake of Islam. While condemning the terrorist acts Turkey tried to find its place in the U.S.-initiated antiterrorist coalition. Prominent political scientists Sami Koen, Metin Toker, and Ali Birand wrote to Milliyet to express their satisfaction with the fact that when launching a war against the Taliban and al-Qa‘eda America appreciated Turkey’s position and encouraged its activities in the Middle East, the Caucasus, and Central Asia. They reminded the readers that Turkey had been maintaining close ties with General Rashid Doustom, had been prepared to contribute to a peace settlement in Georgia, etc. They also pointed out that the former American stake on “soft” Islamists in Turkey had proved erroneous and that the new U.S. leaders started talking about a Kemalist, secular model of power for the states of the above-mentioned regions.1

Yalçın Bayer wrote that while Ankara was prepared to act together with Washington in its antiterrorist struggle it should demand reciprocal moves: certain extremists and Islamic terrorists who lived in Europe, mainly in Germany, should be extradited to Turkey. He said that their largest organization Milli Görüs “three or four times a year was extorting zekiat (donations) from Turks to wage a jihad.” There are many mosques in Germany in which people are told: “Islam will never win without a jihad that will cleanse the world of the unfaithful.” The author also wrote: “Every year a huge number of Milli Görüs supporters flock to Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Chechnia, and Afghanistan.”2 T. Ozkan, Turkish journalist, referred to the Turkish intelligence when he wrote in Milliyet that back in 1999 terrorists had planned terrorist acts against the embassies of the United States, Britain, and Israel in Turkey, and that al-Qa‘eda agents had crossed the country on many occasions. According to the BBC Russian Service, information about Islamist plans to highjack a passenger aircraft in Turkey to destroy the Atatürk tomb had been intercepted even before 11 September.

Turkish sources of the 1990s reported that despite the fact that Turkey had been a secular state for a long time there was still soil for Islamic extremism in some of the country’s regions. In fact, Islamic extremists are guilty of numerous bloody crimes against active supporters of democracy and the country’s secular regime as well as against big Jewish businessmen. On 2 July, 1993 Islamic extremists burned a hotel in Sivas. Thirty-seven people (35 of them being burned alive) lost their lives. After many years of investigation the court ruled that the action “had been designed to liquidate the republic and the secular regime,” to discredit the views and actions of prominent humanist and writer Aziz Nesin who had arrived in the city to meet his readers. Leaflets that were distributed in great numbers at that time reminded people that some time earlier he had published extracts from Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses in one of the newspapers. The leaflets’ authors urged the faithful “to fight the Satan’s friends.” The court ruling said, in part: “Thirty-five people were dying in the flames to the accompaniment of Shari‘a slogans shouted by those savoring the sight. We have never seen anything like this in the Turkish Islamic history.” Thirty-three defendants were sentenced to death. The court proceedings dragged on for six years and eight months with interruptions. The sentence was passed after a third period of investigation.

It is for many years that the Turkish security bodies have been watching the Turkish branch of Hezbollah, a pro-Iranian Islamist organization. In the 1990s the Turkish media frequently reported about its activities in some of Turkey’s provinces, about its clandestine schools and summer camps in which children were offered military training and learned how to shoot.3 The pupils studied works by Iranian religious leaders, Imam Khomeini among them. In some places Hezbollah activists attracted supporters through the local mosques, publishing societies, and training courses for the youth that offered secondary and even higher education.4

Late in the 1990s this branch was especially active in the Diyarbakir Province. Those detained in connection with its activities were described as “intellectuals”: computer operators, teachers, and university students. The police seized a large amount of weapons, foreign currency, computers and books. There were cases when the branch members attacked the military, gendarmes, and state officials. The defendants were accused of assassinations, plotting against the constitutional order and planning to set up a Shari‘a state. Public prosecutors insisted on death sentences for the majority of the accused and long prison terms for the rest.5 In 1999 security services of the same province discovered that this Shari‘a terrorist organization was trying to reach Ankara, Istanbul, Izmir, Konya, and Adana.6 Hezbollah was also active in the Içel and Sakarya provinces.7

Certain terrorist groups are operating in the country as branches of Arabic armed structures. For example, the state security court in Ankara sentenced 23 people accused of setting up a terrorist organization Hizb ut-Tahrir to different terms of imprisonment.8 R. Aitufan, member of Kudus savascilar (Jerusalem Fighters), was accused of assassination of prominent politician and publicist writer Ahmed Taner Kislali. Public prosecution demanded death sentence for him and up to five years in prison for four of his accomplices.9

* * *

There are al-Qa‘eda members among Islamic extremists in the Turkish diaspora in Europe. Its more than 3 million members are scattered across the continent, 2 million of them live in Germany. There are also those who follow Cemaleddin Kaplan or belong to Milli Görüs (MG) and other organizations.

