UN Concerned About Albanian Deportations of Turkish ‘Gulenists’

Gjergj Erebara

United Nations human rights officials expressed concern about the Albanian authorities’ treatment of two Turks wanted by Ankara, one of whom was rapidly expelled while the other awaits deportation in custody.

Five United Nations human rights officials have sent a letter to the government of Albania to raise the cases of Harun Celik, a Turkish citizen who was deported from Albania to Turkey in January, and Selami Simsek, who is currently awaiting deportation in a closed migrant centre.

Both men are alleged by Turkish authorities to be members of exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen’s movement, which Ankara alleges is a terrorist organisation responsible for a failed coup plot in Turkey in 2016.

The letter from the UN officials, which was published on Tuesday in Albanian media but written on March 20, warned that Simsek’s rights could be violated if he is sent to Turkey.

It says that Simsek “is likely to face detention, prosecution and, potentially, torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, for his perceived or imputed affiliation to the Hizmet/Gulen movement”.

Simsek was initially arrested at Tirana Airport and served time for using falsified travel documents. He was released from prison on March 9, but for reasons that remain unclear, police kept him for several hours in a civilian car before transferring him to a closed centre for illegal emigrants near Tirana.

His supporters claim that that several high-level government officials demanded that an immediate expulsion order be issued.

His laywer, Elton Hyseni, told BIRN on Tuesday that he has not yet received any official information about the case.

“We do not yet know whether his request for asylum has been accepted or not. [The authorities] have not explained why they are keeping him in the closed migration centre,” Hyseni said.

Albanian government spokesperson Endri Fuga did not reply to BIRN’s request for a comment by the time of publication.

The letter from the five UN officials also questioned Albania’s deportation of Celik to Turkey.

“We are equally concerned that Mr. Celik appears to have been expelled for his alleged connection to Hizmet/Gulen movement, reportedly without any due process guarantees afforded by relevant legislation,” it says.

Albanian police put Celik on a plane to Istanbul on January 1 despite his pleas for asylum. He had been a teacher in a Gulen-linked school in Kazakhstan, then attempted to escape to Canada using a false visa. He was arrested in Albania in 2018 and served time for falsifying travel documents.

His extradition to Turkey was described as a major human rights violation by the Albanian opposition, which linked the unusually prompt decision by police to send him to Turkey with the friendly connections between Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The letter to the Albanian government was signed by Luciano Hazan, chair-rapporteur of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, Leigh Toomey, vice-chair of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Felipe González Morales, special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, and Nils Melzer, special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
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When I met a Gandhian ‘Jihadi’ in America

Sudheendra Kulkarni

Fethullah Gulen, a self-exiled Turkish scholar, is using his movement to propagate Greater Jihad, the most misunderstood concept in Islam.

The holy month of Ramadan is here, and our Muslim brethren are engaged in what is irrefutably the largest collective act of fasting and praying on the planet. It is a beautiful period of observance that has been eclipsed this year by the coronavirus pandemic sweeping across the globe. Yet its intensity is not dimmed. I recently came across a profound reflection on this by a renowned US-based Sufi Islamic preacher, which rekindled the memory of my meeting with him a few years ago, and provided the impulse to write this article. But first, a few lines from his Ramadan message.

“The coronavirus has changed how Ramadan looks. But it will not change our faith in God. Each of us should take the extra time and space afforded by the pandemic’s social distancing measures as an opportunity for further examination of our connection with God, our families and our core values… This is a time to realize our interdependence as nations, as communities and as inhabitants of a global ecosystem – a time to recognize that we all are members of the human family and each have the opportunity to show the true potential of humanity. As we enter this holy month, it is crucial that we look forward with hope and not despair, which stifles people and progress. Humanity has overcome great challenges in the past, and we will find ways to overcome this challenge, too. If we focus on the opportunities this pandemic presents, we will be able to keep our spirits high and reach the end of this tunnel much quicker.”

Who is this man?

When I met him, the first thing I noticed was the round face with an outsized nose. His head was covered by the Islamic skullcap because the only crown he recognises is that of the All-Powerful Allah. His penetrating eyes looked smaller by the age-related bulge under his eyelids. At 81, he looked frail, the frailty accentuated by a fever he was running. The previous day, our appointment had been cancelled because of his high fever, and I had returned from his abode in the idyllic woods of Pennsylvania to my hostel in New Jersey. If he chose, he could have taken more rest and not met me. He had every reason to. But instead, Fethullah Gulen, one of the most enlightened scholars of Sufi Islam in the world, granted me an audience on that memorable evening in September 2018.

The writer with Fethullah Gulen at his residence in Pennsylvania in September 2018.

Denouncing terror in the name of Islam

Ever since I learnt about him in the 2000s, I had fostered a fascination for this Turkish guru, who is reverentially called Hodjaefendi(Master Teacher) by millions of his followers. My respect for him had stemmed from his stern, unambiguous denunciation of Osama bin Laden and his army of terrorists. In my article about him (An Islamic Voice of Reason and Reform in America) in The Times of India in 2005, I had said here was an influential Islamic preacher who had called bin Laden a “monster”.

“He has sullied the bright face of Islam,” Gulen had said after the 9/11 terror attacks in the US. “The reparation for the damage he has caused requires years of work. Substituting the Islamic cause for his own cravings, he is committing monstrous acts.”

My article praised him as a strong advocate of interfaith harmony, and as a firm believer in the reconcilability of Islam and secularism – understood in the Indian sense of Sarva Pantha Samabhaav or equal respect for all faiths, and not as practised by Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey who tried to banish religion both from the state and society. “Religion,” according to Gulen, “is a road that brings everyone together in brotherhood.”

Regardless of how adherents of different religions follow their faith in their daily lives, all religions exalt life-sustaining values, such as peace, love, tolerance, forgiveness, compassion, human rights and justice. “Most of these values,” he affirms, “are accorded the highest precedence in the messages brought by Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, as well as in the messages of the Buddha and even Zarathustra, Lao-Tzu, Confucius and Hindu prophets. As a Muslim, I accept all prophets and books sent to different peoples throughout history, and regard belief in them as an essential principle of being Muslim.”

Gulen condemns terrorists carrying out barbaric acts in the name of Islam because of his conviction that evil means cannot justify seemingly noble religious ends. “A Muslim cannot say, ‘I will kill a person and then go to Heaven.’ God’s approval cannot be won by killing people. I regret to say that some religious leaders and immature Muslims have no other weapon than their fundamentalist interpretation of Islam.”

In his book For the Sake of Allah – The Origin, Development, and Discourse of the Gulen Movement, Professor Anwar Alam, an Indian political scientist who taught for many years in a Turkish university, writes: “Like Gandhi, Gulen firmly believes [that] one cannot secure higher moral and ethical ends by immoral, unethical and illegal means. For Gulen, like Gandhi, the very selection of rightful means is an end in itself.”

