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"It appears as if Sharon-Krespin was using Ebaugh and Koç (2007) as a source for her statement. It is unclear, however, just which part of her statement she attributes to our article. Regardless, her statement misquotes what we presented in the article."


"56.9% of the resources are newspaper articles 27.8% are TV programs, and 4.2% are internet based papers. Only 6.9% are conference or journal articles and 4.2% are references from books. In other words, almost 90% of the sources used by Sharon-Krespin are from sources with no academic or scientific control for credibility."


"Sharon-Krespin provides a picture of Turkey and Fethullah Gülen which is contradictory to the facts. However, more importantly, she uses biased, selective, miscalculated, misleading, and misrepresentative data in order to draw these false pictures."

Dogan Koç, Fethullah Gülen Forum

“Fethullah Gülen's Grand Ambition”: A Biased, Selective, Misleading, Misrepresentative and Miscalculated Article

Dogan Koc, January 29, 2010

Rachel Sharon-Krespin’s article titled “Fethullah Gülen's Grand Ambition: Turkey’s Islamist Danger” published in the Middle East Quarterly’s 2009 winter issue was brought to my attention by a colleague due to its citation of an article which I co-authored with Helen Rose Ebaugh. In her article Sharon-Krespin states:

He (Fethullah Gülen) is a financial heavyweight, controlling an unregulated and opaque budget estimated at $25 billion (p56).

She gives our article as the source of the above information, citing it in the footnotes as Helen Rose Ebaugh and Dogan Koç, “Funding Gülen-Inspired Good Works: Demonstrating and Generating Commitment to the Movement,” fgulen.com, Oct. 27, 2007.

It appears as if Sharon-Krespin was using Ebaugh and Koç (2007) as a source for her statement. It is unclear, however, just which part of her statement she attributes to our article. Regardless, her statement misquotes what we presented in the article.

In this paper, without suggesting any alternative argument to Sharon-Krespin (2009), first I correct the information which is referenced to Ebaugh and Koç (2007). I then analyze the sources used by Sharon-Krespin (2009) to show how biased, selective, misleading, mispresentative and miscalculated are the data that she presents. Finally, I address some of the contradictory information and arguments presented in the same article.

First of all, as the co-author of the cited article, it is my responsibility to respond to Sharon-Krespin and to inform readers that the information mentioned in the article with reference to the Ebaugh and Koç (2007) citation is incorrect and that the statements she makes based on the incorrect data, therefore, are also incorrect.

The article, "Funding Gülen-Inspired Good Works: Demonstrating and Generating Commitment to the Movement,” was originally a conference paper that Ebaugh and I presented at the London School of Economics during the Muslim World in Transition: Contributions of the Gülen Movement Conference in October, 2007. The article addresses mechanisms of financing for Fethullah Gülen-inspired projects, based on interviews with business leaders in Turkey who constitute much of the financial infrastructure of the movement. In addition, the paper presents data from one local Gülen movement (also known as Fethullah Gülen movement) organization in Houston, Texas, that collects thousands of dollars annually from local members, mostly students on small educational stipends (Ebaugh and Koç 2007). We framed the paper sociologically in terms of organizational theories of commitment. Beginning with Kanter (1972;1977) and including subsequent major figures in the organizational field (e.g. Reichers 1985; Meyer and Allen 1991; Hall 2002; Scott 2003), scholars have demonstrated a positive correlation between sacrifices asked of members or participants and degree of commitment to the goals of an organization. Using this perspective, the paper argues that the financial contributions made by participants in the Fethullah Gülen movement both demonstrate commitment to the ideals espoused by Fethullah Gülen and generate commitment to the movement.

Ebaugh and Koç (2007) article defines the Fethullah Gülen movement as a civil society movement that arose in the late 1960s in Turkey, initially composed of a loose network of individuals who were inspired by M. Fethullah Gülen. While Ebaugh and Koç (2007) article accepts Woodhall’s (2005) statement that the Gülen-inspired projects number in the thousands, span international borders and are costly in terms of human and financial capital, the article does not give an exact or even an estimated financial amount of contributions. Therefore, the $25 billion that Sharon-Krespin (2009) reports, citing our paper, has no basis in the paper itself or in the data that we collected. Where Sharon-Krespin obtains the $25 billion figure remains unknown or undeclared.

