Protesters want Turkish Islamic cleric ousted

bildePocono Record, By Jenna Ebersole:

Protesters waved Turkish and American flags, chanted and played Turkish songs Saturday afternoon at a second peaceful protest this summer against Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen in Saylorsburg.

But this time, rather than scrambling for a place to stand after police told them they could not block Mount Eaton Road in July, protesters’ plans were more sophisticated.

A sound system and stage area gave speakers a platform, while portable toilets and coolers of soda for sale were available on the same field where they held their last protest several miles from the retreat center where Gülen lives.

Gülen has made his home in the Poconos since the 1990s and is a controversial, but well-known figure in Turkey. Supporters say he promotes living in harmony with people of different faiths and has inspired people around the globe, while critics treat his “movement” with suspicion.

The property owner at T&R Farm Shack declined comment Saturday, but representatives collected $10 per car and directed traffic as more than 100 protesters filed into the area with the enthusiasm they also brought in July.

Most of the protesters were Turkish American and many wore shirts with the Turkish flag and depictions of national secular hero Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

The protesters repeated earlier accusations against Gülen, arguing that he is connected to the government now leading Turkey and is seeking to Islamicize the country. Speakers also discussed charter schools affiliated with the movement across the U.S. and said Gülen is using American tax money to spread his message.

Umit Dikkaya came from New York City and joined friends. She wore a shirt proclaiming that she is proud to be from Turkey.

“We’re here to expose the reality about this Gülen movement,” she said.

Retired Admiral Turker Erturk came to speak from Istanbul and said he wanted to be part of the peaceful protest.

“I think our mission is to send a real message to the American people,” he said, exposing Gülen.

He spoke to the crowd, leading a chant of “We are Mustafa Kemal’s soldiers.” Attendee Sevtap Schreffler, from Washington D.C., translated his words and said the chant references Atatürk but demonstrates solidarity with all who fight for democracy.

A tattoo of Atatürk’s signature decorated Schreffler’s arm. She said to her, Atatürk represents freedom of religion and feminism.

“Gülen hates Atatürk,” she said. “They want to do away with everything he did.”

Representatives for Gülen released statements Saturday, once again countering each accusation and calling Erturk a well-known Communist in Turkey.

Sharon Higgins, of California, told protesters she has done extensive research on Gülen-affiliated charter schools in the U.S. She has said she favors public school districts against the privitization of education with charter schools.

The statement from the center said the schools are not religious and each began as an individual grassroots effort.

At the protest, Turgut Gozlev wore elaborate clothing and walked quietly with a large flag. He smoked a cigar while explaining he was born in Istanbul, but has lived in the U.S. for 45 years. He came from Philadelphia for the protest and said Gülen must go.

“I do miss Turkey,” he said. But, “this is my country. My children were born here.”

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Why Does Obama Idolize Turkey’s Racist Prime Minister?

Prime_Minister_of_Turkey_Recep_Tayyip_Erdogan-300x213By Barry Rubin:

Revolutionary Islamism is an innately anti-American and racist doctrine. Usually this manifests as anti-Semitic or anti-Christian views (since in the case of Islam, religion now seems to have been reintepreted as race when convenient), yet sometimes it arises in different but not highly publicized examples — such as with the racism employed against Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Palestinian and other Arabic newspaper cartons.

President Barack Obama has endlessly flattered the radical Turkish leader Recep Erdogan, ignoring his insults and his subversion of U.S. interests. Obama presents Erdogan as his ideal Middle East leader, a “moderate Islamist,” and Obama has turned over U.S. Syria policy to Turkish regime direction.

This is despite the fact that the increasingly repressive Erdogan has publicly blamed the opposition to him on … a Jewish plot. Perhaps with the U.S. government supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, anti-Semitism is no longer a detriment to Obama administration backing.

But what does Erdogan really think of Obama?

Despite Obama’s pro-Islamist policy, Erdogan now is blaming him for the fall of Egypt’s government. As is customary, every Tuesday Erdogan addresses his AKP party group in the parliament. As usual, part of his speech was devoted to ridiculing Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the opposition, secular-oriented Republican People’s Party (CHP). But this time, he ended that part of his speech with these words:

Kilicdaroglu is striving every bit he can to raise himself from the level of a black person (zenci in Turkish, which is the same as “negro”) to the level of a white man.

