Journalists and Writers Foundation (GYV) head Mustafa Yeşil has said the use of the “parallel state” argument against the faith-based Hizmet movement led by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen is reminiscent of practices of the Feb. 28 coup period.
As a far-reaching corruption scandal has shaken the roots of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government, with three ministers resigning from their post over allegations of bribery and tender rigging, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has struck a defiant tone, deeming the graft probe an international plot to weaken his ruling party and Turkey.
With the probe widening, some journalists affiliated with the ruling AK Party -- along with the prime minister and government officials -- have labeled the Hizmet movement an organization within the state, a "parallel state."
Yeşil strongly denied such allegations, pointing out that the mentality that tries to criminalize the movement is the same as that of the Feb. 28, 1997 coup period, when the secular establishment backed by the army crippled conservative social and political movements by sidelining religion in the social sphere.
He said the Hizmet movement was also subjected to extensive unfair treatment and trials based on false allegations of infiltration into state institutions.
"These people are citizens of this state. What are we talking about here when we say 'These people are trying to establish control over the state'? These people are citizens of this state, and nothing is more normal than for people to be able to seek a place within state institutions," Yeşil said, expressing his fury in the strongest terms regarding the “parallel state” argument.
Commenting on the recent corruption scandal that has prompted government officials to raise questions about whether there are parallel structures or gang formations within the Turkish state, President Abdullah Gül recently said that there is only one authority in the state and that it acts in line with the Constitution, laws and regulations.
“Individuals working in [public] institutions can freely have their own thoughts and ideologies. They can subscribe to different political trends. These are all legitimate, as long as they [ideology and beliefs] stay outside public and state work,” he explained.
The president's comments appeared to downplay the government's claim that the corruption investigation has been launched by gangs within the state that seek to oust the ruling AK Party from power.
Gül highlighted the fact that varied opinions are the standard in modern democratic states, adding that people are free to follow their own beliefs as long as it does not contradict public authority.