In favor of democracy, Hizmet Movement is clearly focused on common good

As somebody who has come to respect
and admire the Hizmet Movement, it is very painful to see
what’s happening currently in Turkey. To see how the
Movement is being defamed, to see how the good work of
the Movement is being thwarted, that’s very hard
and painful to see. One of the things I admire
about Hocaefendi (Mr. Gulen) is the way he has threaded the needle
in the relationship between civil society and politics. My understanding is that when
the current prime minister was elected, and the current prime minister said,
‘I have a commitment to democratic society, we have a constitution currently
that was written in 1980 during a military coup, that we need a new constitution,
we need to recognize the full rights of minorities, such as Alawites, Armenians
and Kurds in our own country’, that the Movement was in favor of
those values and that direction, so they said, we will support this party and this
prime minister because you are pursuing those goals. And, of course, it’s always tricky
when you do that and some people say, ‘uh you’re really showing your cards now, you’re really
a political movement, not a civil society movement’. And the movement said, ‘no’. Then, when the prime minister backtracked and began
to back away from that full commitment to democracy, then the movement
criticized those actions. I think, Fethullah Gulen has said it very well
and very succinctly; ‘we have not moved, we are -and continue to be- where we are at
in favor of working for true democracy out of the context of civil society. It’s the political game
in Turkey that has shifted.’ And, my guess is that
the people committed to the movement were always committed to the movement
for its values, its principles, its ideals, not for some kind of personal benefit. And now that the movement is currently under
siege, they’re not going to abandon the movement. They’re going to continue to be
where they have been, and, probably, this will only deepen the commitment of those
in the movement as they experience this turmoil. I believe a government would use
an organization as Hizmet to distract people, to get people to hate blindly, to accuse
others for a government’s own failures; these are common tactics
used throughout history. It’s a playbook that
unjust governments use; and so it’s important that we continue with the path of
education, that we continue with the path of kindness. There will be no violent revolution, there will be
no outrage, no rising up against any government. Who talks about
Turkey today as a model? And the reason why people don’t talk about Turkey
as a model is because, and exactly because, of the authoritarian and thuggish policies
and behavior of the current Turkish Prime Minister. So, I think, his reaction to the Hizmet Movement
is really a reaction that is motivated not by anything that the Hizmet Movement
has done that is illegal or immoral but he doesn’t want to answer
for the policies that he’s pursuing. So, I think the accusations
are unconvincing. I think they are mean spirited. And I’m hoping that Turkish society can
figure out a way to resolve this problem that they’re currently experiencing,
because if they can, and I hope they can – I’m still very optimistic
about Turkish democracy – democracies always face
difficult moments, crises; I think we’re seeing that
happening today in Turkey. The challenge, really, is
for all members of Turkish society to try and come together
and resolve this non-violently, peacefully. When I then heard that
not only the prosecutors, but thousands of policemen
and even judges were being transferred, were being taken out of important assignments,
were being sent to the hinterlands, were being sent out to the provinces, one
has to wonder: is this really a democracy and a country based on laws, or is it based on
a dictatorial mandate that’s coming out of Ankara and from the
presidential palace? Because this is not the way that
an investigation should be conducted. I don’t know the full story of what’s
currently going on in Turkish politics. I do think it’s very disappointing that
the Prime Minister is, in my opinion, using Mr. Gulen as a scapegoat. I mean, let’s look at it this way; democracy
is messy and Turkey is a young democracy and there’s always
going to be challenges. At the same time, I think that
change is frightening for people. I don’t think it’s an excuse to slander
somebody and to disavow a movement that is clearly focused on
only doing good things and benefiting people and trying to
bring the world closer together. It’s a disappointment
but I’m a strong believer that, in the end, the truth and good
triumph and prevail and that they emerge.

Maurice Vega

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