Gazi Warrior vs Sufi Mystic: Turkey's Erdogan-Gulen Breakup by Sophia Pandya
'Yesterday, they stabbed us in the back. Tomorrow, they will stab their current colleagues in the back if they get the chance. I call on those who are still silent in the face of this vile betrayal to reconsider their positions.' President Recep Tayyib Erdoǧan, regarding the Hizmet movement.
'There have been so many injustices,so many false allegations and slanders. The enmity is not mutual. We do not feel enmity towards anyone. We do not see them as the enemy.' Fethullah Gűlen, discussing the rift with RecepTayyib Erdoǧan
The two men with the most power in Turkey are President Recep Tayyib Erdoǧan, and religious leader Fethullah Gűlen. The former is the founder and long-time former leader of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and former Prime Minister.The latter, a Sufi theologian known reverentially as Hocaefendi (respected teacher) to his millions of followers, inspired a civil society humanitarian movement, called Hizmet, or service, which has founded thousands of educational centres and owns dozens of media institutions, in Turkey and abroad. They both recently appeared in the news, reflecting vastly different personalities and modes of masculinity. In a speech on 25 May 2015, Erdoǧan angrily rebuked The New York Times, stating ‘as a newspaper you should know your place!’ after it published an article critical of his power-seeking authoritarianism. This article noted that an Ankara- based prosecutor (likely pressured by Erdoǧan) just called for a ban on Gűlen-related media outlets, and that many journalists working for Hizmet have already been arrested. It went on to accuse him of ‘brute manipulation of the political process,’ and being ‘increasingly hostile to truth-telling.’
Juxtaposed to this image of a livid Erdoǧan, are recent news reports about Gűlen, honoured in Atlanta, Georgia, on April 9-10 2015, by the historically Black Morehouse College. Morehouse presented him with the 2015 Gandhi- King-Ikeda Peace Award, for his work towards global peacebuilding. A ceremony was held for him at the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel, and pictures of the three humanitarians, together with Gűlen, were prominently displayed in the lobby, to honour those whose life mission, like that of King, was to struggle towards positive social transformation. These contrasting representations of Erdoǧan and Gűlen reflect their contesting visions of Turkey, but also their differing performances of masculinity, leadership, religion, and values regarding alterity.