As a matter of fact, during the presentation of the paper at the London School of Economics, a member of the audience asked if we could give a total amount for the financial worth of the movement. We indicated[1] that we could not, and that it was not in the scope of our paper to do so. A later article (Koç 2008) describes the fact that Fethullah Gülen-inspired projects are always locally based and embedded in local circles of supporters so that a study of the financial resources of the Fethullah Gülen Movement as a whole would require traveling all over the world and studying all the GM projects to determine the financial amounts involved. Since such research has not occurred, it is impossible for Sharon-Krespin (2009) to state an exact quantity for the money contributed to Gülen-inspired projects.

In our paper, we cite Aslandogan and Cetin (2006) who state that, apart from encouraging people to donate money, Fethullah Gülen has remained distant from all financial involvements and instead has encouraged those who sponsor projects to oversee the use of their contributions. During our interviews, one of the businessmen stated:

Every school has its own independent accounting system and accountants who manage the budget and financial books. They are all accountable to the local and state authorities, as well as to the trust’s sponsors. The local sponsors are knowledgeable about the status of the ongoing projects at any given time, for they are personally responsible for many of them, either as construction contractors, accountants, serving on the board of directors, teachers, principals, etc. It is quite easy, therefore, for them to monitor how the donations are used, thereby achieving transparency in financial issues. Moreover, as one businessman explained, “First of all, I want you to know that people in the Fethullah Gülen movement have gained the trust of people in every strata of life. People who support the activities of this movement do not worry about whether the support reached its destination, they don’t chase it. However, if we want to look at it, all kinds of information is available in every activity, we can be sure by looking at them” (Ebaugh and Koç 2007, 544).

Finally, we underline the complexity and contradictory structure of the arguments regarding the source of money involved in the Fethullah Gülen Movement. While some suggest the possibility of collusion between the movement and various governments, especially Saudi Arabia, Iran and the Turkish government, others suggest that the United States’ CIA may be a financial partner behind the projects (Kalyoncu (2008) refers to these claims). Some have even suggested that Fethullah Gülen is a secret agent of the Papacy (M. S. Eygi 2000). None of the above contentions have been substantiated with any kind of objective data, and they appear mostly as newspaper articles. In our article (Ebaugh and Koç 2007), we conclude:

Based on the scant literature that exists on the funding of Gülen-inspired projects and our own interviews conducted with members of the Fethullah Gülen Movement both in Turkey and in Houston, Texas, it is evident that the money behind the movement is provided by millions of people the world over who are committed to the ideas and ideals promoted by Gülen (p. 550).

In 2008, I conducted an empirical analysis of the financial resources of some of the Gülen-inspired projects by inspecting the books in institutions and interviewing key personnel. I find that donations are not made in large amounts by a few but rather donations are made in small amounts by many people. (Koç 2008)

In light of the errors contained in the Sharon-Krespin article regarding our paper, one wonders if Sharon-Krespin actually read the article or simply used it as a reference since it carried the words “Funding” and “Gülen” in its title. If the Sharon-Krespin (2009) article had been published in a newspaper or on an internet blog, I would have simply addressed the misquotes of the Ebaugh and Koç (2007) reference. However, since the article was published in an academic journal, I feel compelled to address some other issues in the paper, especially with regard to its references and data.

Issues Regarding the References in Sharon-Krespin (2009)

I am not suggesting that only academic or scientific resources should be used in academic articles; however, there must be criteria which distinguish social science papers from newspaper or internet blog articles. In other words, while people can write anything they want in newspapers and internet blogs without any scientific or academic concerns, academic journal papers should be based on at least some scientific ground or analysis.

Since Sharon-Krespin (2009) did not conduct an empirical study or theoretical analysis, and her arguments (and paper itself) are based mainly on selected literature, it is essential to evaluate references. Sharon-Krespin used endnotes to indicate her resources. The following table shows the types of resources used as references in the article. (For more details see Sharon-Krespin (2009) endnote section.)


[1] This happened during the questions and answer section of the panel during our presentation.


table-1

Before looking at the credibility of some of the resources used by Sharon-Krespin (2009), I would like to point out that 56.9% of the resources are newspaper articles 27.8% are TV programs, and 4.2% are internet based papers. Only 6.9% are conference or journal articles and 4.2% are references from books. In other words, almost 90% (the combination of newspaper articles, TV programs, and internet blog articles) of the sources used by Sharon-Krespin (2009) are from sources with no academic or scientific control for credibility.

