Fetullah Gulen Movement declared as terrorist organization by Turkey
BY ROGER M. BALANZA
A terrorist group from Turkey is operating schools in the Philippines, according to Turkish Ambassador Esra Cankorur.
Cankorur said the Fetullah Gulen Movement runs a school in Zamboanga City and two others in Manila.
Malacañang on Thursday said the government is verifying the claims made by the Turkish ambassador over the presence of the Turkish terror group in the Philippines, according to state-owned Philippine News Agency (PNA)’.
The Gulen movement was classified as a terrorist organization by the Turkish government in 2015.
The Turkish government blames the movement for the 2016 failed coup attempt against President Recept Tayyip Erdogan.
Like the Middle East-based Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS or IS), considered as today’s most violent terrorist organization, the Gulen Movement has also been accused of having global, apocalyptic ambition to establish strongholds all over the world.
ISIS aims to establish a “global Islamic state” and has linked up with local terrorist groups in the Philippines like the Abu Sayyaf and Maute Group. The terrorist attack and occupation of Marawi City on May 22 was reportedly a prelude to creating Mindanao as a caliphate of the ISIS.
Founded by Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen, the Gulen Movement is known as an Islamic transnational religious and social movement.
Gulen is now based in the United States.
The movement has attracted supporters in Turkey, Central Asia, and other parts of the world. It is active in education with private schools and universities in over 180 countries.
The revelation of Cankorur that the Gulen Movement runs schools in the Philippines is an affirmation of this mission by the Turkish terror group to export its influence in foreign shores.
The Gulen Movement has substantial investments in media, finance, and for-profit health clinics.
Before being outlawed as a terrorist organization, the Gulen Movement has strong influence in Turkish politics, the judiciary, military and police, and business.
Despite its teachings that are considered conservative even in Turkey, some have praised the movement as a pacifist, modern-oriented version of Islam, and as an alternative to more extreme schools of Islam.
But like the ISIS, the movement has also been accused of having “global, apocalyptic ambition.”
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement said “the military is verifying the statement of Cankorur regarding the presence of Turkish terrorists, particularly the Fetullah Gulen Movement, in the Philippines,” according to PNA.
The Palace official assured that the Philippine government does not tolerate any group found aiding terrorists and will hold them accountable.
“We will investigate organizations abetting or aiding terrorism and will hold them accountable, especially those that may be working as fronts for terrorist and criminal activities, as alleged by the Ambassador,” he said.
“We are also working closely with all other nations to combat terrorism. This is now a global threat that can be better addressed through a unified effort,” Abella said.
Earlier, Cankorur said that the Fetullah Gulen Movement is “active” here through a school in Zamboanga, opened in 1997, and two other schools in Manila.
In a televised interview, the Turkish ambassador claimed that “the movement also has foundations on the cultural side.”
“This is their facade, thinking them as civic education institutions and innocent charity organizations. That will be a huge mischaracterization; that is wrong. They are the facade. They talk about inter-faith dialogue, but they are concealing themselves,” she said during the interview.
She said the group’s presence in the Philippines is “a bad thing” because it is a “terrorist group.”