The Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Turkey has denied reports published by pro-government media that claim that U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen is a Freemason.
On March 30, daily Yeni Şafak published putative documents from the lodge dated between 1972 and 1976, allegedly showing Freemason invitations to Gülen. Another alleged document states that Gülen would be decorated with a medal at a Freemason ceremony.
“It has been unanimously decided that our brother, Muhammed Fetullah Gülen, who contributed with new ideas each Tuesday evening or afternoon, will be decorated with a medal of gratification,” said the document, complete with stains ostensibly showing the announcement’s age.
The association representing the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Turkey also denied the report late March 30. “M. Fethullah Gülen is not a member [of the association] and has never been, contrary to what has been claimed in some reports,” the statement said.
Stressing that the association “recognizes any masonic authority as its superior or equal abroad or at home,” the statement also noted that “the public authority” oversees all its activities according to laws.
According to the statement, the alleged document reads the “Grand Lodge of Masons in Turkey,” but the association has never carried the name in its history.
“The recent references to our institution, which were unjust and not based on truth, have caused great sadness among our members,” it said.
Affiliates of the Gülen movement also said late March 30 on Turkish social media that the documents were forged. They stressed that although the cleric now writes his name as “M. Fethullah Gülen,” his ID did not bear the letter “M” in the 1970s, contrary to what the alleged documents show.
Reports accusing the scholar intensified in Turkey’s pro-government media after the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its former ally Gülen turned against each other after allegedly Gülenist prosecutors and police officials launched massive corruption investigations in December 2013.
The AKP accused Gülenist civil servants, which it labels as “the parallel structure,” of trying to topple the government. Gülenists deny the accusation, claiming that the government is persecuting its followers and others for revealing massive corruption.