A recluse in the mountains of Pennsylvania

Gulen moved from Turkey to the United States in 1999, where he still lives as a spiritual recluse, praying, writing (he has authored over 80 books) and guiding his loyal (mostly Turkish) followers. He hardly travels. He rarely gives interviews. Yet, he inspires one of the world’s biggest social movements, called Hizmet (which means service in Turkish).

Until Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan cracked down on this movement in 2016, accusing Gulen of masterminding a failed military coup, its thousands of dedicated volunteers had been running schools and other activities in more than 100 countries around the world. This, his followers believe, is retribution for Gulen’s 2013 criticism of the corruption scandal hanging over Erdogan, his family members and prominent politicians and bureaucrats. Others see it differently. They believe that Gulen “was an ally of Erdogan” who helped him “consolidate power”.

In 2013, Hizmet’s volunteers in India (who run educational and peace-building activities under the banner of the Indialogue Foundation) invited me to visit Turkey to give a series of talks on Mahatma Gandhi. There is something mystical about Turkey, a land of fabulous beauty that is the civilisational confluence between Asia and Europe and between Christianity and Islam. To me, this visit was an opportunity to see the penetration of Gulen’s followers in Turkish society. What followed was an invitation from the Journalists and Writers Foundation and Alliance for Shared Values, two of the most active organisations in Gulen’s movement, to participate in a conference on sustainable development in New York, coinciding with the UN General Assembly in 2018. I accepted the invitation with a request to the organisers to arrange my meeting with Gulen. I was overjoyed when they conceded my request.

Conference over, they took me to New Jersey, where their sister organisation runs the largest of its 100 charter schools in the US. Nestled in a forest, the school has an ideal setting for implementing Gulen’s holistic philosophy of education. (“Education through learning and leading a commendable way of life,” he writes in his book Toward a Global Civilisation of Love and Tolerance, “is a sublime duty. By fulfilling this, we are able to attain the rank of true humanity and to become a beneficial element of humanity.”)

They had arranged my stay at a hostel with frugal facilities on the top floor of the school, which is meant for Hizmet volunteers from around the world. In New Jersey alone, they were running over half a dozen organisations, among them a nice bookstore and a publishing house that brings out a bimonthly magazine called The Fountain, a disaster management training centre, a centre for promoting Turkish culture, and a centre for organising dialogue among various religious and ethnic groups in the US.

What struck me was that, despite being deeply religious, they were modern in their outlook and admirably professional in their voluntary jobs. Indeed, this is how Gulen wants Turkey – and all Muslim societies – to be: To know that “the interpretation of Islam [by others] depends on our behaviour and conduct”. And that conduct is perfected with the practice of “jihad”, which, unfortunately, is the most misunderstood Islamic concept. Professor Anwar Alam tells us in his book: “Within the Hizmet movement the notion of jihad is associated with Greater Jihad, which calls for the inner struggle to purify one’s heart and undertake positive action that is beneficial for Islam and humanity.”

Two days later, Suleyman Kaya, who used to run Indialogue Foundation’s activities in Mumbai, drove me to Gulen’s residence at the Golden Generation Worship and Retreat Center on Pocono Mountains, where he still teaches interpretation of the Quran, jurisprudence in Islam, among other courses. The entrance to the property was heavily guarded and the security procedures were extremely rigorous. (“Erdogan’s people…,” I was later told in hushed tones.)

As the sun had already set, I regretted that I couldn’t see how Gulen’s “ashram” looked. When we entered the main building, which includes his living quarters, we were told: “We’re sorry the meeting cannot take place. Hodjaefendi is not keeping well. The meeting may not take place tomorrow too, since the doctors have advised him complete rest.” We drove back, uncertain whether we would be lucky the following day.

‘Gandhi’s life had a deep influence on me’

We took our chances. The evening was glorious. The estate and the mountains beyond were aglow with golden sunlight. Silence and serenity filled the pure air. As we entered the main building, good news awaited me: “Even though Hodjaefendi is still unwell, he wants to meet you.” We were led to a large prayer hall, which, though full of devotees, was tranquil. Being the only non-Turk and non-Muslim among them, I sat in a far corner. But as Gulen walked into the hall, he spotted me and signalled with his hands to sit next to him. He then led the Islamic prayer, which was long and interspersed with deep spells of meditative silence.

Anwar Alam’s book tells us that “Gulen does dhikr [rhythmic repetition of the name of God and His attributes] for five hours, in addition to reading the Quran in a silent manner.” Here is yet another significant bit of information from his book: “Hizmet, unlike the Tablighi Jamaat, is not a proselytising movement.”

After the prayer, I was led to another hall, where Gulen receives his visitors. Welcoming me with a warm handshake, he surprised me again, asking me to sit in his chair. He himself took a less prominent chair and, with the help of a translator, said that he was very happy to receive a “friend” from India. He praised India as the land that cradled an ancient and rich civilisation, and one that became home to people of many religions coexisting peacefully. I said, “Thank you, Your Holiness, for giving me this rare honour to meet you, in spite of doctors’ advice to take rest. I have come here as a devout Hindu and a self-appointed representative of all the people in India who believe in the noble values you cherish – above all, the value of dialogue and mutual understanding for peace in the world.”

I then told him about my passionate conviction in, and my activities aimed at promoting, Hindu-Muslim harmonisation and India-Pakistan normalisation, the two being inter-related parts of a common historical agenda. When he heard the word Pakistan, the look in his eyes grew more intense. I therefore briefly explained the nature of the problem between our two countries, the wars we have fought, the fruitless search for a just and humane solution to the Kashmir dispute, the bloodshed due to terrorism and other types of violence, the shameful reality of poverty and socio-economic inequity in both countries, and the imperative need to find a lasting solution for peace and development in all of South Asia.

“I pray for peace between India and Pakistan,” Gulen said. “Indeed, the entire world is restless for peace.” At this point, I presented to him my book on Mahatma Gandhi and said, “Gandhi was a pious Hindu, but he had the highest regard for Islam and Prophet Mohammed. He sacrificed his life for Hindu-Muslim unity.” Gulen remarked that he had great respect for Gandhi and his philosophy of nonviolence. “It strongly resonates with Islam’s message of peace, mercy and universal brotherhood. His life, especially his insistence on peaceful resolution of conflicts and his efforts to build bridges between Muslims and Hindus, has had a deep influence on me.” I then made an appeal: “Your Holiness, 2019-’20 marks Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary. May I request you to send a commemorative message to Indians?” He agreed. His tribute, sent on Gandhi Jayanti, is reproduced here.

