Turkish US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen's response to a report released last week by Turkey's Presidency of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) was similar to that of other terror organisations, a senior academic in Ankara has claimed.
Rifat Serav Ilhan, the General Secretary of the Ankara-based Political Psychology Association, told the Anadoulou Agency that Gulen's response to the report released by the Diyanet was indicative of him desperately trying to preserve and maintain his organisational doctrine.
Gulen responded to the report on Saturday, defending his organisation and controversial views in a published speech.
According to Ilhan, the report, titled "From its own mouth, how FETO exploits religion" laid bare the group's organisational doctrine, its contradictions and distortions of the world and the belief system created by Gulen himself.
Gulen has been living in self-imposed exile for more than 17 years in the United States. The Turkish government calls Gulen's movement Fethullah Terrorist Organisation or FETO.
Turkey accuses FETO of a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.
The government also accuses FETO of orchestrating last year's defeated coup which left 249 people dead and more than 2,000 injured. Gulen denies all charges.
"FETO ringleader's speech and his response to the report, show technical characteristics that are almost universally seen in other terror organisations and cult structures."
He said that the language and context of Gulen's speech on Saturday "intended to protect the doctrine of the organisation and the legitimacy of its belief system, maintain the obedience of the members of the organisation, and make sure his followers do not develop any type of inquisitive and critical thought regarding him."
"He is essentially trying to preserve and protect his perverted teachings. FETO uses totalitarian ideology and doctrine that is intended to stop criticising and questioning views just like cult and terror organization such as the Unification Church, Mormons, PKK, Al Qaeda, Daesh and DHKP-C," said Ilhan.
The DHKP-C is an outlawed ultra-leftist group listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, Britain, the European Union, and the United States. The group has participated in a number of attacks in Turkey, including a suicide bombing at the US embassy in Ankara in February 2013. It was also behind the killing of prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz at a courthouse in Istanbul in March 2015.
Like the DHKP-C, the PKK is also listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US and the EU. It has waged an armed campaign against the Turkish state for most of the period since 1984. It resumed its armed struggle in July 2015 after a brief suspension of hostilities. Since then, authorities say it has killed around 1,200 people, including women and children. The Unification Church was started by controversial Sun Myung Moon, and is often considered a cult.
Ilhan said that like other terror organisations, Gulen uses stereotypes and polarising and reductive language to disparage and discredit the current efforts to stop and eradicate his group.
"Instead of talking about the findings of the report, Gulen is re-framing the report in a different context, he is trying to categorise the government and Turkish society's negative opinions of his organisation as illegitimate and evil. Gulen is also telling the members of his organisation not to pay heed to what is said in the report. For example, he defined the public and social awareness against his group as ignorant crowds formed by mob psychology," said Ilhan.
He accused the group of also using religious education as a way of controlling a person's will and preventing individual decision-making.
"They actually believe that the ringleader's words are divine and sacred to the extent that the general public can't comprehend and understand their meaning. Just as expected, Gulen continues to try to preserve the doctrinal loyalties of the members of the cult by stating that those who prepared the report are ignorant and uninformed," said Ilhan.