For instance, the main references that shape the structure and the tone of the Sharon-Krespin (2009) article are from non-credible, marginal sources. Sharon-Krespin refers to Yanardağ (interview) in 5 different places (6.9% of the total number of sources). Yanardağ was taken into custody by the Turkish police on October 27, 2008, due to his connection with the Ergenekon Terrorist Organization (ETO) (Taraf 2008). Yanardağ is accused because of his connections with a high-ranking ETO member, Tuncay Ozkan, who has also been arrested (çoban and Turk 2008) and who was the owner of a TV channel (Kanal Türk) on which Yanardağ gave this interview. Sharon-Krespin (2009) uses the interview of Adil Serdar Saçan who, interestingly, was also arrested due to his connection to the ETO, and not surprisingly his interview was also on the same TV channel (Kanal Türk). An interview with Nurettin Veren that is quoted several times was also on the same TV channel. Newspapers and internet blog news quoted are also from similar non-academic sources.

In summary, anyone can write an article and shape it according to his/her agenda by using selective sources. However, academic and scientific papers should be based on credible, academic and scientific sources. The use of such scientific sources and data maintains the credibility of an academic journal and the field which it represents.

Sharon-Krespin (2009) not only uses selective and biased references but also fails to give references for some very important information. In some cases she miscalculates, misleads and distorts the data. For instance, she states:

Today, Turkey has over 85,000 active mosques, one for every 350 citizens—compared to one hospital for every 60,000 citizens—the highest number per capita in the world, and, with 90,000 imams, more imams than doctors or teachers. It has thousands of madrasa-like Imam-Hatip schools and about four thousand more official slate-run Qur'an courses, not counting the unofficial Qur'an schools, which may expand the total number tenfold (p. 55).

There is no reference for the numbers of active mosques (85,000); therefore, the reader cannot judge the accuracy of the number or verify it through a referenced source. Ergener (2002), for example, gives the total number of mosques as 73,500 in 2002 and states that 1,500 mosques are built each year. Assuming Ergener (2002) is accurate, and 7 years have passed since his estimate, we can assume that Sharon-Krespin’s (2009) claim that there are 85,000 mosques is accurate. However, Sharon-Krespin (2009) claims that there is one mosque for every 350 citizens. According to the CIA World Factbook (2009), Turkey’s estimated population for July 2009 is 76,805,524. Using simple math, if there are 85,000 mosques for the total population, there is one mosque for 76,805,524/85,000 (which is 903). In other words, according to the numbers she provides, there is one mosque for every 903 citizens, not every 350 as she claims. She intentionally exaggerates the numbers to depict Turkey as a country where there are mosques everywhere while hospitals are not found.

Sharon-Krespin (2009) blames the Justice and Development Party (AKP) but mainly Gülen for the transformation of the “secular and democratic fundamental identity” of Turkey “away from sympathy toward Israel and much more toward friendship with Hamas, Hezbollah, and Syria. Anti-American, anti-Christian, and anti-Semitic sentiments have increased.” She implies that Gülen and the AKP have increased the number of mosques in Turkey. However, according to Ergener (2002), the number of mosques was 73,500 before the AKP government came into office. The AKP was founded in August 14, 2001, and won the November 2002 election in Turkey. Again according to Ergener (2002), 1,500 mosques were being built every year in Turkey, even before the AKP took office. If Ergener’s (2002) data were accurate, 10,500 (7*1,500) new mosques would have been added to the total number (73,500). Therefore, the number of mosques would be 84,000 (73,500+10,500). According to the CIA World Factbook (2003), the population of Turkey was estimated at 67,308,928 for July 2002. There was one mosque for every 915 (67,308,928/73,500) citizens in Turkey, before the AKP government, and even before the establishment of the party. In a comparison of 2009 and 2002, we see that there are only 12 (915–903) fewer people for each mosque. Therefore, the number of citizens per mosque did not change very much during AKP rule, from 2002 to 2009.