Fethullah Gulen’s message on the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

In deference to his health condition, I took his leave sooner than I wanted. But before I left, Gulen said, “Come again, and next time stay with us here.” I was later told by his associates that I was one of the very few Indians to have met him.

Said Nursi: Gulen’s guru and his jihad of nonviolence

What explains Gulen’s deep faith in peace, nonviolence, human dignity and inter-faith tolerance and dialogue as the cornerstones of Islam? For answer, we have to know something about the ‘Guru’ who influenced him – Bediuzzaman Said Nursi (1878-1960), one of the greatest Islamic theologians of the last century (Bediuzzaman, an honorific, means “the wonder of the time”.) Nursi’s Risale-i Nur (Message of Light), a 6,000-page commentary on the Quran, on which he worked for 40 years (many of them spent in Ataturk’s prisons) is regarded as a definitive treatise on Islamic modernity.

In his book Insights from the Risale-i-Nur – Said Nursi’s Advice for Modern Believers, Thomas Michel, a Catholic priest who worked under Pope John Paul II as head of the Vatican Office for Relations with Muslims, writes: “[An] aspect of Nursi’s thought I find attractive is his strong rejection of violence. He came to the conclusion that the days of the ‘jihad of the sword’ are over. The only appropriate way for Muslims to struggle for their beliefs was the ‘jihad of the word’ or the ‘jihad of the pen’, that is, through personal witness, persuasion and rational argument. Nursi was convinced of the primacy of love in Islam. The time for enmity and hostility is finished.” In particular, Nursi urged unity between Muslims and Christians for the common purpose of achieving peace and global fraternity.

Nursi gave this call in a famous Friday sermon he delivered in 1911 to over 10,000 worshippers at the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus. This sermon is as historic as the place where he delivered it. The Umayyad Mosque, one of the oldest and largest in the world, was built on the site of a Christian basilica dedicated to John the Baptist, where he was laid to rest. He is honoured as a prophet by both Christians and Muslims. I had an opportunity to see this mosque when I accompanied former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his visit to Syria in 2003.

In his book An Islamic Jihad of Nonviolence: Said Nursi’s Model, Salid Sayligan, a scholar of inter-religious studies, puts Nursi in league with Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, and Nelson Mandela. “Where Gandhi’s legacy is emblemized by the Salt March, Mandela’s by his election to presidency, and King’s by his speeches like I Have a Dream, Nursi’s resides in his magnum opus, the Risale-i-Nur, and the community that nurtured its formation, disseminated it, and continues to embody its teachings in the present. That community upholds jihad as he understood and taught it: striving on the Godward path via positive action.”

In the venerable tradition of Nursi and other great teachers of Islam, Gulen has been continuing, both individually and through his Hizmet movement, to practise and propagate the true meaning of Islamic jihad. He and his followers have encountered many hurdles and hardships along the way, the worst of all being the brutal crackdown by Turkey’s dictatorial president. Once Gulen’s admirer, Erdogan has become his sworn enemy, even branding him a terrorist. Tens of thousands of Gulen’s followers have been jailed in Turkey, and a large number of them have sought refuge abroad. Surely, the Gulen movement will learn the right lessons from this most painful experience and emerge stronger in service of humanity.

Ramadan is a month for offering prayers to the Almighty. I pray for the good health of Hodjaefendi Fethullah Gulen and for more power to his army of peacebuilders.

Sudheendra Kulkarni, who served as an aide to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, is the author of Music of the Spinning Wheel: Mahatma Gandhi’s Manifesto for the Internet Age. He is the founder of Forum for a New South Asia – Powered by India-China-Pakistan Cooperation. His Twitter handle is @SudheenKulkarni. He welcomes comments at sudheenkulkarni@gmail.com.
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Growing number of Turkish citizens apply for asylum in Germany

By Christina Goßner | EURACTIV.de | translated by Daniel Eck

Since the attempted coup in Turkey in summer 2016, the number of asylum applications by Turkish citizens in Germany has increased significantly. In 2019, Turkish asylum seekers were the third-most-registered group, after Syrians and Iraqis, according to the country’s agency for migration and refugees (BAMF). EURACTIV Germany reports.

“On the basis of the information available, we assume that the high number of asylum applications by Turkish citizens is also due to the political situation in Turkey,” the ministry of the interior, building and community (BMI) stated at the request of EURACTIV Germany.

According to BAMF figures for 2019, about a quarter of all Turkish asylum seekers were granted refugee protection because they were recognised as fugitives due to persecution, which is more often the case than for refugees coming from other countries.

As the number of asylum applications increases, so does the rate of protection. However, this does not apply to all asylum seekers.

Different rates of protection

“For many groups in Turkey, state persecution has intensified in recent years,” according to Wiebke Judith of the NGO PRO ASYL. While until 2015 it was mainly members of the Kurdish minority who applied for asylum in Germany, according to current figures from the BAMF, most asylum applications are now filed by non-Kurdish Turkish citizens.

Since the attempted coup in 2016, mostly journalists, academics, members of the opposition parties and (alleged) supporters of the Gülen movement, inspired by US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is wanted by Turkey, have been persecuted and their applications for asylum are most frequently granted.

“This is due to the fact that all repressive measures against supporters of the Gülen movement in Turkey are documented in an accessible system,” Christopher Wohnig, who represents Turkish asylum seekers, told EURACTIV Germany.

In contrast, members of the Kurdish minority find it harder to prove persecution, which is why, according to the lawyer, the rate of positive asylum decisions for this group is significantly lower.

Many state officials have fled

Civil servants accused of being close to the Gülen movement have a particularly good chance of being recognised as refugees in Germany, says Wohnig. According to the country’s interior ministry, almost 2,000 holders of special civil servant passports applied for asylum by the end of last year, and more than 300 of them hold diplomatic passports.

However, an increase in asylum applications by Turkish citizens is not observed only in Germany. While in 2017, some 15,500 applications of Turkish citizens were registered throughout the EU, the following year, there were already about 23,000. Throughout the EU, Turkish nationals rank as the seventh biggest group of migrants.

Meanwhile, Europe is particularly concerned about the significant deterioration in the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary in Turkey, particularly with basic procedural rights being suspended, as the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, noted in a report published in February this year.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]
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Gülen: The coronavirus changed how Ramadan looks. But it will not change our faith in God

By Fethullah Gülen

The Muslim holy month of Ramadan will be different this year. Around the world, mosques will be closed, when they would normally have worshipers spilling out onto the street. Extended families will remain apart, when they would typically gather for Iftar to break the fast and share homemade treats. And shopping malls, cafes and streets will be eerily quiet, when they would normally come alive after dark.

