Gülen was planning to return to Turkey like Khomeini returned to Iran: Justice minister
AA PhotoFethullah Gülen, a self-exiled religious leader in the United States, was planning to return to Turkey in the same way that Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Iran in 1979, if the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) had not started to struggle against it, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ has said.
“If there had been no Dec. 17 [corruption probe], or if it had been delayed and the Turkish people had failed to realize the power of this structure within Turkey, then Fethullah Gülen would have returned from Pennsylvania to Turkey just like Khomeini returned to Iran. Looking from this perspective, Dec. 17 was the day when Turkey said ‘no’ to such a transformation. The state and all its institutions have taken positions accordingly as they realized the danger,” Bozdağ told Anadolu Agency Jan. 28.
He was referring to the corruption probe launched on Dec. 17, 2013, when the police and the judiciary launched a huge investigation that engulfed four former ministers and their close relatives on charges of receiving millions of euros in bribes from an Iranian-origin businessman, Reza Zarrab. Eight days after the first probe, the case was expanded to include then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his family members, but both cases were cut short following the government’s intervention.
The AKP has since described the investigations as a “coup attempt” against the government orchestrated by Gülen sympathizers in the state apparatus, and has officially listed the Gülenists as a threat to national security, labeling them a “parallel structure” within the state apparatus.
Bozdağ said the government was trying to take measures to “reinforce the rule of law and improve democratic norms in order to protect the people’s will against illegal organizations.”
“However, many opposition media organizations, politicians, and other circles have turned their opposition to the AK Party into an ideology of hate, and are trying various ways to distort these measures,” he added.