Until recently the MG Islamist movement headed by Necmettin Erbakan enjoyed the greatest influence in the system of political Islam in Turkey and among the Muslims of Turkish origin living in Europe. Its activists used the democratic regimes to form one of the largest, the most influential and richest Islamist organizations. It is its leaders that Turkey most frequently accuses of crimes and terrorist acts.

On 3 September, 2000 Cumhuriyet described the MG far-reaching activities: it has camps and schools in 252 European cities, mainly in Germany, in which 14 thou pupils learn the Shari‘a. The newspaper quoted certain Muslims as saying: “Since the movement appeared it has been disseminating Islam that is not true Islam. It is exploiting feelings of the faithful, extolling money from them, manipulating with children’s minds and, while holding forth about religion, is sowing lack of faith; they venerate Erbakan and while talking about peace teach children to fight.”10

In his book Söner Yalçın, a Turkish author, quotes a long list of MG-controlled firms active in publishing in Europe, producing videocassettes and CDs, involved in food industry and building and organizing hajj. He says that their turnover reaches billions of deutsche marks part of which goes as large donations to election campaigns, that they closely cooperate with Arab building firms in Britain, Belgium, and the Netherlands, and that they run numerous religious courses at mosques.11

Cemaleddin Kaplan, a theologian employed by the Department of Religious Affairs, who later became mufti of Adana, at first sided with Erbakan in Europe. In 1985 he set up another, even more radical organization called the Union of Islamic Communities and Societies. Money was one of the reasons of divorce: Kaplan wanted to know how Erbakan spent the money collected among the European Muslims. Those who followed Kaplan in Europe “aspired to emulate the Iranian revolutionaries” and turned the mosques into headquarters of a future Islamic state. They “were building more and more mosques… The same trend can be observed in mosques in Turkey.”12 In April 1992 they announced that they formed a so-called Anatolian Federal Islamic State (AFİD, Anadolu Federe Islam Devleti) opposed to the country’s secular regime. In the 1990s Kaplan’s followers were subjected to police operations and court proceedings.13 Shortly before his assassination democratic publicist writer Ugur Mumcu described his talk with Kaplan in his book Rabita: “‘An Islamic state is our aim,’ said Kaplan, ‘our power belongs to Allah; our constitution is the Koran… Turkey is Mecca of our days.’”14

Upon Kaplan’s death his son Metin continues his activities. In 1998, by the 75th anniversary of the Republic of Turkey his organization planned terrorist acts and called on the nation to rebel against the authorities. In 1999 he was imprisoned in Germany for four years. Germany refused to extradite him to Turkey because he would face the threat of death sentence there. It was at that time that his contacts with al-Qa‘eda became known. After 11 September, 2001 the Turkish media wrote that since in the two and a half years of his imprisonment Metin Kaplan had been an exemplary prisoner he might be set free in November.15

In the wake of the events of 11 September, 2001 German authorities closed down a Turkish TV station set up by C. Kaplan in his time for its subversive activity in relation to Turkey. The Minister of the Interior of the Northern Rhine-Westphalia Province pointed out that the majority of its Muslims were law-abiding citizens and that some of the Turkish organizations (set up by Kaplan) could be banned. MG was called “the most dangerous” of them.16 In Turkey its activists never abandoned the hope to create a legal political party. In 1970 the National Order Party was set up to be closed soon after by the Constitutional Court: its ideology contradicted the country’s constitution. There were other Islamist parties with similar ideologies and the same leaders headed by Erbakan. They enjoyed voters’ support and were junior partners in several coalition governments. The Refah (Welfare) Party Erbakan created in 1983 won parliamentary majority in 1995 but failed to form a coalition government because of opposition of the military. In 1996-1997 it finally managed to form a cabinet. Supported by some of the state officials and members of parliament, Erbakan launched a more open and insistent campaign in favor of the Shari‘a, organized mass rallies in its support and secret meetings of Islamists. The secular elite never tired of rebuffing these actions: in February 1998 the Constitutional Court banned the Welfare Party thus depriving Erbakan and his closest allies of the right to continue political activities. There were attempts, some of them successful, others not, to remove supporters of MG and other Islamist trends from state structures, the army and educational sphere and to check what religious foundations were doing, etc.

