With an alleged military plan targeting Islamist Gülen movement and the ruling party dominating political discourse this week, a representative from the Gülen community said their goal was to include every Turk in the movement. "Our goal is to put every Turk in contact with our movement," said the Houston-based Gülen Institute Chairman Alp Aslandoğan, speaking to daily Milliyet on Thursday.
"The movement developed as a result of the public distrust in the government’s other institutions," he said. "The public realized that the movement wouldn’t abuse their money. Everybody is a potential target, and our door is open to everybody."
Turkey’s political agenda has recently been occupied with the alleged military plan that contains efforts to end the activities of religious movements, particularly the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, and the Gülen movement, which are accused of trying to undermine Turkey’s secular order and establish an Islamic state. The Gülen movement, an international network of people and groups sharing the ideas of Turkish preacher Fethullah Gülen, who resides in the United States, shares Islam Sunni beliefs and promotes a life based on religious beliefs. The order runs dozens of schools, especially in Africa.
In response to a question on the financial situation of the order, Aslandoğan said all who take part in the movement donated some amount of money in line with their incomes.
"A worker can donate $500 a year, but a businessman can donate $1 million per year," he said. "There is no rule for it." Noting that the donation tradition began during cordial home visits, he said every invited person was encouraged to bring people along for these visits. "This movement develops with such momentum that it will soon cover the majority of Turkey’s population," Aslandoğan said.
In response to claims that there were some partisan appointments, especially in the Education, Health and Justice ministries and that the staff are mostly chosen from the Gülen movement, he said partisan appointments occurred under every government. "In former administrations, however, our staff was excluded," he said.
The remarks coincided with the meeting of the Abant Platform, a convention claimed to have links with the Islamic Gülen movement. The meeting is being held in Bolu’s Abant district with the participation of top government officials, Turkey's chief EU negotiator Egemen Bağış and Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç. Speaking at the convention, Arınç said the alleged military plan implied a kind of treason to the public. "This is a kind of treason to the public, the Constitution and democracy," said Arınç.