Might that be offensive? Might that be reported in the American mass media? Incidentally, Kilicdaroglu is a Kurd. In a politically correct country, this statement would raise questions of whether Erdogan is a racial supremacist.

If not for the Obama administration, perhaps the Turkish army would have acted like the Egyptian one. Instead, dozens of Turkish military officers and journalists, among others, sit in prison for years without trial. Intellectuals are intimidated. Turkish democracy is headed the same way that Egyptian democracy was.

Read more at PJ Media

Tayyip Erdoğan, “God’s Gift to Turkey”

turkey-silent-protests-7by Robert Ellis:

“In the Islamic world, democratization has led to an increasing role for theocratic politics.” — Fareed Zakaria

The Turkish Minister for EU Affairs, Egemen Bağış, has declared that Prime Minister Erdoğan is a gift sent by God to Turkey and to humanity. But what do half the Turkish electorate do – as well as the rest of humanity – when the gift is unwanted?

There is no doubt that the Almighty has bestowed upon the world a special gift.

We have ex-Libyan leader Colonel Mohammed Gaddafi’s word for that: in November 2010 the Turkish prime minister was awarded with the Al-Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights for “distinguished service to humanity.”

During the award ceremony Prime Minister Erdoğan declared that Islamophobia was a crime against humanity and that Muslims come from a tradition that also regards anti-Semitism as a crime against humanity. At a meeting of the Alliance of Civilizations in March, however, he added Zionism to the list, together with fascism.

To cap it all, when Erdoğan was in Algeria during his recent North Africa tour, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Algiers, also for his contribution to humanity. On his return, Erdoğan was given a rapturous welcome by his supporters and saluted not only his brothers in Istanbul and Turkey but also those in Sarajevo, Baku, Beirut, Skopje, Damascus, Gaza, Mecca and Medina. There was no mention of Europe or elsewhere.

The crowd shouted, “Let’s go to Taksim and crush them,” but the Prime Minister preferred to quote the Turkish poet Yunus Emre: “I don’t come to fight, my job is for love. The friend’s home is in hearts, I come to build hearts.” In the meantime, the police in Taksim Square in Istanbul and Kuğulu Park in Ankara got on with the business of winning hearts and minds.

In his speech Erdoğan rejected the notion that he was only prime minister for the 50% and claimed he was the servant of Turkey’s 76 million. The great leap forward for the Turkish economy under the AKP that he mentioned is undoubtedly true, but it has come at the expense of civil liberties and a growing division in Turkish society.

Last November, celebrating the AKP’s 10 years of government, Prime Minister Erdoğan spoke of a mental revolution; this, again, is true. Religion has played a leading role in Turkish society, both with regard to public appointments and in awarding public contracts, and in the whole conduct of society. Shortly after the AKP came into power, one wag at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs changed his out-of-office reply to, “Gone to namaz[prayer].”

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Tayyip Erdoğan has apparently stepped back from the brink and agreed to abide by the court decision to suspend the Gezi Park project and later hold a plebiscite on its future. At the same time, the Prime Minister has declared his patience has come to an end and Taksim Square and Gezi Park have been cleared by the police. His Minister for EU Affairs, Egemen Bağış, has also stated that anyone who enters Taksim Square will be considered a terrorist. Woe betide the visitor to Istanbul who loses his way.

Read more at Gatestone Institute

Gulen’s False Choice: Silence or Violence

Fethullah Gulen

By Stephen Schwartz:

The imam and his army should follow their own advice: respond to insults against Muhammad or other non-violent attacks by presenting a better example of Islam, rather than by attempting prior restraint on free expression.

When the enigmatic Turkish Islamist leader, M. Fethullah Gulen, who lives in the U.S., published, in the September 27 London Financial Times, an op-ed column with a clumsy turn from benevolent moderation to hard Islamist ambitions, he revealed his authentic character.

The topic was, probably predictably, the latest outburst of terrorism in Muslim countries, along with the pretext of indignation against a crude video made in the U.S. and which insulted Muhammad. The op-ed, entitled, “Violence is not in the tradition of the Prophet,” emphasized, in the first seven (out of nine) paragraphs, that Muslims should not react to insults against Muhammad by destructive protests: “The violent response,” he wrote, “was wrong… Muslims …must speak out [against] violence… The question we should ask ourselves as Muslims is whether we have introduced Islam and its Prophet properly to the world. Have we followed his example in such a way as to instill admiration?… [A Muslim] should respect the sacred values of Christians, Jews, Buddhists and others as he expects his own religion and values to be respected.” So far, so good.

