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Is Gulen an Armenian?

Pro-government figures in Turkey have declared Fethullah Gulen to be Armenian and Jewish in an attempt to deny the Islamic background of the person it blames for the recent coup attempt.
U.S. based cleric Fethullah Gulen at his home in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 29, 2016.  REUTERS/Charles Mostoller - RTSKAJX

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly told the world and his people that the words “Islam” and “terrorism” should not be used together, because Muslims cannot be terrorists. Indeed, Erdogan has insisted that students who attend Turkey's religious imam-hatip high schools would never become terrorists. Yet the man Erdogan accuses of masterminding the July 15 coup attempt is none other than the president's former close friend and ally, Fethullah Gulen, a Sunni imam. This has made the situation rather uncomfortable for the president and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government. Acknowledging that Muslims might deliberately hurt and even murder other Muslims is not easy in general for the majority of Turks, so what can be done to address this uncomfortable reality?

The easiest solution would be to resuscitate an answer that Turks have used in the past — that is, declare the enemy to be non-Muslim and foreign. In this case, the Armenian has once again emerged as the imagined culprit, invoked to help Turks assuage their troubled conscience.

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