Who is Fethullah Gülen, What's he Doing in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, and Why does Turkey Want Him Extradited?
The reactions to the recent attempted coup in Turkey are basically the predictable moralizing -- Erdogan will now finally become a dictator! This is just like the Reichstag Fire! (which, contrary to popular opinion, actually was started by a Dutch Communist, not the Nazis). Erdogan-bashing has now reached a fever pitch, even though the question of leads Turkey has zero practical relevance to the daily lives of 90% of Germans (and would have zero relevance to even more if Germany had a better immigration policy).
Leave it to fun contrarian Steve Sailer to put aside the bloviation and focus attention on the most interesting aspect of the whole shebang: mysterious Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen. Gülen now lives in a fortified compound in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, having been allowed to obtain a green card for mysterious reasons.
And now, Turkish officials are demanding he be extradited to Turkey to face prosecution as a ringleader of the recent coup attempt. The USA is in high dudgeon publicly, saying Turkey has no evidence. The affair is threatening to do severe damage to relations between the USA and Turkey. Privately, I'm sure a lot of officials are asking the question yet again: "Why exactly did we allow this guy into the country? How does it benefit the USA to be dragged into the Byzantine internal politics of some other country halfway across the globe?"
Here's part of Sailer's profile of Gülen from way back in 2014:
With Turkey’s traditional ruling class—the secularist Kemalist generals—finally neutralized by the Ergenekon show trial, the Muslim civilian factions now appear to be plotting against each other. It is widely assumed among Turkish conspiracy theorists (i.e., roughly 98% of all Turks) that the prosecutorial assault on the prime minister was at the behest of Erdoğan’s former political ally, Fethullah Gülen, a powerful and mysterious Muslim cult leaderholed up since 1999 in, of all places, the Poconos, where he has become America’s largest operator of charter schools.The imam has been preparing for the struggle in Turkey for decades, launching his adherents on a long march through the institutions. The holy man’s Turkish enemies leaked a video in 1999 just before he defected to the US and took up exile in his fortified compound in Saylorsburg, PA. Gülen was shown advising his believers:
You must move in the arteries of the system without anyone noticing your existence until you reach all the power centers.…You must wait until such time as you have gotten all the state power….
Gülenists have since become common within Turkey’s police and judiciary, playing a lead role in last year’s conviction of 254 secularists for allegedly conspiring against the Islamic government. According to Wikileaks, the American ambassador to Ankara, James Jeffreys, cabled Foggy Bottom:
Gülenists also reportedly dominate the Turkish National Police, where they serve as the vanguard for the Ergenekon investigation—an extensive probe into an alleged vast underground network that is accused of attempting to encourage a military coup in 2004. The investigation has swept up many secular opponents of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), including Turkish military figures, which has prompted accusations that the Gülenists have as their ultimate goal the undermining of all institutions which disapprove of Turkey becoming more visibly Islamist. (COMMENT: The assertion that the TNP [Turkish National Police] is controlled by Gülenists is impossible to confirm but we have found no one who disputes it.…)
Amusingly, the Gülenists’ December attack on Erdoğan’s ethics seems to be retaliation for the government’s November attack on Gülen’s college admission test preparation centers. TheNew York Times reported:
…relations soured in recent weeks after the government tried to shut down private test preparation centers in Turkey, many of which are run by followers of Mr. Gülen and are important for the movement’s recruitment and finances.…“Erdoğan’s efforts to shut down the private schools was the last straw for Gülen and the Gülenists,” said Steven A. Cook, a Turkey expert at the Council on Foreign Relations.
He who controls test preparation controls the future.
...Ambassador Jeffreys commented in his secret cable:
…we have heard accounts that TNP [Turkish National Police] applicants who stay at Gülenist pensions are provided the answers in advance to the TNP entrance exam.
The Gülen movement receives hundreds of millions of dollars from American taxpayers to operate approximately 130 charter schools in America. Not surprisingly, they claim excellent test scores.
In defense of Gülen, it might be argued that he’s providing the Anatolian heartland with something that was extremely valuable to northern Europe: a business-oriented religious network in the Weberian mode. One reason Mexico is Mexico is because the Counter-Reformation kept Puritanism out of Latin America, and along with it the Protestant work ethic. Turkey, which has long been a sort of Mexico of Europe, could use an Anatolian business class.
On the other hand, the more I look into Gülen, the more he seems characteristically Ottoman. The adjective “byzantine” stems from the labyrinthine and devious politics of the imperial court of the Byzantine Empire, the successor to the Roman Empire. Not everything has changed since 1453.
Of course, the Gülen movement’s test prep schools in Turkey aren’t just about test prep. In an aggressively laicized state, after-school school is the best chance for indoctrinating youths in Islam and/or Gülen’s cult of personality.
“It’s organised like a cult,” a French researcher told FRANCE 24, speaking on condition of anonymity. “In certain places where they meet in Istanbul, it really feels like you’re in a Scientology centre. Leaders make speeches about universal love, and distribute pamphlets with photos of celebrities on them. Private classes are given, but we don’t know if the teachings are religious or not.” Most members are not even allowed to talk about the movement,” the French researcher explained. “The way it functions is totally opaque, which is reminiscent of Freemasons.”
Gülen's English-language Wikipedia page displays the suspiciously anodyne tone and ESL mistakes characteristic of controversial topics/people involving developing countries. Everyone who thinks their English is good enough is trying desperately to massage Gülen's image for English speakers.