Turkish people are celebrating tomorrow the first ‘’Democracy and National Unity Day’’ and commemorating 250 democracy martyrs who lost their lives on the night of 15 July 2016 in thwarting the most heinous coup attempt in the history of modern Turkey.
The perpetrators of this hideous undertaking were the followers of Fetullah Gülen, the man who calls himself “Imam of the Universe” residing in Pennsylvania on a self-imposed exile since 1999. Based on an absolute and blind submission to the wishes and orders of Fetullah Gülen, whom his followers believe to be divinely sanctioned, the group known in Turkey as FETO (Fetullah Terrorist Organization) planned and staged the July 15 coup attempt with its undercover operatives deployed within the Turkish military, police and the judiciary.
For outsiders, it is difficult to understand how a seemingly benign civic education movement could become a state within the state, run a shadow government and manipulate laws and regulations to their benefit. It would be a huge mischaracterization to think of Gülen merely as a peaceful Islamic scholar and preacher. His disciples in the armed forces waged a campaign of terror on the night of July 15. It is neither an innocent pro-peace nor a naive pro-dialogue movement, but a cult bent on amassing a huge economic power and political influence at all costs. Gulen runs a global enterprise, with global aspirations of power and dominance operating in more than 150 countries through schools, NGOs, lobbyists, media outlets and companies.
While people in Turkey struggling to overcome the trauma of this existential threat, the outside world largely missed out the severity of the July 15 coup attempt and its significance to the Turkish people.
The brutality and treachery that the Gülenist putschists displayed that night were beyond any description. It was the worst act of terror in the history of Turkey as the Gülenist putschists used military tanks, fighter jets and attack helicopters against innocent civilians who took to the streets to defend their long lived secular republic and its democratic institutions. They killed civilians, attempted to assassinate the President and the Prime Minister, bombed the Turkish Parliament, the Presidential Compound, the National Intelligence Headquarters, and Special Forces Headquarters and tried to take control of strategic assets and stormed free media outlets. On that night they took the lives of 250 innocent Turkish men and women and wounded more than 2.000 people from all walks of life.
July 15 was a trial of strength and perseverance for the Turkish democracy and the State. All the political parties, both in government and in opposition, the uninfected elements of the Armed Forces, the Police Force and the media stood up against the putschists. Above all, it was the people of Turkey from all backgrounds and political views who resisted and displayed a historic example of solidarity as they stood selflessly in front of the tanks and reclaimed their democratic rights.
The bloody July 15 coup attempt united once again the people of Turkey. Contrary to the expectations of some, it did not lead to a political and/or economic crisis. Rather, it created a new sense of national unity and political consensus in the fight against FETÖ. This new spirit is critical for Turkey's democracy as it deals with the process of getting rid of Gülenist infiltration from all state institutions.
‘’Gezici Research’’, a respected polling outlet, last week shared the results of its recent poll which indicates that 97.7 % of the Turkish people views FETO as a terrorist organization and % 94.2 held FETO accountable for the 15 July coup attempt. Fethullah Gülen and his disciples have already been indicted in people's minds and conscience.
Seeing his total demise and destruction in Turkey, Gülen is now trying to use all of his resources and firepower to organize his group outside Turkey and seeks to strike again with his usual tactics of spending money, running smear campaigns and basically allying himself with anyone against Turkey and its leadership. The publicity he has got in the Western media should be seen in this context. His self-positioning as a moderate alternative to religious radicalism has no credibility in Turkey or the rest of the Muslim world.
One can argue that any coup attempt would have destabilized any country, ruins its economy and divides the society. Yet today Turkey is more resilient and stronger. Only six weeks after the July 15 coup attempt, Turkey launched a major offensive against DAESH terrorists in Syria, continued its mega infrastructure and development projects, economic reforms and modified its constitution first time ever by a popular vote. The state of emergency declared to root out Gulenists and other terrorist organizations from state institutions has not damaged the economy nor hampered the daily course of life. From politics to economy, Turkey is stronger and more united than ever before.
Last but not least, I should reiterate our appreciation and gratitude to the Lebanese Government, many political leaders and Lebanese people for their support and solidarity to Turkey expressed in the immediate aftermath of the 15 July Coup attempt.
It is against this backdrop that the Turkish people are celebrating tomorrow the first “Democracy and National Unity Day” as a demonstration of their dedication and commitment to democracy and will always keep the memory of their July 15 martyrs alive.
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