The Turkish government has claimed that Fethullah Gulen Terrorist Organisation (FETO), blamed for last month’s failed coup to topple President Tayyip Erdogan, has “infiltrated” India and sought action to remove it. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu during talks with his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj suggested that FETO is “secretive transnational criminal network” with presence around the world and has infiltrated India through associations and schools.
FETO, a name given to the Gulen movement by the Turkish government, is headed by Turkish preacher Muhammed Fethullah Gülen. It is a transnational Islamic civic society movement inspired by Gulen’s teachings. The Turkish Justice and Development Party government, which was once an ally of Gulen, however, has designated the movement as a terrorist organisation. It has attracted supporters in Central Asia and other parts of the world and has been characterized as a “moderate blend of Islam with its members being tech friendly and pro-modern communications.
Within Turkey, FETO keeps its distance from established Islamic political parties, but is active active in areas like education, interfaith dialogue, civic opportunities, humanitarian aid, media, finance, and health. It also has its newspaper called Today’s Zaman. It is being said that FETO, which has earned praise as “the world’s most global movement”, is vying to be recognized as the world’s leading Muslim network.
FETO also runs many charity and humanitarian aid organizations including the famous Istanbul-based Kimse Yok Mu Association (KYM). KYM whic campaigns to help those in need in different parts of the world. The Turkish government has accused FETO of being involved in the ongoing Ergenekon investigation. However, its supporters call it “a pretext” by the government “to neutralize dissidents” in Turkey.
After the failed coup attempt in July this year, Turkish President Erdoğan blamed the group for the coup and the authorities arrested thousands of its soldiers beside suspending over ten thousand education staff. Also, the licenses of over 20,000 teachers working at private institutions were revoked for their alleged affiliation to Gülen. However, Fethullah Gülen strongly condemned the coup, and rejected claims of his involvement. More than 240 people died and over 1,500 others were injured as a fallout of the failed coup.
Gülen, who was named in TIME magazine’s World’s 100 Most Influential People in 2013, was listed as one of the 500 most influential Muslims by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre in Amman, Jordan. He is currently in self-imposed exile in the United States.