The Fazilet (Virtue) Party under Recai Kutan that replaced the Welfare Party looked at Erbakan as its spiritual leader, yet came the third in the 1999 presidential elections. The judiciary started court proceedings against the newly formed party. Late in September 1998 Recep Tayyip Erdogan, one of its leaders, a former member of the Welfare Party who did not belong to the Erbakan clan, and chairman of the municipal council of Greater Istanbul since 1994, was sent to prison for 10 months. He was accused of violating, on 6 December, 1997, one of the articles of the Criminal Code that bans all calls to “hatred and enmity.”17 The Virtue Party proved to be the last to have the monopoly on political Islam in Turkey: in June 2001 it was closed by a Constitutional Court decision. In the parliament and outside it its supporters split into the “traditionalists” with Kutan as their leader and “renovationists” headed by Erdogan. They created parties of their own: Saadet (Happiness) and the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi—AK), respectively.

The AK program showed, in particular, that its leaders intended to use peaceful political methods to combine Islam and democracy. The program says: “The religious factor is a force designed to consolidate society rather than to split it,” the party announced that it wanted to create a “democratic, secular, socially-oriented state ruled by law,” that “all state structures” should move in this direction while “the state should remain neutral in relation to all religious beliefs and philosophical ideas.” It also proclaimed that the principles of freedom and secularism should control power rather than an individual, that each citizen had the right to select either religious or secular education, parents and guardians making this decision for their children; that political parties could be banned according to international legal principles and, first and foremost, by the decisions of the European Human Rights Court.18

Many of the Turkish newspapers forecasted the party a victory at the parliamentary elections of 3 November, 2002. They expected protest voting and had to admit: “The coalition government set up after the 1999 elections to fight poverty and corruption failed to do both. The republic was hit by an economic crisis, the hardest in its history. Millions became destitute…”19 The AK party won 363 seats out of the total 550 and formed a one-party cabinet. Under Art 76 of the Constitution Erdogan did not run for the parliament because of his previous criminal record. The post of prime minister went to Abdullah Gül (born in 1950), his close associate and an Istanbul University (Economics Department) graduate. In the past he was among the leaders of both the Welfare and the Virtue parties.

The media described the program he presented to the Mejlis on 26 November as a reformist one. It promised to adopt a new liberal constitution as a cornerstone of a state ruled by law. It also pointed out that the government regarded the EU membership as its main task; that Turkey should join international antiterrorist struggle; that cooperation with the United States in the sphere of economy, investments, science and technology was of special importance. It also mentioned “cooperation with the Russian Federation within the framework of good-neighborly relations and with the Central Asian and Caucasian countries within the framework of cultural affinity.”20

Before and after the elections the journalists wanted to know whether the AK leaders had abandoned the MG ideology that had nothing to do with “soft Islam.” Before the elections Erdogan skillfully parried all attempts to clarify his position. This was quite understandable: “He continued supporting MG but could not say so openly lest to damage the election prospects.”21 According to Cumhuriyet, “the majority cannot trust the party that used the Shari‘a as its political banner.” Its observer O. Çalışlar wrote: “Erdogan has distanced himself from Erbakan’s conservatism, spoke in milder tones and subdued his Islamic rhetoric. The election results, however, testify that the modernization process is still accompanied by political Islam even if in its soft variant.”22 The Zaman newspaper also pointed out that the AK parties inherited the MG traditions: “About 70 percent of the votes cast for it came from those who supported the Welfare Party. Under all circumstances the AK will follow the road together with the traditional MG actors.”23

After the elections, when speaking over TV N. Erbakan, the recent political patron of AK and its leaders, reminded them that the party had won because of the MG movement and therefore should always bear in mind the latter’s aims, otherwise the newly formed government would suffer the fate of the previous cabinet. He added that Ecevit had been brought to power by massive vote and lost his power when he forgot his election promises.24

Later, Milli Gazete, the newspaper of the MG movement, carried an article by Mehmet Sevket Eygi who wrote that the Western leaders, Americans in the first place, cordially treated Erdogan and met him at the steps of their residences because they expected certain concessions from the country such as: support for the war against Iraq, transfer of Cyprus to the local Greeks, continued confrontation with the Arab world, an alliance with Israel, etc. Mehmet Sevket Eygi was convinced that the West looked at “soft Islam” as an instrument to be applied to the Muslim world to secure its own aims.25 The Turkish government admits that being tied hand and foot by the country’s financial and military obligations to the United States it is unable to oppose a war in Iraq.

