Çakmak said in an interview with the Akşam daily on Tuesday that Gülen is a phenomenon and a wise man who contributes to Turkey’s improvement. Strongly opposing Çakmak, CHP Secretary-General Süheyl Batum said on Thursday that he does not agree that Gülen is a wise man, adding that “some are trying to transform the CHP.”
The ultrasecularist Cumhuriyet daily reported yesterday that CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu had also warned Çakmak about his remarks and urged him to adopt a discourse that is in compliance with party rules.
Former CHP deputy and retired Ambassador İnal Batu thinks that it is a contradiction for the CHP to criticize a person who had been included in the PM. “These people were not included in the council by force. The party knew how they thought. … If you are a party of the nation, you should be tolerant and exhibit unity,” he said.
Another former CHP deputy, Savcı Sayan, also said a PM member should be able to openly voice his ideas, underlining that it is not appropriate to force PM members to speak only in accordance with what leaders say. “Are these people included in the party just for show or to address the party’s problems? If it is just for show, it is nothing other than hypocrisy,” he added.
Çakmak was castigated by Batum who was speaking on a panel organized by the Atatürkist Thought Association (ADD) in İzmir on Thursday on the anniversary of the death of Hasan Fehmi Kubilay, who was lynched in 1930 at the hands of a reactionary mob in İzmir’s Menemen district and later became a symbolic figure for secularists in Turkey. “Muhammed Çakmak is our new PM member. I would like to express my opinions gently because he is our friend. What I mean is that he is one with whom we will work with in the PM. I do not agree with his remarks individually. He probably does not agree with me either. Fethullah Gülen is not a phenomenon. I am saying that he is a part of a CIA project,” he said.
Batum also argued that the CHP is not a party that keeps a distance from religion “but knows well that religious sects, communities and the Gülen [movement] are not civil society organizations.” Some members of the audience also shouted “[the] presence of those like Çakmak in the CHP is a shame” during Batum’s speech.
The Gülen movement is a group of volunteers engaged in interfaith and intercultural dialogue inspired by the ideas of Gülen, a Turkish Islamic scholar well known for his teachings promoting mutual understanding and tolerance between cultures. Now residing in the US, Gülen has pioneered educational activities in a number of countries along with efforts to promote intercultural and interfaith activities around the world. However, the CHP has long been against the Gülen movement, arguing that Gülen and his followers aim to bring Shariah rule to Turkey, an accusation of which Gülen was acquitted in a court.
Çakmak, who is currently a lecturer at Fırat University, said in Tuesday’s interview that Gülen is a person who has been exerting great efforts to make education accessible to poor children. “He is doing good things. While people are spending their money on the splendors of the world, he is opening schools across Turkey and the world. We are following him with respect. The suggestions that the US is behind the movement’s gaining power is a product of old mentalities. They are comical,” he said.
ADD to kick off republican rallies ahead of elections
Speaking at the same panel as Batum, ADD Chairwoman Tansel Çölaşan said the association will kick off a new wave of massive protests against the government, dubbed the “Republican Rallies,” in the run up to June’s parliamentary elections. “Our silent period will end ahead of the elections,” she added.
During the first wave of rallies in 2007, retired military officers, university rectors and members of the judiciary called for a military coup against the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government. Millions joined the rallies organized by the ADD, a civil society organization that the Ergenekon investigation has shown to have suspicious links to the coup-plotting gang.
A huge banner reading “Military, take action,” a clear call for a coup, drew widespread criticism as inappropriate for a democratic event. Former chairman of the ADD, retired Gen. Şener Eruygur, is a prime suspect in the investigation into Ergenekon, a clandestine criminal network charged with plotting to overthrow the government.