Ramadan still began on Thursday evening, though, and in the early hours on Friday morning, households gathered, as they have for centuries, to share a sleepy suhur — the pre-dawn meal.

Even as the world grapples with COVID-19, the yearly rituals of Ramadan will continue. Throughout the holy month, most of the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims will fast between dawn and sunset, spend time in Quranic recitation, self-reflection and prayer in an effort to become closer to God, and give thanks for our blessings. But this year, the prescribed exceptions from fasting for young children, travelers, pregnant mothers and anyone who is sick will now be extended to those feeling symptoms of COVID-19.

And this year, our prayers will include special emphasis on the health care workers, emergency workers and other essential employees who are on the front lines of the fight to protect our communities. In the eyes of God, saving human lives and benefitting humanity are most noble endeavors: The Quran likens saving a life to saving the whole of humanity, and the Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be God’s peace and blessings) says that the best of humans are those who benefit other humans.

Our obligation to help and support those in need also takes on added meaning this year as our neighbors and communities face sickness, grief, economic hardship and the loneliness of self-isolation.

Perhaps the most difficult obligation for many, though, will be forgoing the long-planned gatherings of the season, in order to comply with precautions issued by authorities. But following these measures is a duty of our citizenship and a necessity of our social responsibility to respect God’s laws in the universe. For instance, the Prophet Muhammad — whose belief and trust in God was beyond description — even advised quarantining a town in the event of an infectious disease.

Each of us should take the extra time and space afforded by the pandemic’s social distancing measures as an opportunity for further examination of our connection with God, our families and our core values. This time offers a mandatory retreat from the busy nature of our daily lives and a chance to turn toward God, deepening our faith, knowledge and practice. I hope that imams will offer reminders about these opportunities to their congregations.

This period also forces us to rely on the internet and the technologies built upon it. Our young generations have been well-versed in these technologies ahead of their parents. Throughout history, messengers of God and those who strive for the enlightenment of humanity always used the available cultural tools and practices to spread their messages. We also must take this time to connect with our communities in new ways, including making our spiritual resources accessible to younger generations using their language and their familiar technologies.

The challenges of responding to the pandemic and altering our lives might push some of us to seek people to blame or to criticize. As we enter Ramadan, it is paramount that we devote ourselves to helping those in need, rather than finding others to blame. Even as people, groups or nations with whom we have had past differences may be suffering, each of us must reject as inhumane the thought that anyone deserved a calamity.

In a globalized world, nobody is isolated from a potent problem, be it environmental, medical or economic. This is a time to share data, and to collaborate to find solutions. This is a time to realize our interdependence as nations, as communities and as inhabitants of a global ecosystem — a time to recognize that we all are members of the human family and each have the opportunity to show the true potential of humanity.

As we enter this holy month, it is crucial that we look forward with hope and not despair, which stifles people and progress. Humanity has overcome great challenges in the past, and we will find ways to overcome this challenge, too. If we focus on the opportunities this pandemic presents, we will be able to keep our spirits high and reach the end of this tunnel much quicker.

Our observance of Ramadan will necessarily be different this year. But in many ways it will be like any other year: We will fast, we will pray, we will recite our holy book and we will take time for reflection and charity throughout the holy month. May God enable us to benefit fully from the feast of bounty in Ramadan.

Translated by Alp Aslandogan, the executive director of the Alliance for Shared Values.

Fethullah Gülen is an Islamic scholar, preacher and social advocate.
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Bosnian Court Lifts Movement Restrictions on Turkish Citizen

A court in Bosnia and Herzegovina has terminated restrictions on the movement of Turkish citizen Fatih Keskin, previously imposed by the Service for Foreigners’ Affairs following his arrest and subsequent release in December last year, the court told BIRN BiH.

Wanted in Turkey, Keskin was arrested on December 3, 2019 and transferred to the migrant detention centre of the Service for Foreigners’ Affairs after the Service revoked his residence permit. 

The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina ordered his release on December 16 but the Service for Foreigners’ Affairs – acting on an intelligence service assessment that he posed a threat to national security – required Keskin to report to its Bihac office in northwestern Bosnia three times a week and restricted his movements to the area between Bihac and the capital, Sarajevo.

The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina ordered the restrictions lifted.

“Lower-instance decisions by administrative bodies have been annulled, and all the prohibitive measures imposed on him have been terminated. Previous decisions by administrative bodies have been annulled and they are not in force anymore,” Keskin’s lawyer, Ahmet Efendic, told BIRN.

Efendic said he could not rule out new measures being imposed given the Intelligence and Security Agency, OSA, had not changed its assessment. 

“It is still in force,” he said. “The position of the Service for Foreigners’ Affairs is that, as long as the assessment is in force, they would have to impose prohibitive measures.”

Keskin is an employee of Una-Sana College in Bihac, part of the Richmond Park Group in Sarajevo. Richmond is the legal successor to Bosna Sema educational institutions, which has been linked to the exiled Turkish cleric accused of orchestrating a failed coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2016

The US-based cleric, Fethullah Gulen, denies any role in the abortive coup, but schools linked to him around the world have come under intense pressure from Ankara.

Efendic said the law firm where he works represents four other Turkish nationals who also had their residence permits revoked following a visit to Sarajevo by Erdogan in July 2019 but faced no prohibitive measures on their movements. The decisions to revoke residence have each been overturned.

The Service for Foreigners’ Affairs did not reply to a request from BIRN BiH to confirm how many proceedings are in process against Turkish citizens and whether any have been concluded.
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Al-Azhar has examined and approved all the works of Mr. Gulen

Egyptian scholar Sabr Abdel Fattah Al-Mishrif published a very important article about Fethullah Gulen’s ideology on nesemat.com, zamanarabic.com and in the Arabic media. Making very important findings about the Hizmet Movement and Fethullah Gulen, Al-Mishrif noted that Al-Azhar University, one of the most respected Islamic Sciences centers in the world, and the Islamic Research Association, has examined the works of Gulen, and that found no contradiction to the school of Sunni Islam. He noted that it did not make sense for the Turkish Ministry of Religious Affairs to report and act according to the wishes of President Tayyip Erdogan.

Al-Mishrif’s the article is as follows:

It is a hypocritical morality to go out of the circle that Allah made halal/allowed at the time of hostility. Our Prophet (pbuh) stated in a hadith regarding the hypocrites: “When they are hostile, when they are corrupt, they go out of the halal circle”. Attitudes such as making accusations without evidence, overflowing with the ambition of revenge, humiliating others, betraying, and attempting to move people away from them are among their most important qualities. At the same time, this situation contradicts concepts such as dignity, affection and tolerance that Islam promotes.

