Rumi Forum's blog on Hizmet, Fethullah Gulen, peacebuilding, education and interfaith efforts.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

WASHINGTON TIMES Interview: M. Akyol on Fethullah Gulen

Luke Montgomery interviews Mustafa Akyol about his new book "Islam without extremes - A Muslim Case for Liberty" . It seems many Western media outlets seem stuck, like a broken record, on Fethullah Gulen's so-called involvement in journalists' arrest. Mustafa Akyol is a seasoned and experienced analyst and commentator on Turkish issues. More info on Mustafa Akyol can be found here

Luke Montgomery:
 Last year, Turkish journalist Ahmet Şık wrote a book entitled You Touch, You Burn (Dokunan Yanar) targeting the Gülen movement. Before the book was even published, he was arrested and thrown in jail. What happened to moderate and tolerant Islam in this case? 
Mustafa Akyol: First, I have opposed the arrest of Ahmet Şık and similar journalists from the very beginning. I’m so glad that they are free now after being imprisoned for a year. This incident shows that the Turkish legal system is still very authoritarian and illiberal when it comes to freedom of speech. 
But, I would not go as far as to say that this illiberal episode in the Turkish legal system is a product of Islam. I don’t think it has any direct connection with the Turkish understanding of Islam. It was not the Islamic law or any Islamic interpretation which led to the arrest of those journalists. It was Turkey's illiberal anti-terrorism laws which define a terrorist organization very vaguely. 
These journalists were accused of being in an organization with some radical generals who wanted to conduct a coup. Now, I think that accusation was overblown, but at the end of the day that was the reason they were arrested. Yes, they had criticized the Gülen movement, but I don't think that was the reason they were arrested.
There are other journalists, very secular journalists who have denounced Fethullah Gülen and his movement, defined him as a CIA agent or a secret Christian, all sorts of things, but they have never been imprisoned. (highlights by RF blog)