Turkish Muslim cleric and scholar Fethullah Gulen (I don’t know why the world skips his first name Muhammed) turns 81 years today, 27 April 2022, at his Saylorsburg exile residence in Pennsylvania where he has lived since 1999. One would wonder what sort of greetings card is appropriate for him.
Would it be one of Congratulations on attaining the age acclaimed in all the scriptures? Sympathy for the sort of life he has been subjected to? Or empathy due to about 80 of his kith and kin languishing Erdogan’s prisons simply because of the Gulen surname and hundreds of thousands Turkish people who have lost the source of livelihood due to Hizmet (Service) Movement ethics?
Interview with Kemal Gulen, Gulen’s nephew
Whether by plan or default, lawyer-cum-journalist nephew of Fethullah Gulen, Kemal Gulen, who fled to Canada three months after the mid-2016coup that was planned to fail, through a long interview with the Politurco online platform, expressed his share of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan endless torturous attack on Gulen and the family. Could this serve the purpose of the day?
Kemal, who was forced to take on odd jobs like white painting and whitewashing buildings for survival upon arrival in Canada, is just one member of the Gulen family. Lucky is he to have gone back to practicing. But the majority of Gulen’s relatives – however remote the relationship – have faced continuous Erdogan’s beyond explanation tortures.
To understand the fatal divide between Erdogan and Fethullah Gulen one has to go beyond the cooked coup curtain. Originally very close associates as they were via the Hizmet (service) Movement and what has turned out to be a pseudo Justice and Development (AKP) Party, their point of departure is divergent ethical stand.
While Erdogan can be traced to the December 17-25 2013 corruption investigation report embodying members of his family and close allies, meticulous Gulen, a professed Umari, has had no room for gratifying his relatives.
You cannot cook them in the same pot”
According to Kemal, Hodjaefendi (Gulen) upholds: “Hizmet is so innocent and pure that it does not bear to carry even the slightest stain. Such an act casts a shadow on a Movement favoured by multitudes.” In Africa we say: “Hawaivi” – contextual translation: “You cannot cook them in the same pot”. Gulen and Erdogan developed the same charge and have repelled ever since.
Their relationship can be likened to that of the Almighty God (the most Gracious, the ever Merciful for bestowing) and Lucifer (the King of Hell) – in which case Lucifer cannot spare even the heaven-destined unborn. This is why Erdogan has created an all-time hell on earth for all those related or perceived to be related to Gulen and respectful to Hizmet values.
Being Gulen’s relative in Turkey
Kemal writes: “… Naturally, being a relative of his was also hard… I still remember, there was my uncle’s house where my late grandmother lived. The police would enter with their shoes and ask her, “Where is your son?” And they would interrogate her. How often that happened, I lost count…. Being a relative of a wanted person is tough…
Don’t they say today, “if they are wanted, that means they sure have committed a crime”? Come on! If someone is guilty, what would his or her relatives have to do with a person’s offense? Yet, out of the ordinary, this is not the case… if someone is guilty, all their relatives are also guilty!” This is how we had to shutter our homes, because the authorities used him as an excuse to punish us. Our children had to go abroad, some are already in prisons. Although they put each one of them in prisons in the most remote corners of the country, thinking: ‘How more can we do harm to these people? They drag the women and children among prisons saying: “One week they will be in this city, the next week they will be transferred to another city, then in another city”.
No one from our relatives rebelled and did or say anything against public order. Those who inflict these hardships and cruelties do so with an extra effort to torture Hodjaefendi in particular.
All Gulen’s relatives in Turkey are in prison
According to Kemal, there is no one of Gulen’s first-degree relatives in Turkey who is not in prison today. “My brother served five years and just got out of prison. He came out, but there is still a Court of Appeals process or something. Did they commit any crime? No.
No one is guilty of any crime, but these relatives of Hodjaefendi who are not released even though they have served their sentences or those who were released and detained again after the prosecutor’s objection a week later, are oppressed this way to torture Hodjaefendi.
“If we do this, he will be shattered.” They try torture Hodjaefendi by arresting these people, not releasing them after their sentence, releasing them only to arrest them days later and prosecuting them with hefty sentences. Relatives suffer such hardships.
Even distant relatives of Gulen are not spared. Kemal says: “For example, my brother-in-law’s sister is still behind the bars. What does she have to do with this? Here she is still imprisoned because of being the sister of a member of Gulen family… this lady has nothing to do with anything. She is a tailor. She neither studied nor worked in Hizmet affiliated schools. With such oppression, the authorities think, “if we persecute his relatives, we will torture Hodjaefendi.
Of course, 81-year-old today Gulen feels sad. He grieves. He remains the weeping grandpa. Kemal says, he does everything he can, but never says: “They torture my relatives; my nephews and brothers; I should now bow down to these oppressors.”
Hodjaefendi has a long list of Erdogan regime tortured relatives. These include two brothers who used to work at a printing house. One of them, Kuthettin, has been in solitary confinement for years. Gulen has a brother who died incognito in the hiding. Someone offered to take care of his funeral. It is not possible to approach any state organ on constitutional rights of the deceased. In a way the Erdogan regime even detains the rights of the dead if you belong to Gulen.
In Africa we say: “Kagunju kula oliwambwa”—denoting a warning that every animal that touches the earth has to remember that the meat belongs to the dog, Has the Erdogan regime assigned itself properties of the African dog to claim the life and property of anyone related or perceived to belong to Gulen?
What has a beginning must have an end. Could this be one of the consolations of Gulen celebrating his 81st birthday today in grief and tears? I remember one Turkish girl child who told me through her father that Gulen was the crying grandpa. Who will wipe his tears? That is the question.