If such an issue (accusations without evidence) arises from the communities who do not know the basic principles and tolerance of the Islamic religion, it may be excused, but such a situation exists from an institution that aims to spread the tolerance among the people, representing the consciousness of Islam and aiming to spread its tolerance, and to live the society together, in such a situation, no apology can be accepted for that institution.

What Happened to the Turkish Ministry of Religious Affairs?

The Ministry of Religious Affairs was an exemplary institution in a period when it made programs to improve the morality of the society, especially to save the young people from various viruses such as drugs and to support such positive activities carried out by civil society organizations. While for a period of time, the Ministry of Religious Affairs stayed away from political movements in the country, during this period, they plunged into the ugly swamp of domestic politics. And they were ready to organize social and spiritual plots against all those who were not agreeing with the regime. So much so that they have been organizing panels to organize conferences in order to defame the enemies of the political regime, using the foundation’s financial resources. However, all their activities are based on information about lies and slander, which is obvious even when viewed with the evilest eye.

Those who follow events in Turkey will know that it is natural for The Ministry of Religious Affairs to be in line with Erdogan’s slanders against the Hizmet Movement. However, it is not reasonable or understandable for Erdogan to publicly describe the Hizmet Movement as a perverted community in front of the cameras and criticize Mr. Gulen as a scholar.

It is strange that they are not even ashamed of themselves, trying to deceive people in this way. Because until recently, they were praising the work of Mr. Gulen and the Hizmet Movement and trying to participate in all their activities.

God made me witness these two periods. Yeni Umit and Hira magazines gave me the opportunity to participate in the programs organized in many provinces in Turkey, such as Istanbul, Gaziantep and Izmir. I prepared many reports about these conferences. The most striking aspect of these programs was the participation of clerics from all countries of the world. At the forefront of these participants there was also the Turkish Ministry of Religious Affairs, and other prominent personalities and political leaders on behalf of Turkey. They gave the opening speeches and praised the participating guests with the activities of the Hizmet Movement that have been going on for forty years. They were especially talking about the scientific personality of Mr. Gulen and his contribution to the civil society.

Mr. Gulen, Through the Eyes of The Arab Intellectuals

In one of my articles I analyzed Mr. Gulen’s discourses during the past crisis and noted that Mr. Gulen not only didn’t have a secret personality, but he was also one of the most prominent Turkish figures of the world. Therefore, his life, his background, his view and his talks with different segments of the public, his sermons, lectures, interviews, his works, and his published articles are open to public. Everyone, especially those who love and sympathizers, tries to follow him. These works are printed in Cairo after the approval of the Islamic Research Association, which is affiliated with Al-Azhar University. The Islamic Studies Association has written reports that the works of Mr. Gulen are not in any way contrary to the idea of the way of the prophet and the Sunni Islam. Most of these works are being cultivated by Arab intellectuals, and many conferences, panels and meetings related to these works have taken place. One of the most important of these meetings was the conference titled “The Future of Reform in the Islamic World and Fethullah Gulen” within the Arab League in 2009. Many important figures from Egypt and from different geographies and opinion leaders attended this conference. At this conference, the opinions about Mr. Gulen’s ideas and personality are as follows.

The answer to the questions “Who are we and who are the others? How should a dialogue be established with others?” should be sought. Those who are investigating the Gulen Movement can find the keys to unbind these issues. (Ahmed Tayyib – Al-Azhar Sheikh)Fethullah Gulen’s devotion to Islam, the Turkish history, culture and traditions of its people, by my opinion, all represent his experience with social and religious adherence to universal values prevailing in the Islamic geography. The fact that Mr. Gülen grasped the appropriate ones from the western intellectual within the framework of the size of the Islamic culture and belief constraints has contributed greatly to this culture. One of the most important reflections of his understanding is that he handles Islamic culture by spreading Islamic culture through formal education by combining religious education and positive education. This movement is a movement that needs to be taken and applied in our geography and benefiting from the field of education. We need respond to this call (Undersecretary – Tariq Al-Bishri – Egypt).

Moreover, scholars and enthusiasts from different parts of the world talked about the personality, works and Hizmet Movement of Mr. Gulen with praise. One of them is Muhammad Imara, an Islamic thinker and writer. He says: Because of the fact that the mind is a light put in the heart of our Islamic civilization, and the dignity of Mr. Gulen is a fruit of our civilization, he has gathered wisdom and mind and prudence and heart together. Because the Quran determines his method in his life and idea. His life is a clean word, his original is fixed, and his branches are like a tree that has spread all over it and bears fruit at all times with the permission of Allah. Since the revelation of the Qur’an has always been with faith and deeds, this pious scholar, along with his friends, has embraced the words as great works and fertile lives and opened them like flowers all over the world we live in.

In the eyes of others, the life of Mr. Gulen shows us that he has never changed his principles from the first day to this day and that he has gone on a single road. He is an inviter who calls to Islam, just as before. He is a mujaddid (renewer or regenerator) about the application of Islamic discourse in the modern age and has never crossed lines. Despite of Turkey’s fluctuating period with philosophical and intellectual currents, Mr. Gulen has always been stable on his path. Also, Mr. Gulen has studied the different intellectual and philosophical trends (right-wing, leftist, religious, liberal, communist, nationalist) in his country and abroad, and he has become a very knowledgeable person of all the problems of faith and existence faced by humanity. It is understood from his conferences and the books he wrote at the end of the sixties that Mr. Gulen had deep understanding about these issues and he was successfully discussing about them. One of these is the books of “The Doubts of the Century” and the other is the “Theory of Evolution and the Fact of Creation.” In these works, we see that the theories that have been occupying the world for a long time have been broke down as incorrect using science, religion and logic. For many years, humanity had used these theories for political and philosophical purposes. Another work written by Mr. Gulen in this field is “Metaphysical Dimension of Being” and “Human in Depression”.

Why Mr. Gulen’s Books Are Banned in Turkey?

As mentioned earlier, many scholars, researchers and thinkers read the books of Mr. Gulen, attended conferences and panels, and then shared their views and impressions about the Hizmet Movement. Articles related to the Hizmet Movement can be found on this website: www.nesemat.com.

For this reason, the first job of the Turkish government and the affiliated Ministry of Religious Affairs was to ban the printing of Mr. Gulen’s books and to prevent access to the media affiliated to the Hizmet Movement. But all religious books and publications in Turkey have different content. The main issue here is the concern of the revelation of unfounded lies and accusations raised by the regime and the Religious Affairs.