Within the same paragraph Sharon-Krespin (2009) provides additional data (again without any source) that there is one hospital for every 60,000 citizens in Turkey. She claims that while there is one mosque for every 350 people (in which I have already shown the miscalculation), there is only one hospital for every 60,000 citizen (the lowest ratio of hospitals per capita in the world) . By implication, while Turkey is full of mosques, people suffer from lack of health care.

First of all, in health data analysis, it is illogical and uncommon to provide the number of hospitals per person. The size and capacities of hospitals differ greatly; therefore, such data can be misleading and useless. For instance, if there are 10 hospitals in Region A, each with a bed-capacity of 1000 in a population of 1,000,000, we can conclude that there is one hospital for every 100,000 people; however, we can also conclude that there is one hospital bed for every 100 people.

On the other hand, if there are 20 hospitals in Region B, each with a bed -capacity of 100 in a population of 1,000,000, we can conclude there is one hospital for every 50,000 people, while there is only one bed for every 500 people. While, in terms of number of hospitals per person, Region B is two times better than Region A, Region A is 5 times better than Region B in terms of number of people per hospital bed. This example shows why using number of people per hospital bed in health data is logical and useful, and why this ratio has been used by the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations (UN), and any other organization which tries to provide sound data. In fact, number of beds per 10,000 people is used by most of the above-mentioned organizations. However, Sharon-Krespin (2009) used number of hospitals per person to compare with number of people per mosque (in order to mislead readers into thinking that there are 171 (60000/350) times more mosques than hospitals) in Turkey.

Sharon-Krespin’s data regarding actual health data is also misleading. The following table presents the World Health Organization (WHO) global data on health care in Turkey and other world regions in order to compare health care conditions in Turkey to other parts of the world.

table-2

*Data was obtained from the WHO website, and available at http://www.who.int/whosis/whostat/2008/en/index.html

According to the WHO data, in Turkey there are 27 hospital beds per 10,000 people, which is below the global average (30). However, it is three times more than the African Region (9), slightly more than the Region of the Americas (24), two times more than the Eastern Mediterranean (14) and close to both the global average (30) and the Western Pacific Region (33), but less than half of the European Region (63). The data for the South-East Asia Region is not available. Keeping in mind that the South-East Asia region includes the most populated region in the world, and health care provision in this region is usually lower than in other regions, the inclusion of this region would decrease the global average severely, which in turn puts Turkey above the global average. Thus, in terms of numbers of hospital beds per population, Turkey does not rank at the top of the list; however, it is much better than most countries in the world.

While this is the actual case for Turkey’s health care provision, Sharon-Krespin draws a picture of Turkey that is totally contradictory to the facts. Sharon-Krespin’s main purpose is to blame the AKP and Gülen for her false picture of Turkey.

On the other hand, the WHO data refute Sharon-Krespin’s claims with regard to the AKP. The WHO data provide a comparison of 2000 and 2005. Since the AKP became the government in Turkey in November 2002, the WHO data gives an analysis of health expenditure ratios before the AKP and during the AKP.

According to the WHO data, general government expenditure on health as a percentage of total expenditures (the ratio of health expenditure by government to total health expenditure (including both private and government)) in Turkey was 62.9% in 2000, and it increased to 71.4% in 2005, an increase of 8.5%. While the global average of this ratio stayed the same (56.0%), it decreased in the South East-Asia Region (-1.1%) and Western Pacific Region (-2.8%); it increased slightly in the African Region (1.6%), the Region of the Americas (1.0%) and the European Region (0.9%). The general government expenditure on health as a percentage of total expenditure on health also increased in the Eastern Mediterranean Region more than other regions (6.6%); however, even this increase was lower than Turkey’s. In other words, under the AKP government the general Turkish government expenditure on health as a percentage of total expenditure increased more than in any other region. The AKP government spent on health care more than not only the previous Turkish government, but also more than most of the governments in the world.

The data on general government expenditure on health as a percentage of total government expenditure also show how much the AKP government increased health care expenditure as a percentage of total government expenditure. The general Turkish government expenditure on health as a percentage of total government expenditure in 2000 was 9.8%, and it increased to 13.9% in 2005. In other words, health expenditure increased by 4.1% in total government expenditures, again one of the highest in the world, especially since it decreased by 0.7% in global expenditures.