The true outlook of Fethullah Gulen, however, was revealed in his last two paragraphs: “Hate speech designed to incite violence is an abuse of the freedom of expression… [W]e should appeal to the relevant international institutions, such as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation [OIC] or the UN, to intervene, expose and condemn instances of hate speech. We can do whatever it takes within the law to prevent any disrespect to all revered religious figure, not only to the Prophet Muhammad. The attacks on the Prophet we have repeatedly experienced are to be condemned, but the correct response is not violence. Instead, we must pursue a relentless campaign to promote respect for the sacred values of all religions,” Gulen proclaimed.

Gulen proposes, in so many words, adoption of international laws against blasphemy as an alternative to homicidal outbursts. And what would a “relentless campaign” involve other than disrespect for free speech? Presenting terrorist mobs and blasphemy codes as the principal alternatives for redress of offended Muslims’ grievances is hardly reasonable, and conflicts with the reputation Gulen has sought to construct for himself and his followers as dedicated adherents to interfaith dialogue and tolerance of religious differences.

Gulen leads a massive, worldwide religious, journalistic, and educational network, known as Hizmet (Service). His movement is associated with the Istanbul daily newspaper Zaman (Time), which claims to be Turkey’s largest in circulation. Zaman produces an English online edition, Today’s Zaman, as well as media aimed at the overseas Turkish communities in Germany and Australia. Zaman also appears in locally-edited versions in countries, from the Balkans to Kyrgyzia, which possess either Turkish minorities, or are viewed as part of a pan-Turkish cultural sphere. Zaman has no problem with restrictive press rules under notorious dictatorships, such as, for example, that of the former Soviet Muslim republic of Turkmenistan, under the eccentric, coercive, and energy-rich regime established by its post-Communist autocrat, Suparmarat Niyazov (1940-2006). Zaman Turkmenistan, following the prevailing rules, has refrained from reporting news unfavorable to Niyazov’s regime and its successors.

Gulen is doubtless best known outside Turkey for a system of science-oriented primary, secondary, and higher education institutions across the globe, including many operated as “charter schools,” with local public financing, in the U.S. The Gulen school system in America – 120 establishments in 2012, according to The New York Times – has been questioned for its odd characteristics. These include recruiting American students of non-Turkish descent to learn Turkish – hardly a likely first choice for American learners of a second language – and participating in competitions for the mastery of Turkish culture. Turkish-Americans, however, according to the reliable estimates, account for fewer than 150,000 people out of the total population, thereby depriving the Gulen program of an argument for multicultural representation in public school curricula of a significant minority culture.

Further, in the last two years, mainstream media have reported U.S. federal and state investigations of the Gulen charter school system. These have focused on charges of diversion of local government money to Gulen-controlled businesses and abuse of “H1B” work visas for teachers brought from Turkey and Central Asia who have substandard qualifications, while American teachers with superior credentials suffer unemployment. Earlier this year, The New York Times reported that three Gulen schools in the American state of Georgia (he has many more schools in the former Soviet republic of Georgia) had defaulted on bonds, and that an audit had disclosed improper contracting for services with Gulen enterprises.

The Gulen movement’s American branches additionally offer speaking platforms and tours of Turkey to influential Americans, with considerable success. Gulen, who began his professional life as an imam, has enjoyed the support of America’s premier academic apologist for radical Islam, Professor John Louis Esposito of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, as well as other prominent figures. Through them, he has projected himself as a preacher of moderate, spiritual Islam related to the Sufi tradition and particularly to that of Said Nursi (1878-1960), who advocated a fusion of science and faith. Gulen has been especially identified by his defenders with mutual respect between religions and as an advocate for secular education, an opponent of terrorism, and, in effect, a lover of all humanity.

Inside Turkey, Gulen and his movement have a different image. They inspire considerable fear. Gulen’s followers have been accused of an elaborate strategy of infiltration of state institutions, including the army, police, and judiciary. Ahmet Sik, a Turkish journalist who wrote an expose of the movement, The Imam’s Army, was charged with participation in a nebulous “conspiracy” called “Ergenekon,” organized ostensibly by a “deep state” within the Turkish institutions. Sik was released in March 2012 after more than a year in prison. The Imam’s Army is banned in Turkey and has yet to be printed as a book there, although it, and excerpts translated into English, have been posted on the internet.

Read more at Gatestone Institute