Mr. Gulen is a Hanafi Sunni Muslim

As the sources of knowledge and ingenuity he looked at great scholars who lived in Turkey and has the scientific resources owned by sheikhs and opinion leaders. Many researchers have written about the ingenuity and knowledge sources of Mr. Gulen. Sulayman Ashrati, the Algerian mufti, summarized them in three basic sources. Firstly; The Qur’an, the sunnah, and Sufism. The second is modern world culture and ingenuity. The third one is historical knowledge and historical adventure of civilizations.

Likewise, many authors in the Islamic and Arab world wrote articles related to Mr. Gulen and his movement. One of the most prominent Moroccan scholars, Farid Al Ansari, in his novel “The Return of the Cavalry”, wrote about Mr. Gulen’s life. Likewise, Egyptian thinker Abdulhalim Uveys, Iraqi literary writer Edip Eddebbag, and Suleyman Ashrati, and many other scholars have written about Mr. Gulen’s life. The Gulen Movement is shown as an example for the development of the community and society through communique and invitation.

Beyond these works, in some universities, especially Al Azhar, many master’s and doctoral theses on the subject of Hizmet and Mr. Gulen have been published. The most recent of these is the master’s thesis titled “Fethullah Gulen’s Communiqué Experience and Community Development” addressed by researcher Muhammed Yasin at Al Azhar University. During the defense of the thesis, the jury members praised this movement by emphasizing that the Hizmet Movement, which Mr. Gulen has established, is in line with the prophet’s way and the Sunni Islam.

In addition, a doctoral dissertation on “The Efforts of Mr. Gülen in the Communiqué” was also recorded at Al Azhar University. Prior to these, many other theses about “Hizmet Movement and Mr. Gülen” were published as masters and doctoral theses in Morocco, Algeria, Yemen, Jordan, Sudan, Lebanon and other Arab countries.

Al Azhar Scholars’ Views on “The Infinite Light”

Al Azhar scholars are very interested in the works of Mr. Gulen. The Infinite Light, which describes the blessed life of our Prophet (pbuh), is one of the popular books among these scholars. Dr. Fathi Hijazi, an Al-Azhar is a scholar, taught this book in his own courses and these classes were published on Al-Azhar’s YouTube channel. In addition, Egyptian scholar Dr. Ali Juma who participated in many programs organized by Hira and Yeni Ümit magazines, responded to the unpretentious accusations of The Turkish Ministry of Religious Affairs, made praises about Mr. Gulen and the Hizmet Movement and recommended Gulen’s works to his friends.

The troubles and difficulties that only the people of higher spiritual degree will endure are the fate of the people struggling to spread the light of religion. They feel the pain and sorrow of their people more than themselves. They are more aware of the dangers surrounding them. They search for solutions to eliminate problems of the society.

They love helping others live on the right path than they love their own lives. In this way, they do not mind those haters and cruel tyrants who slander for their grudge and accuse them of infidelity and mischief. The determination of Abu Hamid El Ghazali regarding this issue was as follows: “Don’t esteem highly those who are not envied and who are not slandered.” Which inviter is a more beautiful and intelligent inviter than our Prophet. Which word is more faithful than the word of Allah. As the poet says: “Salvation of all enemy is hoped, other than the grudge of the enemy…”

The post Al-Azhar has examined and approved all the works of Mr. Gulen appeared first on Hizmet News.
Source: Hizmetnews

Al-Azhar has examined and approved all the works of Mr. Gulen

Egyptian scholar Sabr Abdel Fattah Al-Mishrif published a very important article about Fethullah Gulen’s ideology on nesemat.com, zamanarabic.com and in the Arabic media. Making very important findings about the Hizmet Movement and Fethullah Gulen, Al-Mishrif noted that Al-Azhar University, one of the most respected Islamic Sciences centers in the world, and the Islamic Research Association, has examined the works of Gulen, and that found no contradiction to the school of Sunni Islam. He noted that it did not make sense for the Turkish Ministry of Religious Affairs to report and act according to the wishes of President Tayyip Erdogan.
Al-Mishrif’s the article is as follows:
It is a hypocritical morality to go out of the circle that Allah made halal/allowed at the time of hostility. Our Prophet (pbuh) stated in a hadith regarding the hypocrites: “When they are hostile, when they are corrupt, they go out of the halal circle”. Attitudes such as making accusations without evidence, overflowing with the ambition of revenge, humiliating others, betraying, and attempting to move people away from them are among their most important qualities. At the same time, this situation contradicts concepts such as dignity, affection and tolerance that Islam promotes.
If such an issue (accusations without evidence) arises from the communities who do not know the basic principles and tolerance of the Islamic religion, it may be excused, but such a situation exists from an institution that aims to spread the tolerance among the people, representing the consciousness of Islam and aiming to spread its tolerance, and to live the society together, in such a situation, no apology can be accepted for that institution.
What Happened to the Turkish Ministry of Religious Affairs?
The Ministry of Religious Affairs was an exemplary institution in a period when it made programs to improve the morality of the society, especially to save the young people from various viruses such as drugs and to support such positive activities carried out by civil society organizations. While for a period of time, the Ministry of Religious Affairs stayed away from political movements in the country, during this period, they plunged into the ugly swamp of domestic politics. And they were ready to organize social and spiritual plots against all those who were not agreeing with the regime. So much so that they have been organizing panels to organize conferences in order to defame the enemies of the political regime, using the foundation’s financial resources. However, all their activities are based on information about lies and slander, which is obvious even when viewed with the evilest eye.
Those who follow events in Turkey will know that it is natural for The Ministry of Religious Affairs to be in line with Erdogan’s slanders against the Hizmet Movement. However, it is not reasonable or understandable for Erdogan to publicly describe the Hizmet Movement as a perverted community in front of the cameras and criticize Mr. Gulen as a scholar.
It is strange that they are not even ashamed of themselves, trying to deceive people in this way. Because until recently, they were praising the work of Mr. Gulen and the Hizmet Movement and trying to participate in all their activities.
God made me witness these two periods. Yeni Umit and Hira magazines gave me the opportunity to participate in the programs organized in many provinces in Turkey, such as Istanbul, Gaziantep and Izmir. I prepared many reports about these conferences. The most striking aspect of these programs was the participation of clerics from all countries of the world. At the forefront of these participants there was also the Turkish Ministry of Religious Affairs, and other prominent personalities and political leaders on behalf of Turkey. They gave the opening speeches and praised the participating guests with the activities of the Hizmet Movement that have been going on for forty years. They were especially talking about the scientific personality of Mr. Gulen and his contribution to the civil society.
Mr. Gulen, Through the Eyes of The Arab Intellectuals 
In one of my articles I analyzed Mr. Gulen’s discourses during the past crisis and noted that Mr. Gulen not only didn’t have a secret personality, but he was also one of the most prominent Turkish figures of the world. Therefore, his life, his background, his view and his talks with different segments of the public, his sermons, lectures, interviews, his works, and his published articles are open to public. Everyone, especially those who love and sympathizers, tries to follow him. These works are printed in Cairo after the approval of the Islamic Research Association, which is affiliated with Al-Azhar University. The Islamic Studies Association has written reports that the works of Mr. Gulen are not in any way contrary to the idea of the way of the prophet and the Sunni Islam. Most of these works are being cultivated by Arab intellectuals, and many conferences, panels and meetings related to these works have taken place. One of the most important of these meetings was the conference titled “The Future of Reform in the Islamic World and Fethullah Gulen” within the Arab League in 2009. Many important figures from Egypt and from different geographies and opinion leaders attended this conference. At this conference, the opinions about Mr. Gulen’s ideas and personality are as follows.

