After the coup in Turkey ended swiftly, many have already begun questioning its legitimacy. One man, a cleric named Fethullah Gülen, seems to believe the coup was staged, while Turkish President Erdogan blames Gülen for initiating it.
Erdogan and Gülen have a long and not-so-friendly history. Erdogan aligns himself with the Muslim Brotherhood, a strict, traditionalist, and often radical group, while Gülen leads the so-called Hizmet movement, a modern interpretation of Islam which teaches interfaith communication and democracy.
Gülen was banished from Turkey, and now lives in Pennsylvania in exile, where Turkish officials claim he incited this most recent coup. Gülen, however, has voiced his opposition of military interventions, saying “After military coups in Turkey, I have been pressured and I have been imprisoned. I have been tried and faced various forms of harassment.”. He added that “Now that Turkey is on the path to democracy, it cannot turn back.”
There is more to the theory that this coup was staged than just the words of an old man living in exile. Some unconfirmed reports have shown that many in the Turkish military were told the event was a military training. Other confirmed reports show that 2,745 judges have been removed from office. Many have questioned how it was possible for the Turkish government was able to get names and take action so quickly.
Many in Turkey and around the world are comparing this failed coup to the Reichstag fire of 1933, where Hitler seized the opportunity to gain more control over Germany, turning it into his own personal dictatorship. Erdogan even called the coup “a gift from God,” and that it would help cleanse the military of “members of the gang” who would “pay a heavy price for their treason”.
In the meantime, Turkey has grounded air strikes against ISIS, which could allow the Islamic State to make advances that endanger the lives of many innocent people.
The timing, combined with Erdogan’s history of turning the country into more of a dictatorship could spell disaster for democracy and for the people of Turkey. Was the coup actually staged? Who knows. But what we do know is that this story is far from over.