In summary, first, under the AKP government, Turkish government spending on health increased by 8.5% (as a function of total spending only on health), which was one of the biggest increases in the world. Second, while spending on health decreased or slightly increased in other parts of the world (as a function of overall government spending), in Turkey, it increased by 4.1% from 2002 to 2005. In conclusion, the WHO data show that health care conditions in Turkey are not as Sharon-Krespin depicts them. Furthermore, even if they were as she describes, the AKP government could not be held responsible, since the AKP government has spent more than not only previous Turkish governments but also more than most governments in the world.

In the same paragraph, Sharon-Krespin reports data on the budget of Religious Affairs (RA) (Diyanet Işleri Başkanlığı). She states:

The spending of the RA has grown fivefold, from 553 trillion Turkish lira in 2002 (approximately US$325 million) to 2.7 quadrillion lira during the first four-and-a-half years of the AKP government; it has a larger budget than eight other ministries combined (p. 55).

She gives Can Dündar from Milliyet Newspaper and Reha Muhtar from Vatan Newspaper as her sources for the above data (see Sharon-Krespin (2009) endnote 1 for details of the references). According to her assertions, Turkey spends a big portion of its budget on religious affairs (a larger budget than eight other ministries combined). Even though, Sharon-Krespin does not suggest that the Religious Affairs is a ministry, her comparing it to other eight ministries may lead readers to assume that the Religious Affairs is a separate ministry. Therefore, it is helpful to point out that Religious Affairs is not a separate ministry but a secretariat under the Prime Minister. Most of the laws and regulations related to the tasks and functions of Religious Affairs have remained the same throughout the history of the Turkish Republic. In other words, the AKP has not changed much about RA.

Turkey is the 17th largest economy in the world (IMF 2009, World Bank 2008) and one of the fastest growing. If the amount of money being spent on Religious Affairs indicated by Sharon-Krespin, (larger than eight other ministries combined) were accurate, this would amount to billions of dollars, and would have caused huge debate both in Turkey, and the EU. However, such discussion is absent both in Turkey and the EU. Again, the data presented by Sharon-Krespin (2009) are inaccurate, manipulated, miscalculated, and distorted.

According the very same source that Sharon-Krespin uses (Milliyet newspaper), the numbers about the budgets of the ministries and Religious Affairs give a very different picture than that which Sharon-Krespin presents.

Milliyet (2006) presents a table of the 2006 budget for ministries (actual numbers) and a conjectural budget for 2007, which I present below.

table-3

*Milliyet (2006) indicates that the data is based on the Ministry of Treasury

As can be seen clearly, the budget for Religious Affairs was only 0.78% of the total expenditure in 2007. It is also clear that the budget for the Ministry of Defense was 6.3%; the Ministry of Education had 10.4%; and the Ministry of Health had 3.2% of the total expenditure in 2007. The combination of the budgets of these three ministries (Ministries of Defense, Education, and Health) is 25 times larger than the budget for Religious Affairs. One wonders which eight ministries Sharon-Krespin is talking about. Where did she get the data? One of the sources that she quotes gives a totally different interpretation of the facts.

In her analysis of Gülen’s intentions, Sharon-Krespin quotes several paragraphs of Fethullah Gülen’s speeches, in which Fethullah Gülen seems to be encouraging people to organize secretly in the administration until they reach a certain point and gain control of power. Most of these speeches were broadcast during a defamation campaign against Fethullah Gülen in 1998. Gülen denied the accusations and stated that the video tapes were speech excerpts without context. Aslandogan (2006) points out:

A concurrent phenomenon that happened exactly during this period was the passing of important legislation for the regulation of the banking sector and a banking crisis that eventually cost the state treasury the equivalent of nearly 100 billion dollars. The peculiar coincidence of the media campaign against Gülen and the banking legislation that was at the national assembly during this campaign was noticed by Turkish intellectuals as well as by Mr. Bülent Ecevit, then the prime minister of Turkey. Ecevit voiced his opinion that the media campaign was intended to divert public attention from important legislation to the detriment of the country. Later revelations and developments over time have unfortunately confirmed the prime minister (p. 2).