When looking at what is going on in MG, one should say that in the post-11 September world the movement or at least those who call themselves “renovationists” selected a new tactics: a gradual drift toward “soft Islam” while avoiding everything that can be classed as extremism. This will help Turkey join the EU, protect the Islamists against insistent control of the military, earn wider support in the West, especially among the human rights activists. It has become clear, however, that the AK leaders had no intention to abandon certain measures designed to demonstrate their “special” loyalty to Islam: the top military were informed that persecution of the officers who betrayed their bias to the Shari‘a should be better stopped; there are plans to reform the Higher Education Council “not for the sake of more democracy in the council and the universities or their greater autonomy and modern structure… This is a skillfully camouflaged aim of placing the universities under AK total control so that to staff them with obedient lecturers and turn them into a sort of madrasah.”26

* * *

Turkey has already mastered another variant of “soft Islam”—a religious community headed by Fethullah Gülen. While doing its best to avoid judicial persecution for its illegal acts, the movement has accumulated a vast body of experience of “soft” activity in Turkey and outside it. It is considered to be a variant of the Nur movement (a religious movement started by Kurd Said-i Nursi, 1873-1960) who called on the Kurds to unite into an Islamic brotherhood and who spent many years in prisons and exile for his calls to replace the secular (Kemalist) regime with the Shari‘a.

The CIS states should display more interest in this movement: while being known in many countries it actively manifests itself in Russia and other CIS states: it has already set up an educational network that embraces various educational levels and publishes literature that disseminates the movement’s ideas and Fethullah Gülen’s views and opinions. When describing how Gülen’s supporters appeared in the Soviet Union, Hulusi Turgut, one of his apologists, wrote that as soon as it had become known that the Berlin Wall fell Gülen went to the Suleymaniye Mosque, one of the most popular ones in Istanbul, and addressed the crowd with the call “to imbibe the problems of independence” posed to the people of the disintegrating Soviet Union.27 The prospects of missionary activities in Eurasia with many-million Muslim population (the bulk of which was Turkic) gave Gülen a chance “to serve the nation and Islam” and to avoid the threat of criminal persecution in Turkey: by that time the security structures had accumulated enough information about his anti-constitutional activities in Turkey.28

On 11 January, 1990 the first group of Islamist missionaries crossed the border into Georgia at Sarpy, visited Adzharia and Tbilisi. It was warmly received everywhere. In May the second mission of 37 set on the road by several cars and a bus loaded with books, videocassettes and other presents. It visited Batumi, Tbilisi, Kazan, Ganca, Baku, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan. This was how Gülen’s community started its missionary activities in Central Asia and the Muslim Turkic regions of Russia (the Northern Caucasus, Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Moscow, St. Petersburg, and elsewhere).29

Turkish publications wrote that since that time the Turkish companies controlled by Gülen’s community had set up a School Empire comprising training centers in Iakutia, Tuva, Khakassia, Bashkortostan, Chuvashia, Tatarstan, Daghestan, and Moscow as well as in Central Asia, Azerbaijan, Rumania, Moldova, Albania, Ukraine (including the Crimea), and in other countries. Faik Bulut who confirmed this information has written that their curricula are of a secular nature and that the schools provide other “invisible” services: “After school hours they offer religious education and conduct propaganda in favor of the community. The larger part of recommended reading is books on the Shari‘a. In Turkey the community sees liquidation of the secular rule as its long-term aim.”30

The Zaman newspaper published by Gülen in Turkey where it has a wide circulation came out every week in Moscow, Kazan, Ufa and other cities. Its Moscow version did a lot to popularize Gülen: one of the June 1998 issues carried his four-page long interview in Turkish with five photos of the leader. The Russian pages of the same issue told a story of a man who dedicated his life to charity, piety and “service to all people irrespective of their faith, race or language.” It spoke of Fethullah Gülen, “philosopher and a wise man.”31

