Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek has acknowledged having had good relations with the Gülen movement and supporting it in the past, but he said his assistance to the movement was within the boundaries of the law.
Speaking during a TV show on Thursday, Gökçek, who has been accused by former Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç of illegally allocating land to institutions linked to the Gülen movement, said that he has not allocated any land illegally.
Admitting that the movement, which is also known as the Hizmet Movement, has done much for the promotion of the Turkish language, Gökçek underlined that he had sincerely praised the Turkish Olympiads organized by the movement.
“Whatever I did [to help the movement], I did as they [the movement] made great contributions [to the education] of my two sons, who studied in their institutions,” he said.
Expressing his support for his son Osman Gökçek, who has just announced his candidacy for the presidency of the Ankara Chamber of Commerce, Gökçek said his family has been one of the few families who put up a great fight against the movement along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Inspired by the views of US-based Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, the Gülen movement is a worldwide civil society movement focusing on world peace through education and dialogue. The movement runs a global network of schools, dialogue institutions, charities, media organizations and businesses that are not linked to each other through a central or formal organization but are loosely organized by people inspired by Gülen’s views.
The government puts the blame on Gülen for the July 15 coup attempt, a claim strongly denied by the scholar. Since then, Turkish authorities have launched a massive crackdown on the movement, arresting tens of thousands of public servants and dismissing nearly 110,000 civil servants over alleged ties to the movement. The government has also confiscated the properties of hundreds of companies and arrested leading businessmen over suspected links to the movement.