Aslandogan indicates that this defamation campaign was launched against Fethullah Gülen as a smoke-screen to divert public attention while some among the elite were emptying banks. Turkey’s loss in that period was close to 100 billion dollars. Aslandogan (2006) also states that the chief attorney for the Ankara National security court Nuh Mete Yüksel started an investigation into the matter:

It was later revealed that the clips that formed one of the bases of the campaign were excerpted without context and montages were done to leave the impression that Gülen was organizing a secret group of government workers to later take over the government. These turned out to be context‐free cut and pastes from multiple cassettes that left a completely different impression of Gülen’s intentions (p. 4).

While quoting the montaged video speeches as if they were truly representative, Sharon-Krespin fails to mention the rest of the case. In this way she excerpts without context from excerpts without context from doctored video clips.

Furthermore, Sharon-Krespin states:

In 2008, members of the Netherland's Christian Democrat, Labor, and Conservative parties agreed to cut several million euros in government funding for organizations affiliated with “the Turkish imam Fethullah Gülen” and to thoroughly investigate the activities of the Gülen group after Erik Jan Zürcher, director of the Amsterdam-based International Institute for Social History, and five former Gülen followers who had worked in Gülen’s ιşιkevi told Dutch television that the Gülen community was moving step by step to topple the secular order (p. 59).

In her reference section she shows Erik Jan Zürcher, “Kamermeerderheid Eist Onderzoek Naar Turkse Beweging,” NOVA documentary, July 4, 2008 as her source of the above quoted information. In this documentary produced by Zürcher, there are only unsubstantiated claims against the Gülen Movement and Gülen himself. These claims are similar to made by marginal groups in Turkey. In fact, Hikmet çetinkaya of Cumhuriyet newspaper, whose chief editor Ilhan Selcuk (also licensee) was also taken into custody in the investigation of the Ergenekon Terror Organization, appears several times in the film. Most of the claims in the film are supported by statements from five “former Gülen followers.”. In the film, the faces of these five people are obscured and their voices are changed in order to hide their identities. If asked why their identities were covered, most probably the producers of the film would claim that it was in order to protect them. However, covering the faces and disguising the voices of the five also lends an air of mystery or subterfuge and makes their claims difficult to refute. It may have been done because in reality there are  no such “former Gülen followers,” but only people who were paid to speak as instructed.

On cutting funding to the schools, Sharon-Krespin fails to provide sources. If the source is the aforementioned film or documentary, (as one assumes), she again fails to cite correctly. The film itself only asks the Netherlands’ government to cut funding after providing fabricated information. However, there is no corroboration of the funding actually being cut. She asserts the wishes and claims of these marginal groups as if they were fact.

In the remaining part of this article, I will address some logical contradictions within the Sharon-Krespin article.

Contradictions and Ambiguities in Sharon-Krespin (2009)

At the very beginning of the article, Sharon-Krespin (2009) states:

Prior to the AKP’s rise, Ankara oriented itself toward the United States and Europe. Today, despite the rhetoric of European Union accession, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has turned Turkey away from Europe and toward Russia and Iran and reoriented Turkish policy in the Middle East away from sympathy toward Israel and much more toward friendship with Hamas, Hezbollah, and Syria. Anti-American, anti-Christian, and anti-Semitic sentiments have increased (p. 55).

Later on, she states:
In October 2007, the British House of Lords feted Gülen with a conference in his honor (p. 57).

Furthermore, she states:
…the Russian government, weary of the movement's activities in majority Muslim regions of the federation, has banned not only the Gülen schools but all activities of the entire Nur sect in the country (p. 59).

With regards to Gülen’s immigration case, she states:
Two former CIA officials, George Fidas and Graham Fuller, and former U.S. ambassador to Turkey Morton Abramowitz also supplied references (p. 65).

Even though it is not clear, the implication from Sharon-Krespin (under the title US Government Support for Gülen) is that the US government supports Gülen and its granting him residency supports that idea.

At the beginning of the article, Sharon-Krespin (2009) attracts the attention of the Western reader by asserting that Turkey is no longer EU–USA oriented but Russia–Iran oriented. However, her later quotes indicate that the EU–USA supports Gülen while the Russian government bans the Gülen-inspired schools. If the AKP and Gülen are trying to pull Turkey towards Russia and Iran and away from the EU–USA, one wonders why Russia is banning schools (but this information is also not accurate), why the British House of Lords is organizing a conference in Gülen’s honor, why CIA agents and US. diplomats provide references for Fethullah Gülen, and why the US government is supporting Gülen by granting him residency rights.

