Ankara Inspecting Jewish-Turkish Business Mogul for Support of ‘Parallel Movement’
The Ankara Public Prosecutor is inspecting claims that the chairman of one of Turkey’s largest business conglomerates has provided financial and moral support to the so-called “parallel structure,” Turkish media reported on Tuesday.
The chairman in question is İshak Alaton, chairman of Alarko Holding, and the “parallel movement” is an apparent reference to the transnational Islamic Gulen movement based in Turkey, which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan famously accused of attempting to overthrow his government through a wide-reaching graft scandal in 2013.
The charges against Alaton, who is Jewish, are based on a reading of his 2013 biography, Unnecessary Man, by Mehmet Gündem, which claimed that Alaton provided “financial and moral support to the parallel structure.” The charges themselves were leveled after a former colleague of Alaton’s, ex-Alarko executive Doğan Kasadolu, filed a criminal complaint against Alaton based on passages from his biography which stressed Alaton’s support for the Gulen movement’s schools outside Turkey, particularly one in Moscow.
The “inspection” was first reported by the Turkish daily Sözcü, and has apparently been ongoing for about a year.
While the Gulen movement, whose moderate goals were traditionally steered toward education and interfaith dialogue, had been a supporter of Erdogan’s AKP, relations became hostile following a 2013 high-profile corruption scandal that rocked Turkey and implicated several government ministers and led to calls for Erdogan to step down. Erdogan in part blamed the graft scandal on the Gulen movement, accusing its leaders of seeking to upend his government.
The passage from Alaton’s book that spurred the inspection was reported by Turkish BGN news:
“This movement is a great educational movement. It educates people. It changes people’s outlook on life and makes them into better equipped, worldly people. The Gülen movement is involved in educational efforts. I’ve seen the outcome of such efforts with my own eyes. Once in Moscow we, as a company, participated in the establishment of such a school. We managed to acquire the land from the Moscow municipality and the school began there. The Russian officials asked us, ‘What are they trying to do? We don’t know them, what do you say?’ Me and [my business partner] Üzeyir Garih vouched for them, we told them, ‘don’t worry, let them build the school.’”