An unsigned preface to the Russian edition of one of Gülen’s books published in Moscow in 2001 in Russian is written in the same vein. It says nothing about court cases against Gülen in Turkey, sharp discussions in Turkish society about what his community is doing in Russia and Central Asia. It says instead that he “has millions of followers all over the world,” that “academics and intellectuals in Turkey have recognized Gülen, directly or indirectly, as one of the most influential thinkers and writers of the 20th century.” The preface also says what Gülen expects of the 21st century: “This will be a century of tolerance and mutual understanding that will lead to cooperation among human civilizations and to their unification. He is convinced that spirituality will win on the way to a dialog among civilizations based on mutual interests.”

There is no doubt that such expectations are important for Russia, a country of many ethnoses, cultures and religions. Regrettably, the following words of Gülen’s hardly speak of a “dialog among civilizations”: “All forms of divine service of this religion (Islam.—N.K.) contain hundreds of boons; in other words, its form of divine service corresponds to a mature and developed society. As for the other religions, I can say that time has distorted them all and that they lost their original image. Even if they were not distorted, they are not valid because Allah confirmed the religion He found good and said that it was Islam.”32 Obviously, the above leaves no place for other religions the very existence of which in the 21st century is totally excluded.

When the Soviet Union fell apart, it became absolutely clear that the cultural activities of Turkish political Islam (sometimes combined with Pan-Turkism) was beamed at the Turkish Muslim nations. Its missionaries are preaching Islamism combined with Pan-Turkism (Pan-Turanism) that offers no options (see the above quotation) yet is presented as a “soft” variant. They believe that separatist ideas should be openly disseminated in Russia while in Central Asia the religious opposition to the secular regimes should be encouraged. This completely coincides with the ideas of official Turkish organizations dealing with the same issues. One of the documents within the current eighth five-year plan of Turkey deals with its relations with the Turkic and other countries of the region and speaks of the tasks in the religious sphere: “Thanks to its secular and democratic regime Turkey can offer its own model, it can further support the theological colleges and departments already functioning in Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Daghestan, and Nakhichevan.”

Its authors are convinced that this initiative will help unite the “Turkic tribes” into a single Turkish nation within the single religion: “Dissemination of the same faith in all republics will greatly contribute to the region’s unification and a transfer from tribal differences to a nation… It is a commonly known fact that the religious culture of Anatolia was created by the adepts of the idea of Turkestan. Today, it is Anatolia that should introduce its religious culture to Turkestan.” As for the Russian Federation, the document said: “Missionary activities oriented to our tribesmen in Russia’s autonomous regions and republics are going on and will become more active.”33

The Russian media wrote that certain “charitable” Turkish organizations, including religious organizations, were encouraging separatism in Russia; they mentioned certain educational establishments that planted “pro-Turkish orientation” in the heads of young people: “There were 10 of them in Tatarstan; four in Bashkortostan; three in Daghestan while Chuvashia, Karachaevo-Cherkessia, Tuva, Iakutia, and Khakassia had one each. Recently, 14 Turkish citizens were deported from Daghestan alone for anti-Russian activities. Ten of them taught in local colleges. Ten more people were deported from Karachaevo-Cherkessia.” In this connection the media mentioned Serhat, a firm headed by Gülen and Mustafa Kara. The Turkish colleges of Tatarstan “do not teach the history of World War II or the reforms of Peter the Great or other subjects of Russia’s history.” Instead, much attention is given to the history of Turkey.

Those who wrote about this were very much concerned with the “corruption” encouraged by rich “cultural workers” who had installed themselves in Russia and represented by far the richest or most developed country. Newspapers wrote: “To obtain licenses and other necessary papers from the local educational structures many colleges respond with varied services ranging from holidays in Antalya to royalties.34

