July 15 was the anniversary of the failed coup attempt in Turkey that resulted in the deaths of 249 people. From the first minute of the coup attempt, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gülen as the main plotter.
Despite Gülen’s repeated denials of any involvement and his open call for an investigation by an international commission, no concrete effort has been made to find out the true perpetrators of the heinous attempt. Instead, a state of emergency, which still continues today, was declared and is used to silence the opposition and all other critical voices.
One year later, it has been revealed by intelligence agencies in the United Kingdom and Germany that the coup plotters were a coalition of officers that includes diverse groups in the military. There is no credible evidence provided by Turkish authorities that links Gülen to this coup attempt. The majority of reputable Turkish analysts point out that it was, in fact, Erdogan who had benefited the most from this attempt by starting a counter-coup, and most believe that he had known about the coup attempt in advance, indicating that this might be Erdogan’s “Reichstag fire.”
Gülen is a prominent Muslim scholar who promotes dialogue between people of diverse cultures and faiths. He denounces all kinds of violence and promotes modern education as a remedy for social problems. His teachings inspire millions of people around the world who are volunteering to serve their communities, which is often named the “Hizmet” movement. “Hizmet” literally means “service” in Turkish.
I believe that when these dark days in Turkey are over, volunteers of the Hizmet movement will put their hearts and souls into repairing the severely damaged social fabric with love, compassion, and forgiveness.
Mustafa Yucekaya, executive director, Atlantic Institute of South Florida,