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How many holders can stake a claim? Trouble asking


Fethullah Gulen

Fethullah Gulen

The way and manner Nigerian newspapers and Nigerian journalist caught on to the goings on in Turkey raise questions of similarity and familiarity. We know of Anatolia and Istanbul and Ankara just as we have ancient Benin and far into the past Kano. In the modern day we know of Turkey being both East and West. We struggle to be both plus being our incriminating African self. But above all, Turkey has far too many stakeholders, just as we have. So, both countries, Turkey and Nigeria, have too many stakeholders. And herein lies the arresting of none-military people after a failed military coup d’etat in Turkey and the popular feeling that there cannot be a coup d’etat in Nigeria, military or civilian. But the stake is far more clearly defined and nuanced in Turkey than in Nigeria. In Turkey the stakeholders know the extent of the stake. Not in Nigeria.

Since the 19th century when the Arab-Islamic world encountered Europeans colonising there has been a determined effort by Arab intellectuals and Islamic scholars to square Islam into a Western European hole. Pakistan and Turkey are studies in this virtually impossible task. Pakistan would remain Islamic but modernise and prosper by practising interest-free capitalism while Turkey would become part and parcel of Europe by being a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation NATO and seeking to join the European Union. As at now the interim report would say that Pakistan is massively confused and Turkey heading for confusion. So, let’s hop over to Istanbul and Ankara.

After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire at the end of the first world war Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (1881-1938) led Turkey in a war of independence and became president of Turkey in 1923 a position he held until his death in 1938. He was granted the name Ataturk – father of the Turks in 1924 by act of Parliament, a name, which cannot be borne by any other Turk. He was determined to make Turkey modern and secular. He introduced political, economic and cultural policies to achieve these objectives. Principle among these policies were free and compulsory primary education and equality for women. He reforms that he carried out and on which modern Turkey is established are known as Kemalism. Perhaps because of a general feeling that Turkey is being used by the West within NATO and Germany’s refusal to allow Turkey into the European Union has pushed some leaders to wish to go back to political Islam. Which brings the narrative to Muhammad Fethullah Gulen.


This Islamic cleric is anti-communist and a liberal capitalism. In fact, he heads through his organisation Hizmet thousands of secondary schools, universities business conglomerates, financial and media corporations all managed from his hide out in Pennsylvania, United States of America. He is credited with the following policy statement:

“We invite our friends who hold high positions in the legislative branch of government and state institutions to master the skills of administration so they could, when the time comes, reform the Turkish state and make it more fruitful at all its levels in the name of Islam. We have to be patient and wait for the right moment and opportunity. We must not do it too soon.”

Fethullah Gulen supports mass literacy permeated by the moral values of Islam and science, especially mathematics, chemistry and physics enabling him to form new Turkish elite capable of eradicating Kemalist secularism from Turkish society and state institutions, with the aim of replacing it with Islamic values. As can be expected, Kemalist are fighting to roll back political Islam in Turkey.


President Erdogan of Turkey did not hesitate to disclose who is behind the coup attempt: Gulen. But Gulen and his organisation has been at some time past an ally of President Erdogan. In fact, it is claimed that Hizmet helped the president to power. Now President Erdogan accuses Gulen’s organisation of being a parallel state within the Turkish state. This is the reason why more civilians have been detained more than military personnel. President Erdogan can be found in the middle of Kemalism and Political Islamism, using from time to time what is appropriate for the time. At the same time wanting to be part and parcel of Europe.

How many stakeholders want a piece of Turkey?
The United States of America want domicile in the Black Sea, possible only by the grace of Turkey. Russia wants a new relationship with Turkey if only to send a gas pipe or two through Turkey to sell in Europe and prevent the Americans access to the Black Sea. Within Turkey, the Kemalist determined Turks in support of secularism. There are the members of Erdogan’s ruling party the Justice and Development party. There is the Council of Peace in the Homeland determined “to stop the increasingly authoritarian president from undermining Turkish democracy.” There is Saudi Arabia and its interest in Turkey. Sunni Islam must be defended. What about Iran, sworn enemy of America and ally of Russia in the Middle East? Iran is not indifferent to what happens in Turkey.


The failed coup is not the first and many commentators believe it will not be the lady against President Erdogan. Members of the armed forces have confessed to being involved in the putting together the failed coup. But more civilians have been arrested than military members. Two thousand seven hundred and forty-five judges and prosecutors have been arrested. This shows how deeply Gulen’s followers have penetrated the institutions of the Turkish state creating what President Erdogan calls a parallel state.

Like every state on earth the number of holders should not exceed the number of stakes available. The state is a recognised instrument for providing the goods and services for the realisation of the political, economic and cultural desires and aspirations of the eighty million Turks or one hundred and sixty million Nigerians who call Turkey and Nigeria home. If there are more stakeholders than there are stakes in the nation we make life and decent living impossible for ourselves. Let us, therefore, seek to unify our list of stakes. This action, whether you call it truth and reconciliation commission or you call it restructuring the nation, ensures that the stakes we hold as stakeholders will matter into the future of ourselves and our children and their children world without end.

This piece was used two weeks ago. Repeated by popular demand.

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