Justin Vela

Happy 2012…My last published story of 2011…the Turkish Republic and the Gülen movement…

with 10 comments

Istanbul-My last story of 2011 was published Thursday by EurasiaNet.org. Turkey: Has Gülen Movement Replaced Deep State? was meant to raise a series of questions that are very prevalent in Turkey, especially in the past weeks as hundreds of people have been detained in Turkey, almost always on scant evidence.

The December 26 trial of arrested Turkish journalists Ahmet Şık and Nedim Şener has pushed a shadowy organization known as the Gülen movement to the forefront of public attention in Turkey. The group’s influence has long been an open secret. Now, its weight is being felt at a time when the country’s democratic credentials are increasingly being called into question.

Read the full article here 

To those that do not follow Turkish politics on a regular basis, the Gülen movement might appear to be the stuff of conspiracies. However, community networks, many times organized around one of the various Islamic movements in the country, have always been powerful forces in Turkey. The Gülen movement, or Gülen organization, as some people I interviewed insisted it should be called, is one of the largest and most powerful of these networks. Indeed, the Millî Görüş another Islamic organization, was instrumental in propelling the first Islamic political parties to power in Turkey. Something to note is a general consensus, among the people that agreed to be interviewed, that the Gülen movement is more confident now, especially with Turkey’s once all powerful military apparently tamed, and therefore more willing to be open about their role in the country.

The 000 Book, by detained Turkish journalist Ahmet Şık, on sale at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport on December 29, 2011. The book, originally called the Imam's Army, was initially banned before it could be published. It was later published under a new name by a group of Turkish journalists and intellectuals.


Written by Justin Vela

January 1, 2012 at 11:50 am

Posted in Published work, turkey

Tagged with , , , , ,

10 Responses

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  1. I believe Justin is slowly being a victim of a disinformation campaign partly because he gets fed by the people of the same camp. true, Gulen movement is one of the largest Islamic communities in Turkey. But, is it becoming the deep state really? No, not in anyway. A recent poll (Justin Vela could find out easily if he searches major newspapers) showed that affiliation with the Gulen movement is around 5-6 %. This is six percent of the population in numbers. If such a relatively small movement is taken to be the only power making the calls today, there is something wrong with it. Justin seems so naive and is taken so much away with the view that whatever happens in Turkey, the Cemaat is behind it. Exam pamphlets are stolen; people say it is cemaat; some anti-Gulen religious leader is arrested on the charges of women trafficking and blackmailing; people say it is cemaat. The government brings new regulations giving families an option of safe internet; people say it is cemaat. For God’s sake, who are these people to have amassed such power? The reality is some people exaggerating the impact of the Gulen movement to switch the focus on them so that they are considered a political power. My suggestion is that Justin talks to people other than the old Marxist-turned-to-liberal type of people. And where is the cross checking of facts anyway?

    Justin, you should see this article and reflect on it as well:



    January 12, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    • Thanks for commenting.

      Actually, I have read this article and as you suggested, reflected up on it. There were some very fair points that were made and I inquired about them in the interviews I did for this and other articles about the Gulen movement that I have written.



      One of the most immediately striking aspects of writing about the Gulen movement is the number of people who will not discuss it at all, even if they have some privileged status, such as a professor, journalist, columnist, official etc. Then there are others who will discuss the Gulen movement, but only to provide background and not “on the record.”

      The number of people who will openly speak about the Gulen movement is very small.

      This is very significant and any movement or organization that inspires such reactions deserves a critical look.

      In a forthcoming blog post I will write about the researching of these articles.

      Justin Vela

      January 12, 2012 at 2:13 pm

      • Justin, there are some points in your story that sounds quite biased. There are some misconceptions that must be corrected.

        Gulen movement is not a secret organization, cult, party, lodge etc… With its schools, institutions, organizations, banks, media etc.. it is all open to public. F. Gulen has hundreds of books, interviews, articles etc… And the people who are supporting this movement didn’t fall from the sky! They are the flesh and blood of this land. They are Turkish people…. These people pay their taxes as a normal individual, raise their kids, they pay their monthly bills, they have the right to vote, get a job, get an education and get health benefits as all. They are the people of Turkey with its advantages and disadvantages… Like it or not, you need to stop labeling these people as a bunch of enemies surrendering the state. There are many legal institutions that you can visit and ask for information about this movement. Maybe you can check this web site: http://www.gyv.org.tr/ Go and ask them! And cross check your facts with real people.


