Designation Allows Turkish Government to Treat All Critics as ‘Terrorists’
For Immediate Release
(NEW YORK – June 3, 2016) – The push by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the Prime Minister’s cabinet to designate the Hizmet movement — also known as the “Gülen movement” — as a terrorist organization only serves to further Erdoğan’s crackdown on dissent, civil society and the media. Erdogan’s announcement represents the latest in the string of his paranoid, authoritarian actions that ultimately harm Turkish citizens and undermine the international efforts against violent extremists.
“President Erdoğan’s witch hunt against Fethullah Gülen sends an alarming message and sets a dangerous precedent,” said Alp Aslandogan, Executive Director of the Alliance for Shared Values, an American nonprofit dedicated to promoting interfaith dialogue, religious tolerance and education. “It illustrates that should any group – including journalists, opposition parties, Kurdish citizens and other political and religious minorities in Turkey – refuse to bow to President Erdoğan’s wishes, the president will strong-arm his government into treating them as enemies of the state.
“Hizmet, the movement inspired by Mr. Gülen, seeks to counter extremism and terrorism by promoting peace, education, humanitarian aid and interfaith dialogue,” he said. “The efforts of Hizmet participants have been welcomed and praised by local authorities in over 150 countries around the world.”
Erdoğan’s actions to control the Turkish government and judiciary and silence civil society have included shuttering dozens of media outlets and filing court cases against nearly 2,000 Turkish citizens for “insulting the president,” including former Miss Turkey Merve Buyuksarac. Instead of concentrating the governments’ resources on the international fight against real terrorist groups such as ISIS, Erdogan is focusing on consolidating all power in his office, a pattern at odds with the Turkish constitution.
Recent reports by human rights watchdogs and the U.S. State Department have criticized the Erdogan government’s abuse of powers to silence all democratic dissent. According to the New York Times, with the resignation of Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, “Mr. Erdoğan’s transformation from democrat to autocrat is nearly complete, his ambition of establishing an executive presidency closer at hand.”
About Alliance for Shared Values
The Alliance for Shared Values (AFSV) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that serves as a voice for dialogue organizations affiliated with Hizmet, a civil society movement inspired by prominent preacher and peace advocate Fethullah Gülen. Based in New York, the Alliance strives to promote peace and to eliminate prejudice and discrimination against any or all ethnic, cultural and religious communities. To learn more about the Alliance or Mr. Gülen, please visit www.afsv.org.
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