Strategic Defamation of Fethullah Gulen: English vs. Turkish

"With kind permission from Dr. Dogan Koc, I am sharing the article he wrote about the defamation on Fethullah Gulen in two languages; English and Turkish. Dr. Koc says that Fethullah Gulen is accused of being different things in different languages based on the audience of that language. When you read the articles, you will find out why the terms like Gulen Charter Schools, Gulen Muslim Schools or other labels are just nothing but pseudo-titles given by the same people who heat the same issues again and again. The original article can be found on this link.

Fethullah Gulen is a moderate Turkish Muslim scholar who is mostly known for his education and dialogue activities. Gulen Movement, named after him, has established hundreds of education and dialogue institutions throughout the world.  Several books, hundreds of articles and news reports have been written about Gulen himself and the Movement. 

Some of these books and articles defame Gulen and the movement. In these defamatory articles, Türker (2009) points out that there are different strategies used in different languages. According to Türker, there is a big contradiction between the English and Turkish versions of articles defaming Gülen. While, in Turkish-language accounts, Gulen is portrayed as a CIA/Zionist agent, a US puppet, a secret cardinal of the Pope and a Western Trojan horse in the Muslim world who is trying to either Christianize Muslims or making it easy for Western powers to exploit the Muslim world through his moderate Islamic teachings; on the other hand, in the English versions of the critiques, he is portrayed as anti-Semitic, anti-Western and trying to Islamize Christians, and as a second Khomeini who is trying to establish an Islamic caliphate in the world (Türker, 2009). 

This paper analyzes articles and books Gulen both Turkish and English that are critical of Fethullah, and illustrates that these defamations are not random, they appear according to audiences. In other words, as Türker (2009) points out:

“….they are addressing different audiences. It makes more sense to warn Turkish speakers of an American imperialist danger which is supported by Zionists. But, on the other hand, for English speakers, you will find more buyers if you use an Islamic danger argument.”

Hikmet Cetinkaya, ‘one of Fethullah Gulen's most relentless enemies,’ is a very good example of this strategic defamation. Hikmet Cetinkaya has written many articles and 10 books defaming Gulen in Turkish. Though he also claimed that Gulen is trying to establish an Islamic state in Turkey, his main argument in these articles and books is that Gulen an American puppet and he is controlled by America (see section Defamation of Gulen in Turkish and Appendix for more information). 

However, the same Hikmet Cetinkaya appears several times in a Dutch TV documentary (NOVA, 2008) and warns Dutch people. The main argument in the documentary is that the Gulen Movement is a dangerous radical Islamist movement which is trying to Islamize the West while using religiously-sanctioned dissimulation in its interaction with the Western world (Sharon-Krespin, 2009). 

In other words, while in his writings in Turkish, Hikmet Cetinkaya mainly portrays Gulen as an American puppet, when addressing a Western audience he shows Gulen as an Islamic danger to the West.