The answer to the questions “Who are we and who are the others? How should a dialogue be established with others?” should be sought. Those who are investigating the Gulen Movement can find the keys to unbind these issues. (Ahmed Tayyib – Al-Azhar Sheikh)
Fethullah Gulen’s devotion to Islam, the Turkish history, culture and traditions of its people, by my opinion, all represent his experience with social and religious adherence to universal values prevailing in the Islamic geography. The fact that Mr. Gülen grasped the appropriate ones from the western intellectual within the framework of the size of the Islamic culture and belief constraints has contributed greatly to this culture. One of the most important reflections of his understanding is that he handles Islamic culture by spreading Islamic culture through formal education by combining religious education and positive education. This movement is a movement that needs to be taken and applied in our geography and benefiting from the field of education. We need respond to this call (Undersecretary – Tariq Al-Bishri – Egypt).

Moreover, scholars and enthusiasts from different parts of the world talked about the personality, works and Hizmet Movement of Mr. Gulen with praise. One of them is Muhammad Imara, an Islamic thinker and writer. He says: Because of the fact that the mind is a light put in the heart of our Islamic civilization, and the dignity of Mr. Gulen is a fruit of our civilization, he has gathered wisdom and mind and prudence and heart together. Because the Quran determines his method in his life and idea. His life is a clean word, his original is fixed, and his branches are like a tree that has spread all over it and bears fruit at all times with the permission of Allah. Since the revelation of the Qur’an has always been with faith and deeds, this pious scholar, along with his friends, has embraced the words as great works and fertile lives and opened them like flowers all over the world we live in.
In the eyes of others, the life of Mr. Gulen shows us that he has never changed his principles from the first day to this day and that he has gone on a single road. He is an inviter who calls to Islam, just as before. He is a mujaddid (renewer or regenerator) about the application of Islamic discourse in the modern age and has never crossed lines. Despite of Turkey’s fluctuating period with philosophical and intellectual currents, Mr. Gulen has always been stable on his path. Also, Mr. Gulen has studied the different intellectual and philosophical trends (right-wing, leftist, religious, liberal, communist, nationalist) in his country and abroad, and he has become a very knowledgeable person of all the problems of faith and existence faced by humanity. It is understood from his conferences and the books he wrote at the end of the sixties that Mr. Gulen had deep understanding about these issues and he was successfully discussing about them. One of these is the books of “The Doubts of the Century” and the other is the “Theory of Evolution and the Fact of Creation.” In these works, we see that the theories that have been occupying the world for a long time have been broke down as incorrect using science, religion and logic. For many years, humanity had used these theories for political and philosophical purposes. Another work written by Mr. Gulen in this field is “Metaphysical Dimension of Being” and “Human in Depression”.
Why Mr. Gulen’s Books Are Banned in Turkey?
As mentioned earlier, many scholars, researchers and thinkers read the books of Mr. Gulen, attended conferences and panels, and then shared their views and impressions about the Hizmet Movement. Articles related to the Hizmet Movement can be found on this website: www.nesemat.com.
For this reason, the first job of the Turkish government and the affiliated Ministry of Religious Affairs was to ban the printing of Mr. Gulen’s books and to prevent access to the media affiliated to the Hizmet Movement. But all religious books and publications in Turkey have different content. The main issue here is the concern of the revelation of unfounded lies and accusations raised by the regime and the Religious Affairs.
Mr. Gulen is a Hanafi Sunni Muslim
As the sources of knowledge and ingenuity he looked at great scholars who lived in Turkey and has the scientific resources owned by sheikhs and opinion leaders. Many researchers have written about the ingenuity and knowledge sources of Mr. Gulen. Sulayman Ashrati, the Algerian mufti, summarized them in three basic sources. Firstly; The Qur’an, the sunnah, and Sufism. The second is modern world culture and ingenuity. The third one is historical knowledge and historical adventure of civilizations.
Likewise, many authors in the Islamic and Arab world wrote articles related to Mr. Gulen and his movement. One of the most prominent Moroccan scholars, Farid Al Ansari, in his novel “The Return of the Cavalry”, wrote about Mr. Gulen’s life. Likewise, Egyptian thinker Abdulhalim Uveys, Iraqi literary writer Edip Eddebbag, and Suleyman Ashrati, and many other scholars have written about Mr. Gulen’s life. The Gulen Movement is shown as an example for the development of the community and society through communique and invitation.
Beyond these works, in some universities, especially Al Azhar, many master’s and doctoral theses on the subject of Hizmet and Mr. Gulen have been published. The most recent of these is the master’s thesis titled “Fethullah Gulen’s Communiqué Experience and Community Development” addressed by researcher Muhammed Yasin at Al Azhar University. During the defense of the thesis, the jury members praised this movement by emphasizing that the Hizmet Movement, which Mr. Gulen has established, is in line with the prophet’s way and the Sunni Islam.
In addition, a doctoral dissertation on “The Efforts of Mr. Gülen in the Communiqué” was also recorded at Al Azhar University. Prior to these, many other theses about “Hizmet Movement and Mr. Gülen” were published as masters and doctoral theses in Morocco, Algeria, Yemen, Jordan, Sudan, Lebanon and other Arab countries.
Al Azhar Scholars’ Views on “The Infinite Light”
Al Azhar scholars are very interested in the works of Mr. Gulen. The Infinite Light, which describes the blessed life of our Prophet (pbuh), is one of the popular books among these scholars. Dr. Fathi Hijazi, an Al-Azhar is a scholar, taught this book in his own courses and these classes were published on Al-Azhar’s YouTube channel. In addition, Egyptian scholar Dr. Ali Juma who participated in many programs organized by Hira and Yeni Ümit magazines, responded to the unpretentious accusations of The Turkish Ministry of Religious Affairs, made praises about Mr. Gulen and the Hizmet Movement and recommended Gulen’s works to his friends.
The troubles and difficulties that only the people of higher spiritual degree will endure are the fate of the people struggling to spread the light of religion. They feel the pain and sorrow of their people more than themselves. They are more aware of the dangers surrounding them. They search for solutions to eliminate problems of the society.
They love helping others live on the right path than they love their own lives. In this way, they do not mind those haters and cruel tyrants who slander for their grudge and accuse them of infidelity and mischief. The determination of Abu Hamid El Ghazali regarding this issue was as follows: “Don’t esteem highly those who are not envied and who are not slandered.” Which inviter is a more beautiful and intelligent inviter than our Prophet. Which word is more faithful than the word of Allah. As the poet says: “Salvation of all enemy is hoped, other than the grudge of the enemy…”
Source: TR724.com, July 29, 2017; translated on April 13, 2020.
The post Al-Azhar has examined and approved all the works of Mr. Gulen appeared first on Gulen Movement.
Source: Gulenmovement

