The column by Doug Bandow in the July 29 issue (“Turkey crisis illustrates why U.S. should stop meddling)” touched on reasons why the leader of an Islamic community, Fethullah Gulen, has continued to live in Pennsylvania since the late 1990s.

Although Gulen and his followers deny the charges, there is strong evidence that the Gulenist network (FETO) was behind the coup attempt in Turkey on July 15.

Over the last four decades the Gulen community has developed a worldwide network at the epicenter of that one man. Before the eyes of his adherents he is not only an eloquent, learned cleric but also a Mahdi who will save the Muslim world. The community is tightly bound by a very strict hierarchical order: Orders are given from the top to the second- and third-level imams and ultimately to the grass roots. Community members are compartmentalized in cell structures and they carry out their activities under the leadership of their imams. As much as possible they try to keep their affiliation to the community secret.

In the forefront, their activities seem peaceful, innocent and philanthropic. They open international schools worldwide, organize charities for social services to the poor and maintain “dialogue centers” which preach inter-cultural, inter-religion harmony, tolerance and peace.

However, the movement also has backstage activities, particularly in Turkey. For decades they have been infiltrating Turkey’s state institutions, especially the critical ones like the police, judiciary and the military. Hiding their identities and taking orders from their imams, rather than their institutional superiors, the Gulenists aim to gradually capture state power.

Their final purpose is to replace the democratic, secular regime in Turkey with a Sunni Shariah state and thereafter to reach out to the other corners of the Muslim world.

The foiled coup is the latest criminal act revealing the danger posed by the Fethullah terrorist organization, not only to Turkey but also to the already volatile Middle East region. Following the coup attempt, Turkey is rooting out the Gulenist network from state institutions. The Turkish government also calls on all our friends, including Japan, where FETO has been active with various establishments including schools, companies and charity institutions, to take all possible measures to prevent the activities of this organization on their soil.

Relations between Japan and Turkey are based on a solid foundation of friendship. I am sure that Japan will not spare its solidarity at this time when Turkey needs it most.

Ahmet Bulent Meric

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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