12/30/2013, 00.00
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Turkey: Political Islam’s "Night of St. Bartholomew"

by NAT da Polis
The government upheaval and police charges against political figures stem from opposition of once allied followers of Prime Minister Erdogan and those of Imam Gulen , the founder of the Hizmet Islamic community. A critical political phase with dangerous and unpredictable consequences.

Istanbul (AsiaNews) - A Night of St. Bartholomew has erupted within Turkish political Islam and pits the followers of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and those of the founder of the community Hizmet ( Offer ) , Imam Fethullah Gulen against each other.

The former stem from Milli Gorus (religious nationalists) now known as Necmetin Erbakan. In 1969 Erbakan founded Pasrtisi Milli Nizam ( National Order Party), then Refah Partisi ( the Welfare Party ), Virtue Partisi ( Virtue Party ), through whose ranks Erdogan rose, before founding together with the current President of the Republic, Abdullah Gul and the current Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc , the AKP Party.  Headed by Erdogan and in power since 2002, it has succeeded in freezing out the successors of Kemal Ataturk.

The latter are concentrated around Fehullah Gulen , a man without any special preparation, considered the successor to Said Nursi (1878-1960) as an expression of a more liberal Islam and culture.

The Islamic community Hizmet is characterized by great economic and cultural strength and is supported by Turkish businessmen and influences a large number of Muslims.  It has founded and maintains schools and universities in dozens of countries and has established a network of institutions for access to universities and vocational schools for disadvantaged students. There are about 500 of these schools in Turkey alone and a strong presence in the Islamic Balkans and also in Asia and Africa. The organization offers scholarships, housing, and moral guidance to students who come from rural areas . Hizmet supports the synergy of science and technology with the teachings of Islam and convoked the Olympics of Turkish culture for the Turkic speaking peoples around the world.

The group owns two newspapers in Turkey, Zaman ( The Times ) in Turkish language and Today's Zaman in English, as well as several other media.

Active since the mid- 1980s , the organization has succeeded in placing its men in the civil service, police and judiciary, but has failed to place its men in the army. For this reason, in 1999 it was accused by the military of trying to overthrow the secular state. Gulen was acquitted in 2008 and since March 1999 lives in Pennsylvania and is considered the father of the community.

Gulen and Erdogan found themselves allied in the common attempt to overthrow the "secular" Kemalist regome. According to several Turkish analysts, the alliance was dependent on the AKP's reliance on the experience of members of Hizmet , well infiltrated in the police , the judiciary and civil service, once the Party came to power.  This in order not to become prey to Kemalists.  In turn the community was living in fear of being suppressed and had no other choice but to cooperate with the AKP .

With an end to the domination of the army and judiciary, the two pillars of Kemalism, Erdogan - on the back of three successive victories policies (2002, 2007, and 2011) , reaching 50% and more than 58% obtained in the referendum of 2010 for the change of the Turkish constitution - decided to build his own system no longer willing to share power.

This in turn pushed Gulen to distance thimself from the AKP leader, also because of his positions against Israel, following the Israeli attack on the "Mavi Marmara" .

Gulen, a combination of Muslim piety and classic Turkish nationalism , is , among other things, deeply anti-Arab and strongly pro-Western. And when the riots broke out in the so-called "Arab Spring" and the Turkish prime minister began to declare Turkey the protector of Arabs , Gulen was further annoyed. The final blow was the war in Syria and Erdogan's support of Islamic extremists.

But the Gezi Park protests were also fuel for criticism from Gulen against Erdogan accused of failing to perceive the voice of Turkish society that is changing.

And Erdogan's project, the conquest of the Presidency of the Republic in the summer of 2014 , is seen as a confirmation of the dangerous dictatorial tendencies of  the prime minister, who according to whispers in Turkey's diplomatic circles, will not listen to anyone and considers himself a victim of international conspiracies .

Erdogan responded to Gulen's attack by deciding to suspend, by 2015, all institutions and schools that are part of Hizmet, thus aiming at the heart of the organization.

The following is the news reports as they emerged the day before yesterday : December 17th the police carried out a series of arrests, including the children of three important ministers; the Ministers for the Interior , Economy and Environment Muamar Guler, Zafer Caglajan and Erdogan Rahvali, all charged with bribery, embezzlement , abuse of power . And as of yesterday the news emerged that Erdogan's son is being investigated.

In short, the police, controlled by Gulen , who helped Erdogan to dismantle the Kemalists, is targeting Erdogan. The die is cast, and it is unknown whether the radical reshuffle made ​​by Erdogan will prevent his political collapse. Turkey is entering a critical political phase with dangerous and unpredictable consequences.

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