Turkish preacher Gülen calls for foreign states to unite against Erdoğan

Turkish Islamist preacher Fethullah Gülen has spoken of how he used to advise President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a televised interview with Egyptian network TEN.

The preacher, who lives in self-imposed exile in the United States and heads the religious movement that Erdoğan’s government blames for the coup attempt in 2016, called on foreign states to unite against the Turkish president and hinted that he had the support of important political players in Turkey.

The only way to stop Erdoğan and put an end to “the chaos and unrest in Turkey” is for democratic Western and Middle Eastern states to unite against him, Gülen said.

“That is what a dear friend told me who is a sympathiser to the Service and was a foreign minister for Erdoğan,” he said, using a name Gülenists use for their religious movement.

Out of five former foreign ministers who served under the AKP, one, Ahval contributor Yaşar Yakış, was never on Erdoğan’s cabinet, while another, Feridun Sinirlioğlu, only served between August and November in 2015.

The remaining three – Ahmet Davutoğlu, Abdullah Gül and Ali Babacan – are no longer members of the ruling party, and are currently involved in creating new political movements.

If Gülen’s endorsement of one of these figures is confirmed, it could be a death knell for their nascent political movement, since the Islamist preacher’s movement is both illegal in Turkey and widely reviled by the public.

Gülen said the current leaders of Turkey were not aligned with the inherent values of the country, but merely pretend to respect the cultural and religious values of the nation in a bid to gain voters.

“They are not really the people of Anatolia… it said that they come from the north,’’ Gülen said referring to AKP leadership, adding that the party uses “Islamic speeches and slogans to stay in power.’’

Erdoğan hails from Turkey’s northern Black Sea region province of Rize. 

The U.S.-based cleric said that the Gülen movement previously supported the ruling AKP and he used to advise Erdoğan when he launched the party, adding that the Turkish president  “doesn’t have a university degree.’’

Following years of partnership, the ruling AKP and the Gülen movement parted ways at the end of 2013, when police and prosecutors alleged to be linked to the movement launched corruption investigations into a host of prominent government-linked figures, including the children of AKP ministers.

However, since holding office, Erdoğan has used his power of his own interest, Gülen said. 

Islamist parties should not enforce their views on a country’s minorities, Gülen said, referring to Turkey’s Kurds.

Pointing out that the ruling AKP has used Islamic slogans as  “cheap goods’’ to stay in power, Gülen said consideration for all beliefs is critical for the country.

The leader of the Gülen movement also praised Egypt, saying  “many countries in the African continent look up to Egypt and see it as a role model.’’

“The Egyptian leadership,’’ he said, referring to the country’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi,  “with its efficiency, can create a force of cooperation which will lead to unity and forming a source of synergy for other [countries in the region]’’.

Erdoğan is an ardent supporter of the Islamic Brotherhood, whose late leader, Mohamed Morsi, was ousted and imprisoned in 2013, following a military coup led by El-Sisi.

Gülen also commented Iran, saying the country was leading harmful operations against the Muslim world and had adopted  “the Western enmity toward the Sunni world.’’