Ankara, Nov 20 () - President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said he was “betrayed” by the movement of U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, vowing to press ahead with the fight against what he refers to as the “parallel structure.”
“I should say this very clearly: They know me very well personally, but I know them too. They have betrayed Tayyip Erdoğan. My struggle is to take whatever belongs to my people from them,” Erdoğan said in an interview broadcast on A Haber TV station late on Nov. 18.
His statement came on the same day as a court appointed a panel of trustees to Kaynak Holding, thought to be sympathetic to Gülen. The move came almost three weeks after Koza Holding and its media groups were also seized by judicial order. Both Koza Holding and Kaynak Holding, which have diverse interests across sectors, are accused of financing the Gülen movement, which was this year outlawed as a “terrorist organization” by the government.
“I have already said that I will continue this struggle even though I will be on my own. You also see that we conduct this struggle within the limits of the law,” Erdoğan added.
Erdoğan’s previous governments and the Gülen movement once enjoyed a close alliance, starting from the early years of the Justice and Development Party (AKP). However, this relationship was broken after the police and the judiciary launched a huge corruption investigation against senior AKP officials, including some of Erdoğan’s family members.
The AKP said this operation was a plot conspired by Gülenist police officers and prosecutors who established a “parallel structure” within the state in order to overthrow the government.
Gülen, a self-exiled religious leader residing in Pennsylvania, is now accused of being the leader of a terrorist organization and of controlling all of its activities.
Asked whether he had requested the deportation of Gülen from the U.S. in his recent meeting with President Barack Obama, Erdoğan said there were “discussions.”
“Beyond all of these meetings, we as the state and the government have signed very serious contract with a law firm. I believe that this will give results very soon. It’s not right for me to disclose details, but we are taking some very special steps that will make them live a very different future,” he added.
“This is not an ordinary thing. They should be cleared out from the state. Legal regulations are necessary for this. I am of the opinion that we’ll get more results rapidly if the government can make these legal regulations hand in hand with the opposition,” Erdoğan also stated.
The president also referred to an investigation carried out in the U.S. into malpractice at charter schools run by Gülen sympathizers in a number of states.
“They have these famous charter schools, around 300 of them. They are receiving a serious amount of money from them, but they are very quiet about them. This money amounts to around $150 million a year. That’s not a small amount of money, but when you question them about their financial sources, they use a subtle wit [to answer],” Erdoğan said, describing the Gülen movement as “little different from a mafia organization.”
“Although this group is trying to promote itself with its activities in education and emphasizing tolerance, it is little different from a mafia organization … The people will never forgive those who cooperate with such a terrorist organization,” he added.