Romanian appeals court denies Turkey’s request for extradition of Erdoğan critic

The Bucharest Court of Appeal has denied the extradition of educator Fatih Gürsoy on dubious terrorism charges brought by the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and underlined the fact that the Lumina Educational Institutions “operates according to the Romanian law.”

Gürsoy, 50, is the general manager of Lumina schools in Romania. Lumina celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2019, and its students have been offered places at prestigious universities such as Harvard, Princeton and MIT.

According to the court documents, copies of which were obtained by Nordic Monitor, the Bucharest Court of Appeal came to the conclusion that none of the charges leveled against Gürsoy were credible and that the purported evidence against him was not convincing. The documents also exposed that the representative of the Romanian Public Ministry had sought dismissal of the request for extradition during a hearing on December 24, 2019.

According to the documents, the request for the extradition of Gürsoy was based on an arrest warrant issued in absentia on January 12, 2018 by the Ankara 7th Criminal Court of Peace for “committing the crime of setting up or running an armed criminal terrorist group provided by article 314/1 of the Turkish Penal Code.” The Turkish court accused Gürsoy of setting up or running a supposedly terrorist organization — the Gülen movement — by using the ByLock application under a specific username. However, the Bucharest Court of Appeal ruled, in line with Article 24 of Romanian Law no. 302/2004, which regulates international judicial cooperation in criminal matters, that the offense of using the ByLock application as decided by the Turkish court is not defined as a crime by the relevant Romanian law.

The Gülen movement a civic group known for its investment in science education and the promotion of interfaith and intercultural dialogue around the world. The movement is led by Turkish Muslim scholar Fethullah Gülen, a US resident and an outspoken critic of the Turkish president for pervasive corruption in the government and Erdogan’s support for armed jihadist groups in Syria. Erdogan accuses the movement of being behind corruption investigations in 2013 and a coup attempt in July 2016, allegations the movement denies.
The post Romanian appeals court denies Turkey’s request for extradition of Erdoğan critic appeared first on Hizmet News.
Source: Hizmetnews

Cancer patient arrested over Gülen links deteriorates to stage 4 in one month

Fatma Aşkın, a breast cancer patient who was arrested on Feb.14 in the southeastern Turkish province of Gaziantep due to her alleged links to the Gülen movement, has experienced a spread of the disease during her one-month stay in prison and has been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, according to a report on the Bold Medya news website.

Aşkın, 52, who had a mastectomy due to cancer in 2017, was arrested as part of operations targeting the Gülen movement, which is accused by the Turkish government of masterminding a failed coup in July 2016. The movement strongly denies any involvement in the failed coup.

Aşkın used to help students in need, and photos showing her providing iftar [fast-breaking] dinners at her home for students were included in her dossier as evidence of her membership in the Gülen movement, which has been called a terrorist organization by the Turkish government.

When Aşkın was first arrested, she had no complaints related to cancer, and the disease was under control; however, she was recently hospitalized due to stomach pain. Tests showed that the cancer had spread to her liver and bones since her arrest and that she is now a stage 4 cancer patient.

A relative of the woman who spoke to Bold Medya said Aşkın’s condition was not so poor before her arrest.

“She should immediately be released pending trial so that she can have proper and sustainable treatment. I am really concerned about her health,” said the relative, adding that Aşkın was very much saddened by the removal of her two children from state jobs due to alleged Gülen links.

Following the coup attempt, the Turkish government launched a massive crackdown on followers of the movement under the pretext of an anti-coup fight as a result of which more than 130,000 people were removed from state jobs while in excess of 30,000 others including elderly people, pregnant women or those who have just given birth and ailing people are still in jail, and some 600,000 people have been investigated on allegations of terrorism.
The post Cancer patient arrested over Gülen links deteriorates to stage 4 in one month appeared first on Hizmet News.
Source: Hizmetnews

Turkey Should Protect All Prisoners from Pandemic

Emma Sinclair-Webb, Human Rights Watch Turkey Director

The risk the coronavirus pandemic poses to staff and inmates in Turkey’s vastly overcrowded prisons has prompted the government to accelerate a plan to substitute prison time with alternatives such as early parole and house arrest. While a welcome step, it is important that prisoners who are not serving time for acts of violence but instead are jailed for little more than their political views can benefit. There should be no discrimination on the basis of political opinion.

The draft law before Parliament this week reportedly could help up to 100,000 prisoners out of a prison population in Turkey close to 300,000, but will exclude thousands of inmates on trial or sentenced for terrorism offenses or crimes against the state.

Terrorism may sound like the gravest of offenses, but in Turkey, the government misuses the charge for political ends. Many inmates are placed in lengthy pretrial detention or sentenced without evidence that they committed violent acts, incited violence, or provided logistical help to outlawed armed groups. Among them are journalists like Ahmet Altan, politicians like Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdağ, human rights defenders like Osman Kavala, and thousands of dismissed civil servants, teachers, and others punished for association with the Fethullah Gülen movement.

Human Rights Watch has worked for years on the misuse of terrorism laws in Turkey, including how courts defined exercising the right to assembly as a terrorism offense, and how media, politicians, and lawyers have all been targeted.

The government’s early parole draft law suggests prisoners who have served at least half their sentence could be released early and includes various provisions such as enabling pregnant women and prisoners over 60 with health conditions to be released to house arrest or on parole.

All efforts to reduce the prison population at this time are welcome, but such measures cannot become a tool for targeting political prisoners. Parliament should reject any discriminatory exemption of terrorism prisoners and sick prisoners who have applied for postponement of sentences. It should make sure that decisions on early release of all prisoners are non-discriminatory – taking into consideration the imperative of protecting their health, particularly where there are risks due to age or underlying medical conditions – and objective, based on the risk prisoners may pose to others if released early.
The post Turkey Should Protect All Prisoners from Pandemic appeared first on Hizmet News.
Source: Hizmetnews