        January 13, 2012 at 12:00 pm

      • That many people are hesitant to talk about the Gulen movement should not necessarily mean that the Gulen movement is behind everything now in Turkey. I don’t know the reasons for these people to stay away from discussing the Gulen movement. In the old times, people in the Gulen movement were the enemies of the Republic, or Ataturk, and they were all called “gerici” (backward). Now they are called the hands of the CIA, USA’s partner in the region, the source of power that controls everything, or the deep state as you prefer to call. The first phase (gerici) phase was totally emotional and showed the humiliating look of the powerful elite on the powerless conservative Muslims. The second phase implies that the once powerful elite are now not able to make the calls; they are not able to contain the rise of movements that are Islamic in nature. Feeling sidelined and weakened, these circles exaggerate everything and explain their fall with unexplained power of the rising figures in new Turkish society. They are not able to understand how a retired cleric can be the inspiration behind thousands of schools not only in Turkey but in the world. The result is the claim that “they are everywhere”, “they are coming”, hence the demands that “the Gulen movement should be transparent.” With all its institutions, schools, dorms, the media in front of the public, how much more transparency is needed from the Gulen movement? The rise of Gulen movement and other similar movements in Turkey should indicate the changing dynamics of Turkish society, not the changing face of the new deep state.

        My fundamental objection to your articles defending Ahmet Sik and others is that the explicit efforts of a network to manipulate and misdirect the public about the AKP and the Gulen movement are totally ignored. The prosecution’s claims about Ahmet Sik and the Oda TV group are never studied by you (you call them absurd) whereas the documents clearly show a coordinated effort in this network to create and push a certain picture of the Gulen movement trying to tie the group to the whole Ergenekon case and eventually bringing down this huge lawsuit. The conversations between Ahmet Sik and Oda TV people clearly show that Sik was getting directions from others to connect the Gulen movement with the Ergenekon case based on manipulated data. If you read Mavioglu’s article after Sik’s arrest, you will see that he mentions, not in detail though, what the prosecutor claims. So, seeing this whole thing as prevention of an unwanted book by the Gulen movement totally misses the point; Ahmet Sik, Nedim Sener, and other Oda TV people are part of a big scheme to misdirect and manipulate the public on the Ergenekon case. Otherwise, we need to assume that not only the police in Turkey are dominated by the Gulenists; but also all prosecutors involved in the case and all the judges that took role in arresting these names as well should be “Gulenist” which is not possible and which should be considered an insult to these judges. In Turkey, judges, not the police, decide whether a case is strong enough or whether the suspects need to be put in jail. The title itself “Imamin Ordusu” should be enough to show the intention of Ahmet Sik.

        This is why you, by ignoring this network of misinformation and manipulation, seem to have been made part of a worldwide campaign of disinformation. Please don’t forget that behind the Ergenekon are criminals, murderers and those figures that were untouchable some time ago. If there is anything that connects the Gulen movement directly with the Ergenekon case, we should know about it. No one can be accused of wrongdoing by pure opinions of others. What Sik says in his latest letter is full of pure opinion and guess but not facts.


        January 16, 2012 at 4:46 pm

  2. I do not believe Gülen is behind everything in Turkey. But I do believe they are trying to use big events for their own benefit, and in the process they distort facts, manipulate truths. Their elite does not come across as clean.

    I also don’t think “other people who wrote about the Gülen movement did not get prosecuted” argument is a valid one. It is smart, granted. But I think it is not solely the content of the Ahmet Şık book that “burnt” him so to speak. It was the timing. The timing of when Gülen movement had full-blown embarked on their journey to manipulate the public and big trial cases to their own advantage, coincided with Hanefi Avcı, Ahmet Şık and Nedim Şener’s books and speeches. These authors (or whatever you want to name them as Avcı is a former police officer) impeded the movement’s calculations, in my opinion.

    If the movement feels targeted against, they should sincerely question themselves. Today’s Zaman and Zaman publish material lies and manipulated facts themselves. They are sneaky and like a chameleon they take the color of the power. Their credibility is bankrupt.


    January 27, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    • Let me also add here that the timing was crucial because the books were exposing or raising serious questions about the relationship between the Gülen movement and some of the police, judiciary and the intelligence agencies actively involved in the big trials of today.

      Here is a good read on the subject:


      It would be interesting to check Today’s Zaman and see if they had any news on how Rize Criminal Court did not allow opening an investigation on Ramazan Akyürek and the others from Trabzon Police.


      January 30, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    • It is good that senegal is granting that Gulen is not behind everything. This is progress. Whether the Gulen people are using “big events” to their own benefit is all circumstantial and based on speculation. However, my fundamental point on Sik, Sener, and OdaTV people being involved in a coordinated effort to tie the Ergenekon case to the Gulen movement remains open and not responded. There are evidence in the documents provided by the prosecutor in the Sik case that clearly show a close communication between Oda TV people, Sik, Sener, and some police chiefs to manipulate information (i.e., to hide wrongdoings of certain police chiefs like Sabri Uzun, a friend of Hanefi Avci and his team, so that all the blame goes on other police chiefs). This is the real crime of Sik and Sener. There is nothing new as far as Sik’s book is concerned except the underlying idea that Gulen people are behind the Ergenekon. This is not journalism; it is disinformation and distortion of facts.