The Turkish public treats Gülen’s activity at home with a great deal of reservation: criticism in numerous books, articles and the Internet has not been eclipsed by promotion and self-promotion of the community’s religious and cultural activities and information about Gülen’s meetings with the Pope, Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew, with prominent foreign and Turkish public figures that can be found in his Internet site. Late in 1994 the left center and secular intellectuals objected to the contacts of the then Premier Tansu Çiller with Gülen. Milliyet carried information about an unprecedented reception given to Gülen in the official government residence. The talk started with a question about his attitude to Atatürk. The short answer: “We have nothing against him” seemed to satisfy Çiller. The newspaper was convinced that this fact “legalized Gülen and his supporters.”35 In his book Ordu ve Din (The Army and Islam) Faik Bulut quoted protocols of interrogation of those who in the 1970s-1980s were drawn into Nur anti-constitutional activities. The documents described Hoja Fethullah as an active proponent of Nur movement and the Shari‘a.36 In his work Turkiye’de Din Teroru (Religious Terror in Turkey) Sara Gül Turan has said that the followers of Said-i Nursi tried to “reform the regime from inside” by gradually introducing in it “their people” while Gülen’s community was the most influential organization engaged in these activities.37 In his book Şeriatı Beklerken (Waiting for the Shari‘a) Erbil Tuşalp insists that early in the 1990s the United States tried to export to Turkey the “soft Islam” theory and invited the Gülen’s community to help it.38

Cumhuriyet also paid attention to Gülen’s recent past. It reminded its readers that in 1971 the Izmir national security court had sentenced him to three years in prison for his activity designed to set up a religious state in Turkey. According to the national security services, in April 1980 he informed a meeting of the local Nur community that active steps would be taken in the nearest future, that leaders had been appointed in nearly all provinces and that there would be developments similar to those in Iran. On 13 September, 1980 the military tried to detain him once more and failed. He remained in the list of “wanted.” In 1986 he was arrested and set free thanks to intercession of top officials.39

According to the same newspaper, the so-called Western Work Group set up on the initiative of the military submitted a report about Gülen’s activities that described him and his supporters as people “who exploit the religion and conceal their rejection of the republic under visible softness.” The report wrote about the community as “dangerous” for the secular republic and described its leaders as cautious people with a great deal of self-control. The newspaper concluded that “in a veiled form Gülen was rejecting the republic” and spoke about “a religious state” as a long-term task of the Turkish society. The newspaper continued: “Gülen’s supporters became an influential force in the security structures… One can discern a clear plan of turning the police into a force opposing the army. The report said, among other things, that Fethullah Gülen exploited the possibilities offered by democracy to plant his people on all levels of the state mechanism to liquidate the principles and reforms of Atatürk; his aim is to set up a state based on the principles of the Shari‘a. A World Turkic-Islamic Alliance is a more distant aim.”40

Kemal Yavuz, former General Secretary of the National Security Council of Turkey, has the following to say about Gülen’s community activity on the post-Soviet expanse: “I cannot agree to the fact that while my children are deprived of education, in Central Asia education is up to the mark. Why does my child have no chance to learn the Independence March since there are no schools or teachers in Kars, Palu and Bingel while Russian children in St. Petersburg are taught it?”41

In fall 2000 the military and the judicial power of Turkey opened investigation of Gülen’s activities. On 30 August, 2000 at an official reception General Huseyin Kivrikoglu, Chief of the General Staff of the Turkish Armed Forces, produced a sensation by publicly demanding that Gülen should be brought to court for his anti-constitutional activities. On the next day Public Prosecutor Yuksel argued in a 79-page indictment in relation to Gülen. An action was instituted in absentia since Gülen had spent the last eighteen months in a hospital in the United States.

The document insisted that Gülen, “with the help of people trained and educated in schools, boarding schools and courses he himself owned planned to reject Atatürk’s principles, liquidate the secular republic, and create a Shari‘a-based state.” The document mentioned that Gülen’s group penetrated deep into the armed forces. The public prosecutor also presented materials about the contents of the videos and education efforts in Central Asia, about the group’s penetration into the military Maltepe College, state organizations, including the structures of education and security. The document said that the community was in control of 88 funds, 20 societies, 128 private schools, 218 firms, 129 training courses, boarding schools, 17 publications, a newspaper with a circulation of 250 thou copies, the TV channel, two radio stations that covered the entire country, a financial organization that gave interest-free loans, and an insurance society. Since 1992 the community has set up six higher educational establishments, 236 colleges, two primary schools, etc. in 35 countries with an aim of training administration for each of the states involved, to ensure their benevolent treatment of Turkey in future which, by that time, would have become an Islamic state. The indictment concluded that under Art 7.1 of the Law on Anti-Terrorist Struggle Gülen should be imprisoned from 5 to 10 years for having established an organization with an aim of replacing the republic’s secular regime with a religious one.42

