Executive Travel Security Experts Discuss Fethullah Gulen and the Coup in Turkey
Fethullah Gulen, leader of the Hizmet movement, is accused of being the mastermind behind the Turkey coup attempt in July. Turkey has had an unfortunate history of military coups, having experienced three since the end of World War II. Earlier this year, the country suffered its fourth attempt when a cabal within the Turkish military tried to overthrow the country’s elected government. This action resulted in the killing of 241 innocent citizens and the injury of over two thousand others. Adding to the psychological impact, the Turkish Parliament, the national police headquarters, and other government facilities were damaged in the fighting. Ultimately, pro-government elements and the people of Turkey quickly thwarted the attempted coup. Although the putsch was short-lived, it has shaken the Turkish political order, and greatly strained relations between Turkey and its NATO allies in Europe and North America.
The attempted coup has provoked a serious backlash within Turkey. In the aftermath of the failed putsch, 30,000 people have been put in jail, and more than 100,000 military officers, judges, lawyers, civil servants, and teachers have been sacked or suspended. In addition, many writers, journalists, and editors have been arrested, and media outlets closed down. The purge has worried some in the West, who claim these actions are unnecessary and constitute a violation of civil liberties and human rights.
VIP and Executive Travel Security Experts ask, “Who is Fethullah Gulen?”
Gulen is a moderate Islamic preacher, originally from Turkey, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999. The Hizmet movement has millions of followers within Turkey and abroad. The movement’s main source of influence comes from the many charter schools established by Gulen’s followers around the world, including over 160 in the United States. Gulen has also founded numerous institutions that promote interfaith and intercultural dialogue.
Fethullah Gulen and Erdogan, once political allies, became bitter enemies after a dispute over corruption investigations in 2013. Since then, their rivalry has escalated and the Turkish government has designated Gulen’s movement a terrorist organization. Since the failed coup, Turkey has relentlessly requested the extradition of Fetullah Gulen from the United States. Erdogan and the Turkish government have stated that relations with the United States would deteriorate if Turkey’s extradition was not respected. The United States, in turn, has requested that Turkey provide clear evidence that the putsch was orchestrated by Fethullah Gulen and is currently reviewing evidence provided by the Turkish government.
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