US-based Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen said on Tuesday that fabricated stories in the pro-government media about new terror attacks and political assassinations in Turkey could be associated with followers of the faith-based Gülen movement.
In a statement from the Herkul.org website on Tuesday, Gülen said that fabricated news against the movement in the pro-government media, claiming that Gülen movement followers in association with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) were planning terror attacks and assassination of government and opposition leaders, are baseless and aim to blacken the image of the movement.
Underlining that the movement has never been involved in any kind of violence in its history, Gülen also noted that fabricated stories aim to divert the attention of the public from radical groups such as Al-Nusra, which came to public attention when a police officer killed Russia’s envoy in Ankara in December and is also known for receiving support from Turkey’s government.
“It is not a remote possibility that blame for new terror activities could be put on Hizmet (Gülen movement) sympathizers, similar to several other unidentified murders and dark incidents between 2000-2013 […], following the July 15 [failed coup attempt] conspiracy. Especially after failing to label Hizmet as a terrorist organization globally, it is well-grounded to think that there might be new attempts at attacks and assassinations [that pro-gov’t circles may blame on the movement],” he said.
Gülen further underlined that the movement and its sympathizers will never give up their faith in democracy and the rule of law even if they are facing a government crackdown, oppression, discrimination, torture, tyranny or banishment, the likes of which have never been seen in history.
“The priority of those people [who are sympathizers of the Gülen movement] is to struggle against poverty, disunity and ignorance in order to make peace dominant in the world, and their slogan would be ‘positive movement’,” he concluded.
Immediately following the discovery that the gunman who shot the Russian ambassador to Turkey on the evening of Dec. 19 was a police officer, the pro-government media was quick to put the blame on the Gülen movement.
The gunman, Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş, chanted Islamist slogans also used by radical terrorist organization the Al Nusra Front after he shot Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov at an art gallery in Ankara. Yet, several pro-government columnists did not hesitate to label the gunman ‘FETÖ,’ a derogatory term the government coined to call the Gülen movement a terrorist organization.
Erdoğan also said during a press conference in Ankara on Dec. 21 that the assassin of the Russian ambassador is obviously a member of FETÖ, a derogatory term coined by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government to refer to members of the Gülen movement. “There is no need to hide it,” said Erdoğan.
The Turkish government has been waging an all-out war against the Gülen movement since the outbreak of a corruption scandal in late 2013. The government’s crackdown on the movement reached new heights with a failed coup attempt on July 15 as the government held the movement responsible for the putsch. The movement strongly denies having any role in the failed coup.
In the meantime, Gülen on Dec. 19 condemned the assassination of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey as a “heinous act of terror” and urged the Turkish government to identify anyone who aided the gunman.