ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
The Gülen movement says it runs more than 2,000 educational establishments in 160 countries, including charter schools, university departments, language schools and religious courses.
The ongoing fight between the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and the Gülen movement has been taking on an increasingly international dimension.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
recently said in a TV interview that he has conveyed to U.S. President Barack Obama his concerns about the activities of Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen
, who lives in self-exile in Pennsylvania.
What’s more, having recently called on his voters to boycott Gülen-affiliated schools in Turkey, Erdoğan signaled in the same interview that Ankara
may request a Red Notice from Interpol for Gülen.
Here are 10 maps that put Erdoğan’s international crackdown against Gülenists into context:
According to the Wall Street Journal, the Gülen movement says it runs more than 2,000 educational establishments in 160 countries, including charter schools, university departments, language schools and religious courses. The U.S. daily published this map showing Gülen-affiliated schools across the world.
Responding to a question about reports that Azerbaijan
recently seized Gülen-affiliated schools in the country, Erdoğan said he had not been able to confirm this but did know of similar reports coming from Kazakhstan
. “Pakistan could also do something like this. The prime minister of Pakistan’s Punjab province will meet me tomorrow night to talk about this issue,” he added.
Here’s a map showing the initial battlegrounds in the global war initiated by Erdoğan’s frontal assault:
The AKP and the Gülen movement are two Islam-inspired sociopolitical currents, but their roots lie in two distinct branches of Sunni
Islam in Turkey. The AKP’s ideological base is in the “Milli Görüş” (National Vision
) movement, while the Gülenists adhere to the school of Said Nursî
. Nowadays, some hardcore Gülenists are even openly accusing the AKP government of being “pro-Iran.” Here’s a regional map of the global Sunni-Shiite divide:
)**: This map, published by the Washington Post, categorizes Alevis in Turkey as Shiite. This a rough calculation, as the Turkish Alevi community is a distinct group, not to be confused with Alawites of Syria.
Turkey is a mostly Sunni
country and Turks are among the most religious people in Europe. This table shows the percentage of people believing in God in Turkey compared to elsewhere in Europe:
Still, in the Muslim world, Turkey is one of the countries with the highest percentage of people preferring democracy to a “strong leader.”
But there are two reasons, or perhaps consequences, that may show how Erdoğan has been able to remain as a “one-man government” so far:
1) A lot of poverty...
2) Therefore unhappy people...
3) And allegedly, a “bubble economy” that Erdoğan has managed to create while pushing for votes for his party
Although many Turks feel happier (and richer) compared to the past, the AKP government has increased pressure on many segments of society, while trying to preserve its image as a “model” for the Middle East. As corruption and wiretapping scandals swirl around the government, it’s worth considering Turkey’s position with regard to information transparency and openness to the public:
According to the Press Freedom Index prepared by Reporters Without Borders, Turkey “is currently the world’s biggest prison for journalists.” But the Gülen movement’s record is far from unblemished with regard to transparency or tolerance for dissent
. Respected investigative journalist
Nedim Şener, the International Press Institute’s (IPI) “World Press Freedom Hero,” puts the blame on the Gülenists more than the government. He was tried and jailed soon after writing a book on the movement.