August 30, 2016

In the unadulterated barbarism called the Islamic State, you are allowed to shop for cucumbers and tomatoes, but you are not permitted to place them in the same bag.

That’s because the noun cucumber is masculine in Arabic, and the noun tomato is feminine.

Thus, the “morality police” of vegetables in the town of Raqqa, Syria, have decreed that cucumbers and tomatoes cannot be in the same sack or basket!

Chaperones are useless. The raunchy vegetables cannot be trusted. Sex between the greens and the reds will not be tolerated, period!

With puritanical antics of Muslims dominating the news these days—just remember the latest burkini controversy in France—I have been reading up on Fethullah Gulen, supposedly their antithesis, of Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania.

One Turkish journalist, Atilla Ilhan, writes of him, “Just as the rise of lower middle class gave birth to the Protestant movement in the Catholic Europe, Gulen and his followers have done the same in the Islamic Middle East.”

But this maverick cleric is also accused of plotting a coup against an established government in Ankara, Turkey.

He, of course, categorically denies the charge telling a roomful of journalists: “Those who know me can verify to this: I have cried for half an hour upon the death of a bee.

“I have rejoiced for a whole day after restoring a lost ant to its natural habitat.

“And I have felt as if I have freed a slave when I have emancipated an entrapped butterfly.”

If that were all I knew of Mr. Gulen, I would have definitely urged People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to adopt him as its poster child.

Who knows a picture of Gulen crying over a dead bee might have even replaced the cuddly bunny on the logo of the organization that has dedicated itself to eradication of cruelty against the helpless creatures of our world!

Given the madness that is emanating from the Middle East, it is heartwarming to hear Mr. Gulen reminisce about shedding tears for bees, ants and butterflies.

Honestly, I don’t know of anybody else who does, do you?

He added to those touching admissions his view that the Turkish government is on a mission to discredit him and that he is a total stranger to the science of destruction.

History may be on his side. It’s not the first time that he’s been falsely accused of stirring up trouble inside Turkey.

When Turkish police implicated four cabinet members for massive fraud and almost arrested Bilal Erdogan, the president’s son, the investigations were suddenly halted.

A visibly angry Erdogan took to the airways and accused Mr. Gulen for undermining his authority and running a parallel state.

The accused were freed and the charges were dismissed.

Mr. Gulen issued his own statement, a fire and brimstone sermon, that became a mini YouTube sensation:

“If you don’t see the thief and decide to harass his catcher, if you don’t see the guilty and go after the innocent… May God burn your homes, demolish your nest, destroy your unity, disappoint your desires, block your progress, and deny you a say in the society!”

That was three years ago and the gulf between these two influential men of Turkey has only widened.

To the list of burgeoning offenses by Mr. Gulen, President Erdogan has now added the charge of treason and has asked Washington to hand him the cleric.

The Turkish president wants to be as lucky as Bulent Ecevit, a Turkish prime minister, who was handed Abdullah Ocalan, the Kurdish rebel leader, when Turks bribed Kenyan police with $5 million.

But America is not Kenya. Its presidents are not above the law. And even if Mr. Gulen is guilty of the charges that are leveled against him, he has a right to something called a fair trial.

Besides, Mr. Gulen has many defenders in the world.

Cetin Altan, a deceased Turkish journalist of Edward R. Morrow’s fame, once observed (was it tongue in cheeck?), “If all Muslims were like him, there would be no Christians left in this world.”

Can Kazanoglu, a reporter for a liberal Turkish daily, Cumhuriyet, went further, “Fethullah Gulen and his followers are open to the science of the West, even though they hail from the East.

“Mr. Gulen is conservative politically, but many find him surprisingly open-minded.

“He supports free enterprise, defends secularism as well as pop-music with the attitude of a carefree Islamic mystic.

“He is emotional to be sure, but also a nationalist, a warrior, and a pacifist.”

Graham Fuller, a well-known name in the foreign policy establishment of America, the one-time CIA agent in Turkey, has praised what Mr. Gulen with these words:

“The movement rejects extremism and violence of any kind, stating that they are incompatible with the true message of Islam, and emphasizes the development of tolerance among religious communities.”

Rusen Cakir, a Turkish journalist who has followed Mr. Gulen and his followers for decades, notes:

“The lobbying efforts of Mr. Gulen and his followers are superior to that of the Turkish government.”

Six sitting United States senators—one a candidate for Vice-President on the Democratic ticket—have said:

“We believe [America] should support the movement of reputable Turkish Muslim scholar Fethullah Gulen who stands for interfaith and intercultural dialogue.”

Is he really as good as these public servants and supposedly impartial journalists say he is?

And is it not odd that he is praised as a “warrior” and a “pacifist” in the same sentence?

He does stand for interfaith and intercultural dialogue abroad, but at home, in Turkey, he has proven himself to be its most implacable foe!

Notwithstanding his “love” of small animals, Mr. Gulen has none for larger ones—especially if they are humans and speak a language called Kurdish and occupy a track of land called Kurdistan.

He is on record for saying he does not even want to go to heaven—if that means emancipation of Kurds from the domination of Turks and the liberation of Kurdistan from the oppression of Turkey.

Only four years ago, he had murder in his heart and urged his “buddy” Erdogan to kill up to 50,000 recalcitrant Kurds. Invoking God’s name, he added, “May the almighty rain fire on their homes and destroy them root and branch!”

His stand on the interfaith dialog is worth noting as well.

Of all historical figures, he speaks highly of Sultan Yavuz Selim. Among this Turkish despot’s claims to fame is his slaughter of 40,000 Alevi Turks and Kurds.

Machiavelli, writing in Florence, Italy, praised him for the deed. Recep Tayyip Erdogan likes him as well and just named the biggest highway bridge over the Bosporus Straits after him.

Like an iceberg, there is far more to Mr. Gulen than meets the eye. The unseen parts of one iceberg sank the Titanic. Let’s hope and pray the Gulen iceberg will do less harm.

Writing in the Conversation, a website of academics, a Gulen scholar wondered aloud:

“If Gulen helped orchestrate the coup, tens of thousands of affiliates and sympathizers, as well as those of us who have tried to more objectively study this man and his movement, will need to come to terms with one of the most fantastic frauds in modern history.”

Well, he is a fraud.

Dostoyevsky once noted, “The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.”

By that, he meant seeing who has been imprisoned.

Turkish prisons are especially telling, where 420 Kurds and Turks were tortured to death or died of hunger strikes between 1980 and 1994.

As best as I can tell, this friend of bees, ants and butterflies hasn’t even uttered a prayer for their souls.

The Islamic world needs a Martin Luther to reform it, but Futhullah Gulen is definitely not that German monk.

The German married a nun; Mr Gulen will not even shake the hand of the kinder sex!

Kani Xulam—on Twitter @AKINinfo

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