DENİZ COŞAN / CAN UĞUR
The word has been put out widely among public that cults close to AKP have been in a serious effort to replace the place that is now available with the purge of Cemaat (Gülen community) following the coup attempt of July 15, which is alleged to have been carried out by the followers of exiled cleric Fethullah Gülen. Results of reports prepared by main opposition party CHP and our reporters demonstrate that several cults and religious groups have become stronger lately.
Claims about the cult named ‘Menzil’ is one of the most recent ones. Getting its name from a town in Adıyaman, Menzil is a branch of Naqshbandi. They have radio stations, TV channels, and journals. The institutions where the members of Menzil are on duty the most are Ministry of Health and the Social Security Institution. It is reasoned that many of Menzil members are placed in the health field because of the fact that the cult has so many devotees that are doctors. One of the most prominent names known for having an affinity to the group is Dr. Ahmet Çağıl, who lost his life in 2013. It is also known that the current Minister of Health Recep Akdağ had attended the funeral of Dr. Çağıl, who had close ties with the leader of Menzil, Muhammed Raşit Erol.
It has also been claimed that the ‘undersecretary crisis’ that was experienced when Akdağ became the Minister of Health again was also something that had to do with Menzil. According to these claims, having been brought to the position of Minister of Health in place of Mehmet Müezzinoğlu – who is not a member of Menzil -, Recep Akdağ had asked for then undersecretary Eyüp Gümüş to resign from the post. It is speculated that Minister Akdağ had wanted to replace Gümüş – also not a Menzil member like former Minister Müezzinoğlu – with the person whom he had worked with during his previous term. It has further been claimed that not accepting the request of Akdağ, undersecretary Gümüş had actually referred the situation to the Presidency at that time.
As listed by the Turkey’s Religion Affairs Presidency in 1996, the following are the most wide-spread and influential Nur groups in Turkey: Kurdoğlu group (led by Mehmet Kurdoğlu); Yeni Asya group (Yeni Asya newspaper and its network); Meşretev group (led by Mehmet Kırkıncı); İhlas group (led by Said Özdemir); Nesil group (led by Mehmet Fırıncı); and Gülen movement (led by Fethullah Gülen).
Claims on Kurdoğlu group having gained a place within the army were reported and several journalists also shared information on this group. Kurdoğlu group is mostly known for being a ‘very strict Nur group.’ As a conflict had emerged within the Nur community at large with regards to the differences such as between those who were deemed either as readers or writers of Said Nursi’s teachings. The group that gathered around Mehmet Kurdoğlu following these disagreements then began to be referred as the ‘Kurdoğlu group’.
Columnist Yılmaz: ‘Such claims must be researched seriously’
Columnist from Hürriyet newspaper Mehmet Y. Yılmaz has recently written the following: “It is observed that there is another cult active within the units of Turkish Armed Forces; and, that group is called Kurdoğlu Cemaat (Kurdoğlu Community)… Former chief of staff İlker Başbuğ had asserted during his term that members of armed forces who were found to be connected to this group (Kurdoğlu) had been purged in accordance with reports of MİT (Turkish National Intellegence). However, it seems that the purge has not been complete... If we do not want to see generals who take orders from an imam of a religious community in the future, such claims must be researched seriously...”
CHP MP Murat Emir: ‘Erdoğan’s effort in major labeling is due to his awareness’
CHP MP Murat Emir is a parliamentarian who has taken this issue to the Parliament through parliamentary questions. Talking to BirGün about the latest speculations in this regard, Emir stated the following: “AKP did not see any problem with feeding and growing the Gülen community and other religious cults for a long while. Indeed, they (AKP) used to reflect it as a success that state institutions were shared among cults and religious communities. The breaking point with regards to FETÖ was when the Cemaat (Gülenists) had actually began to aspire taking power to their own hands. Having a great awareness of this, Erdoğan will now pay great attention to the security of his own administration and draw the line carefully when designating the posts to these other cults and groups; and, it seems like his effort in the ongoing major labeling is because of his awareness.”
Confessions of Supreme Council of Religion Affairs
Having talked in front of the Parliamentary Commission on Coup Investigation recently, Prof. Dr. Mustafa Öztürk – faculty member at Çukurova University and member of Supreme Council of the Presidency of Religion Affairs – said: “Other structures are also in desire to replace (Gülenists) gradually. I know personally that the members of the Menzil community are quite willing and demanding and have been trying to build informal relations with state officials. I also know that other sects of Nur community have the same will. However, saying ‘you must look at religion with my perspective’ is a form of fascism.”
Another rising star is ‘İsmailağa community’
Yet another religious community that stands as a ‘rising star’ among such communities is the İsmailağa Cemaat. The name of this community is widely associated by many with the picture above. One day before the presidential elections, then Prime Minister Erdoğan had invited the leader of İsmailağa community Mahmut Ustaosmanoğlu. Once Erdoğan became the president and Davutoğlu became the prime minister, this time PM Davutoğlu appeared in pictures with the son of Mahmut Ustaosmanoğlu.
Currently, the community that represents the Nakshi traditions most widely in Turkey is the İsmailağa community. It is asserted that the group’s center is located across the patriarchate in İstanbul’s Fatih district. After the National Vision Movement, İsmailağa is considered to have quite of influence in right-wing politics. Following İsmailağa, other groups that also have leverage in politics of the right-wing are groups of İskenderpaşa, Erenköy, Kayseri Yahyalı, and Adıyaman Menzil.
Having increased its activeness along the same line with the rhetoric of Erdoğan, especially after the coup attempt of July 15, the İsmailağa community once shared the following message on its website by giving reference to Koran: “...as commanded in the 59th vers of the en-Nisa sura, we are going to obey the orders and suggestions of our honorable president and state officials; and, we are going to continue our support for them in determination, unless directed otherwise, by not leaving the squares vacant!”
Furthermore, it was revealed in e-mail messages leaked by RedHack as belonging to Minister of Energy Berat Albayrak that a person apperes to be emphasizing his affinity with the İsmailağa community when trying to get the support of Minister Albayrak. 5 days after the date of that message – on 13 January 2016 -, the name of that same person appears in the annoucement of Official Gazette (Resmi Gazete) as one of the three new assistant secretaries appointed to the Ministery of Energy and Natural Resources. And, this indeed strengthen the allegations with regards to those e-mails being true and belonging to the Minister. Other posts within state institutions taken by İsmailağa members also catch the eye.
Front-page article of BirGün on 29 October 2016, Saturday
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