According to vast information collected by the media after this event, it turned out that “the schools abroad worsened the relations of Turkey especially with Uzbekistan, that none of the schools was registered in Gülen’s name, that they are run by the corresponding states, that control in them, including the schools in the Turkic republics, was impossible—the right of control belonged to the local authorities, that the government of Uzbekistan closed down all schools, in the first place, those opened by Iran and Fethullah Gülen, the Turkish attaché for education was extradited while all Uzbek students called back from Turkey.”43 In fall 2000 President of Turkey Ahmet Necdet Sezer while describing his tour of the Turkic republics said: “I suggested that the schools functioning there be replaced with schools in the name of the Turkish state. This was positively accepted.”44

In conclusion I can repeat everything that I have said above: after the tragic events carried out in the name of Islam, political Islam in Turkey will do its best to pass for “soft” Islam. This is obvious from what Gülen is saying which sounds much better than Erbakan’s outspoken statements. His example might inspire the pro-Islamic AK party especially now when it came to power in a democratic manner. Future alone will show what its real ideological aims are: will Islam remain a religion in secular Turkey or will it be used to establish a totalitarian regime and replace the secular laws with the Shari‘a?


1 See: Milliyet, 29 September, 2001.
2 Hürriyet, 22 September, 2001.
3 See: Faik Bulut, Ordu ve Din. Asker gözüyle İslamcı Faaliyetler, Istanbul, 1995, pp. 338-395.
4 See: Yeni Yüzyıl, 20 April, 1998.
5 See: Cumhuriyet, 8 September, 12 September and 14 September, 2000; Sabah, 13 October, 2000.
6 See: Cumhuriyet, 28 May, 1999.
7 See: Cumhuriyet, 8 September and 10 September, 2000.
8 See: Milliyet, 29 August, 2000.
9 See: Sabah, 13 October, 2000.
10 Cumhuriyet, 3 September, 2000.
11 See: Söner Yalçın, Hangi Erbakan, Ankara, 1995, p. 387.
12 Doğan Duman, Demokrasi sürecinde Türkiye’de İslamcılık, İzmir, 1997, p. 365.
13 See: Faik Bulut, op. cit., p. 227.
14 Sara Gül Turan, Türkiye’de Din Terörü, İzmir, 1996, pp. 113-117.
15 See: Hürriyet, 7 October, 2001.
16 Hürriyet, 22 September, 2001.
17 Sabah, 24 September, 1998.
18 See: [http://www.akparti.org/ilkeler/index.php].
19 Milliyet, 4 August, 2002.
20 See: [www.basbakanlık.gov.tr/].
21 Sabah, 7 August, 2001.
22 Cumhuriyet, 6 November, 2002.
23 Zaman, 24 July, 2002.
24 See: Milli Gazete, 30 November, 2002.
25 See: Milli Gazete, 26 December, 2002.
26 Milliyet, 14 January, 2003.
27 See: Yeni Yüzyıl, 14 January, 1998.
28 See: Faik Bulut, op. cit., pp. 263-337.
29 See: Yeni Yüzyıl, 14 January, 1998.
30 Faik Bulut, Tarikat Sermayesinin Yükselişi. 2 basım, Dopuk Publishers, Istanbul, 1997, pp. 291-293.
31 Vremia-Zaman. Mezhdunarodnaia gazeta (Moscow), No. 21, 1998.
32 Muhammed Fethullah Gülen, Somnenia, porozhdennye vekom, Vol. 2, OOO Simpati, Moscow, 2001, pp. 6, 10, 54.
33 Türkiye ile Türk Cumhuriyetleri ve bölge ülkeleri ilişkileri Özel İhtisas Komisyonu Raporu, Ankara, 2000, pp. 283-285.
34 See: Rossia (Moscow), 11 April, 2001.
35 Milliyet, 13 December, 1994.
36 See: Faik Bulut, Ordu ve Din, pp. 301-318.
37 See: Sara Gül Turan, op. cit., pp. 105, 107-108.
38 See: Erbil Tuşalp, Şeriatı Beklerken, Istanbul, 1996, pp. 119-122, 130, 260.
39 See: Cumhuriyet, 2 April, 1998.
40 Cumhuriyet, 30 March, 1998.
41 Radıkal, 21 March, 1998.
42 See: Cumhuriyet, 1 September, 2000.
43 Cumhuriyet, 3 September, 2000.
44 Radıkal, 25 October, 2000.

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