If you’re thinking of living in Turkey…
It seems Fethullah Gulan is not the only ‘cult leader’ the Turkish president is afraid of. Yesterday, Turkish police arrested around 200 followers of Adnan Oktar, an Islamic creationist and TV evangelist best known for his entourage of glamorous women with too few clothes on who he refers to as ‘kittens’. (Oktar denies that there has ever been any evolution and that would certainly appear to be the case for him personally.) mad though he is, it isn’t quite clear how Mr Oktar and his kittens were planning to overthrow the state.
Perhaps the interesting question is not whether Erdogan won the recent Presidential elections fairly (the answer is ‘sort of’) but what would have happened if he’d lost them fairly? In 2016 a small faction of the army staged an attempted coup. They were defeated. The reasons they gave for the coup attempt were ‘an erosion of secularism, elimination of democratic rule, disregard for human rights and Turkey’s loss of credibility in the international arena’, all of which accusations were broadly fair, but the international community stood behind Erdogan and US President Obama said that “the democratically elected government of Turkey should be supported”.
Erdogan and Fethullah Gulan, who lives in USA, were best mates until 2013 when Gulan started investigating Erdogan on corruption charges. Since then, there’s been a bit of a strain and the Gulan movement is a proscribed terrorist group in Turkey. Its aims – to promote education, religious tolerance and civil society – are unusual ones for terrorists, but Erdogan had his reasons.
None of the participants in the coup have expressed any allegiance to Gulan and Gulan himself denied having anything to do with it. No evidence that Gulan was behind the coup attempt has ever been presented and international intelligence agencies have generally dismissed the idea. Still, Erdogan immediately arrested and detained over 40,000 people and fired another 60,000 from their jobs on suspicion of siding with Gulan’s coup. 4,000 judges have been dismissed and/or arrested – that’s a quarter of the total number in Turkey, so Oktar may face a bit of a long wait now, for justice. Not that this will bother him too much, because, as well as denying evolution, Mr Oktar believes the whole action against him is “a game by the British deep state” which he says, (in a manner somehow reminiscent of David Ike’s claim that the British royal family are ‘blood sucking alien lizards’) has “sneakily disguised itself.” What as? Well, as Erdogan’s security services, I suppose.
I can’t help noticing that from some angles Mr Oktar looks quite like George Galloway, someone else who is troubled by ‘the deep British state’ – but I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.
See the full entry on Turkey in The Dwellers Guide To The Planet
If you’re interested in the state of press freedom in Turkey, The Turkey Journalists Society is a good place to start.