Gülenist marriages arranged through catalogues

Gülenist marriages arranged through catalogues

According to the Army Aviation Command prosecutor’s indictment, the structuring of the movement of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen within the Turkish military was done through “cells, each led by an ‘abi’ [older brother].” Target students were selected while they were in junior high. They were prepared for military schools and their performances, graduation, and later careers were closely monitored. This was already well-known, but the Army Aviation Command indictment reiterated it. 

The role of the “abis” is analyzed in detail in the indictment. Accordingly, male officers were encouraged to marry women who were also members of the movement. The organization’s policy was to put pressure on other individuals, and the “abis” closely monitored the private lives of officers. 

The indictment states that even marriages were arranged by the Gülen movement. If a member decided to get married, he would tell the “imam” (more senior member) responsible for him. Future wives were picked from a catalogue with pictures of available female members of the movement. The dependency of the members to the network was therefore increased. If a member ever wished to quit the organization, his wife and children were instructed to distance themselves from him. 

One of the Super Cobra helicopter pilots who actively flew a helicopter during the July 15, 2016 coup attempt and who is now a confessor, has said members were indoctrinated into marrying within the organization. 

Another example comes from the statement - not included in this indictment - that “Major O.K.” gave to Ankara Chief Prosecutor Harun Kodalak on Aug. 11, 2016. Major O.K. is the person who tipped the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) off about coup preparations on the day of July 15. 

He said he got married to a member of the organization after an “abi” code-named “Ömer” showed him a picture of his future wife. “I imagine they showed my picture to her too,” he said. They married in Istanbul and held a wedding party at his village. The major said he hid the situation from his family, telling them he met his wife, who is a teacher, at university. 

Another interesting aspect is that O.K.’s children have two names. In his statement he said one of the names was his own selection while the other name was dictated by the “abi.” He said the second names of the children were selected by the leader of the organization, in other words Fethullah Gülen himself. 

If one did not obey to the social rules of the network, certain problems may have occurred. Lt. Col. Murat Bolat from the Army Aviation Command, who participated in the coup attempt, told prosecutors that he had an up-and-down relationship with the community. Bolat said that when he decided to get married the movement opposed it because his fiancée was not a member of the network. He was later told that because his wife was a non-member, after he took the military academy exams he was not able to pass and become a staff officer.

There are different examples. Another confessor, cobra pilot Captain Taha Fatih Çelik, said he met his wife in Istanbul and nobody arranged anything for him. 

We also gather from the statements that a member’s marital status was a key criterion taken into account in the formation of Gülenist cells. Married members and single members had different groups. When a single officer got married, he became a member of the cell with other married ones. 

Another interesting detail from the indictments relates to the “donations,” called “himmet” in the movement. While 10 percent of the salaries of single officers would go to the movement as “himmet,” this rate fell to 5 percent when the member got married.  

As can be seen, nothing was left to chance in the Gülen movement. Including private life, everything was under absolute control.