“It functions like a secret service” – new report on Gülen movement
Turkey’s Fethullah Gülen movement, blamed for the failed July 2016 coup, functioned like a mafia within the state, infiltrating its followers into the civil service and the military in order to gain power, a new report published on the German government-funded Middle East website Qantara said.
"This is a mafia that is using religion as an instrument to gain power. It functions like a secret service," it quotes now-jailed investigative journalist Ahmet Şık as saying of the religious movement that follows a Turkish preacher-in-exile in Pennsylvania.
"With falsified evidence and false statements, they made life hell for thousands of people" during prominent mass trials of alleged secularist conspirators, Şık said.
The movement grew through its many schools and encouraged recruits to join the civil service or military, the report said, in order “to educate a pious elite that is capable of leading and ultimately controlling the state”.
In doing so, the movement forged alliances with a number of governments, but the closest was with Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the report said. Tensions in the relationship would later lead to a very public split.
The Turkish government has said the movement carried out the July 2016 coup attempt and has arrested tens of thousands of people accused of being followers of the reclusive preacher Fethullah Gülen, who lives in rural Pennsylvania.
"I think that there was a faction within the military and that the Gülenists were among the masterminds,” Şık is quoted as saying in response. “However, I believe that members of the faction betrayed each other the night before the attempted coup and during the events that followed."