Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Gulen Schools Worldwide, The Guardian explores Sik's book "The Imam's Army"
Investigative journalist Ahmet Sik sees his Army of the Imam seized in court-ordered 'Operation Delete'
Journalists protest the detention of colleagues, including investigative journalist Ahmet Sik, shown on the poster in the centre, in Ankara, Turkey. Photograph: Burhan Ozbilici/AP
Publishers in Turkey are often in court, but for the first time the authorities have censored a book that is not even finished. On 24 March police launched a series of raids on newspapers, publishers and even cells at Silivri prison in an attempt to pick up drafts of The Army of the Imam, a book the investigative journalist Ahmet Sik had nearly finished when he was taken into custody in early March.
An Istanbul court ordered all his work to be seized. "Operation Delete has started," wrote Ertugrul Mavioglu, a journalist on the Radikal daily. Police forced him to wipe a copy of his friend's manuscript from his computer.
The public prosecutor alleges that Sik belongs to the Ergenekon organisation, purportedly an ultranationalist group, and is trying to undermine the moderate Islamist government. But in arresting Sik and another journalist, Nedim Sener, who has criticised the police, the courts prompted an outcry among Turkish democrats who maintain that the Ergenekon affair is just an excuse for settling political scores.
Demonstrations in support of the writers were held in Istanbul and the capital Ankara. "Anyone who touches Gülen gets burnt," Sik shouted, as he was led away in handcuffs.
The Army of the Imam was expected to throw light on the murky links between the police and the religious brotherhood led by the Turkish imam Fethullah Gülen, who has been living in exile in the US since 1999. His followers control whole swaths of the nation's economy, operate schools all over the world, and have interests in banking, healthcare, humanitarian action and the media. The elitist, secretive Islamic organisation has patiently infiltrated state apparatus over the past 20 years.
In a book published last year a former police chief, Hanefi Avci, lodged various allegations. His book was a bestseller when he too was imprisoned, charged with "entertaining links with a terrorist organisation", the Revolutionary Headquarters.
From his home in Pennsylvania, Gülen, 70, issued a statement via his lawyer, denying involvement in the arrest of the various writers. "Even books that have already been proved to be illegal are still being published," Gülen said, according to a CNNTürk television report. He may yet be proved right. The Imaminordusu.com website claims Sik's book will be published on the net on 11 April.
This article originally appeared in Le Monde