Sharon-Krespin is not alone in these contradictory arguments about who is behind Fethullah Gülen. Some of the sources used by Sharon-Krespin present similar contradictory claims. Some suggest that the American CIA may be a financial backer behind the GM projects (see Kalyoncu (2008) for examples of such claims), and others claim that Gülen is a western plot in Turkey and Islam in general. Meanwhile, the chief writer of the daily newspaper Milli Gorus—a right-wing Islamist newspaper—Mehmet Sevket Eygi (2000a, 2000b) accused (though not directly) Gülen of being a secret agent of the papacy.

None of the above claims have been supported with evidence. They are claims which have been made in TV interviews (on marginal TV channels), or in newspapers and on internet blogs (again marginal ones). These forms of information may be circulated in such sources; however, if they are used in academic venues, they need to be supported by data (unbiased, correctly presented and calculated) or logical assertion. In conclusion, Sharon-Krespin provides a picture of Turkey and Gülen which is contradictory to the facts. However, more importantly, she uses biased, selective, miscalculated, misleading, and misrepresentative data in order to draw these false pictures. Turkey’s role with regard to American interests has increased with the recent changes in the Middle East and Central Asia, especially with regard to war on terror in general, but also the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. President Obama’s visit to Turkey highlighted the important role of Turkey and underlined the American administration’s awareness of this importance. Therefore, American readers need an accurate picture of Turkey. Sharon-Krespin’s article reminds us (one more time) how cautious readers need to be in interpreting the flow of information, and it serves as an example of how artificial and false information and conclusions can be produced by using selective, biased, miscalculated, misleading, and misrepresentative data.

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Sharon-Krespin, Rachel. 2009. Fethullah Gülen’s Grand Ambition.” Middle East Quarterly, Vol. 16(1), 2009, 55–66.

Taraf. 2008. Ergenekon’da gözaltı ve dava. Istanbul retrieved from http://www.taraf.com.tr/haber/20030.htm, October 27, 2008.

Woodhall, Ruth. 2005. “Organizing the Organization, Educating the Educators: An Examination of Fethullan Gülen’s Teaching and the Membership of the Movement.” Proceedings from Islam in the Contemporary World: The Fethullah Gülen Movement in Thought and Practice. Rice University, Houston, 2005.

World Bank. 2008. Gross Domestic Product:Data for 2007. http://siteresources.worldbank.org/DATASTATISTICS/Resources/GDP.pdf (accessed May 12, 2009).


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Comments

Jamzi says:

Wow!! Such a falsely depicted picture by Rachel Sharon-Krespin.
Fethullah Gulen Forum, Koc and Helen Ebaugh thank you for this eye-opener. 5 stars!
Abe says:

I hear Rachel Sharon-Krespin's cry as Victor Hugo portrays.
"The curious thing is the haughty, superior, and compassionate airs which this groping philosophy assumes towards the philosophy which beholds God. One fancies he hears a mole crying, "I pity them with their sun!""
Thank you Dr. Koc and Dr. Ebaugh for exonerating Fethullah Gulen from this sly slander.
Thank you!
MorningStar says:

It's quite clear that Sharon-Krespin did have any empirical research & this is sad because most people just believe what they read. Good article. Thanks.
Ed Johnson says:

What a shame for not only Sharon-Krespin, but also the publishers/reviewers/editors for the article! Their credibility has been clearly damaged. I think they need an apology. Thanks for presenting scientific facts.
Khan says:

Ms. Sharon is 99% wrong about her ideas. Thank you for this brief article about Mr. Gulen and his movement. Also thanks for showing the truth, Mr. Koc!
Adam Schmidt says:

Thanks to Koc for presenting the scientific facts !
Elia says:

Thanks for your great work... And thanks for being so objective and honest with the "numbers". I am so disappointed about Sharon-Krespin... I don't think that I can believe what ever she says anymore.
Guest says:

Sharon-Krespin are just served!
Secil says:

I hope Ms. Sharon will apologize for her article from the movement. However, this is not her fault. She might have had some friends from Turkey who are accused under Ergenekon trial.
Arielle says:

Looks like you are an expert in this field, Great article and keep up the good work, my buddy recommended me this.

John says:

Nice article, eye opening!
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