      As far as “calculations” by the Gulen movement, we don’t know who calculated what (again speculation). Senegal is attributing these calculations to unknown names in the Gulen group. But, the movement has always been on the target of certain segments. Their dormitories and schools have regularly been raided; every institution affiliated with Gulen people has been under scrutiny; and the Gulen people was the clear target of Turkish military chiefs. Why should the movement question themselves if nothing illegal has been legally attributed to them while some accusers are already in jail for their illegal tactics and unconstitutional decisions?


      February 3, 2012 at 12:31 am

  3. This article is a very important piece coming from a close friend of Hrant Dink. His anger at the abuse of Hrant Dink and endless efforts of manipulation by the so-called “freedom loving journalists” of Turkey are well placed. He uncovers how widespread the coalition of white Turks is and how they distort (and have been) facts in Turkey. Thanks Etyen and thanks Todays Zaman.. Please note his remark on how Sener attacked the police in the Dink case and purposefully ignored the role of military figures in the murder.



    February 3, 2012 at 4:36 pm

  4. Actually, Etyen Mahcupyan’s credibility is bankrupt. Sorry. And if you want to see how Hrant Dink’s name is abused, here is a very clear example, done by the very Zaman writers themselves. The “inconsistencies” you point out cannot be refuted with other texts by Zaman that DOES NOT mention Ramazan Akyurek’s promotion problems, and other issues. Sorry, again. If you read the following text, the true inconsistency and abuse of Hrant Dink’s name comes from Ekrem Dumanli, the editor in chief of Fethullah Gulen’s media flagship, who spread lies about Tarik Akan using Hrant Dink’s name, and Dink’s own brother refuted those claims. Here:

    “Müjde Ar, Altın Portakal Film Festivali’nde Tarık Akan’ı sahneye davet ederken “Sinemada kazandığı tüm birikimlerini yarattığı okuluyla, öğrencileriyle paylaşan, onlarla yeri geldiğinde çocuk gibi olan birisi” dedi.

    Zaman Gazetesi Genel Yayın Müdürü Ekrem Dumanlı da bu sözden yola çıkarak kaleme aldığı yazısında Akan’la ilgili çarpıcı bir iddiayı gündeme getirdi.

    Dumanlı, ünlü oyuncunun mafya babası Dündar Kılıç’ı araya sokarak Taş Mektep’i Hrant Dink’in elinden aldığını öne sürdü. Ayrıca Akan’ın kira yüzünden Rum Vakfı’yla mahkemelik olduğunu yazdı.

    Hürriyet’te yer alan habere göre; iddialara Tarık Akan, Hrant Dink’in kardeşi Orhan Dink ve Bakırköy Aya Yorgi Rum Kilisesi Vakfı Başkanı Niko Atanasyadis’ten yanıt geldi.

    İDDİA 1: Dündar Kılıç aracı oldu
    YANIT 1: Dündar’ları karıştırdılar
    Tarık Akan: Bunlar iddialarını yalan üzerine kurmuşlar. Duyunca şoke oldum. Hepsini mahkemeye vereceğim. Yok öyle bir şey, nereden çıkarmışlar anlamıyorum. Biz bu okulu kurduğumuzda benim bir ortağım vardı, adı da Dündar Uçar’dı. Ortaklığımız yedi yıl önce sona erdi. Kendisi o dönem Özel Okullar Derneği başkanıydı. Ben eğitimciliği ondan öğrendim. Bunlar Dündar Uçar’ı Dündar Kılıç diye yazıyorlar.

    İDDİA 2: Hrant Dink tehdit edildi
    YANIT 2: Gönül rızasıyla verdik
    Orhan Dink: Tarık Akan’a yüklenmek istiyorlarsa, bunu ağabeyim Hrant Dink üzerinden yapmasınlar. O yazılanlar bizim açımızdan doğru değil. Biz 90’lı yıllarda Taş Mektep’i kiraladık ama daha önce Tarık Akan’a söz verildiğini öğrenince gönül rızasıyla okulu ona verdik. Tarık Akan o okulda iyi bir eğitim yapıyor. Olayın bizi ilgilendiren bir yönü yok.

    İDDİA 3: Rum Vakfı ile mahkemelik
    YANIT 3: Kirayı zamanında öder
    Niko Atanasyadis: Özel Taş İlköğretim Okulu, bizim vakfındır. Tarık Akan’ı yıllardır tanıyoruz, uyumlu bir kiracımızdır, çok sevdiğimiz iyi bir arkadaşımızdır. Kiralarını hep zamanında öder. Kira artışı yaptığımızda da bizleri anlar. Şimdiye kadar mahkemelik olacak bir olay yaşamadık. Aramızda bugüne kadar hiçbir problem çıkmadı.”


    No belief, no faith system should be as blinding and lead one to so militantly defend something so incredulously. Sorry Tarik, your replies are most disingenuous.


    February 12, 2012 at 8:14 pm

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