Media is seen “an essential and inevitable tool for the Gulen movement to reach out to larger society”. Fetullah Gulen himself encouraged his followers to engage in publishing as a way of spreading the message of the importance of education and service. Inspired by Gulen, his followers established a massive media network with TV and radio stations, newspapers, magazines, journals, news agencies and printing houses starting from 1979 with a monthly journal called Sizinti. It came out with an editorial written by Gulen himself.
In 1986, participants of Gulen’s cult bought Zaman newspaper. It was published in multiple languages in 35 countries with the purpose of being “the voice of the unheard, weak and ignored”. However, when the archive of the newspaper is examined, it is possible to see racist and discriminative news stories particularly against Christians and Armenians at the beginning of the 1990s. For example, the issue published on 5 August 1994 appears with the headline: “The chief of terror is Armenian”. The story claimed that the top positions of the PKK terrorist organization was occupied by Armenians and people of Kurdish origin in senior positions were killed.
The headline of the issue published on 9 June 1993 reads “Dirty set-up by Church”. The story “exposes” the “blasphemous tactics” of Christian missionaries in Turkey, who proselytize by pretending to respect Muslims.
“Missionaries go astray” reads the headline of Zaman on 1 September 1990. Christian missionaries reportedly carried pages of the Qur’an among their booklets according to the article.
Such demonising language can also be seen in the issues before the 1990s. For instance, the headline “Christians accelerate their propaganda” appeared on 29 September 1988. The subheader written in bold reads “Locals are disturbed” [by missionaries].
Likewise, the issue from 12 December 1988 targeted a Christian named Pierre Renard. He worked as a priest and philosophy teacher in Istanbul, and allegedly taught high school students to rebel against the [Turkish] state.
Such journalism replete with anti-Christian propaganda is believed to have motivated the assassinations of Christian citizens in the 2000s. Among these are Priest Andrea Santoro who was killed in the city of Trabzon on 5 February 2006 by a teenager. Armenian journalist Hrant Dink (2007), priestAndrea Santoro (2006), and three Christian citizens working in a bible publishing house in the Malatya city of Turkey (2007) were also murdered.
Zaman started to publish in the English language with the name “Today’s Zaman” on 16 January 2007. However, the English version was often significantly different from the Turkish one. A journalist, Claire Berlinski, explains in an article that “remarks about enemies of Islam, perfidious Armenians, and Mossad plots are edited out of the English version, as are other comments that sound incompatible with the message of intercultural tolerance”. She gives the example of Gulen’s criticism of the government over the Kurdish issue, in which the English version omitted Gulen’s curse of Kurdish people:
“Knock their [Kurds’] homes upside down, destroy their unity, reduce their homes to ashes, may their homes be filled with weeping and supplications, burn and cut off their roots, and bring their affairs to an end.”
Likewise, Gulen’s rebuttal of his followers’ infiltration to state institutions was published in Today’s Zaman but some of the original quote was omitted:
“To urge fellow citizens to seek employment at state institutions is not called infiltration. Both the people urged and these institutions belong to the same country. . . . It is a right for them to be employed in state posts.”
The omitted sentence was “Kastedilen manadaki sızmayı belli bir dönemde bu milletten olmayanlar yaptılar,”, which means the state was infiltrated in the past—by those who “weren’t part of this nation.”After a magazine with editorials written by Gulen and a newspaper were published, the group set up a television channel called Samanyolu TV in 1993. By the late 1990s, the corporation already had offices in Azerbaijan, Germany and the US.
Gulenist Broadcasting Company
Dunya Radio went on air in 1993. In 1994, the group launched its own news agency Cihan. A year later, another radio station “Burc FM” started broadcasting. The 2000s marked the expansion of Gulen’s media empire with more television channels in different languages, broadcasting news, cartoons, sales, religious content, culture and entertainment. All channels belonged to the Samanyolu Broadcasting Company.
Mehtap TV started broadcasting in 2006. The shows included “Fetullah Gulen – Hercules Tunes”, “Hadith Reading”, and “Islam and Life”. Ebru TV, a cable TV network, was set up in the US by the Gulenist Samanyolu Broadcasting Company in the US in 2006. Its purpose was to introduce Turkish culture. In 2007, Xəzər TV started broadcasting in Azerbaijan. In the same year, a channel for children went on air, becoming the first free public television channel. Dunya TV started broadcasting in Kurdish after it was founded in 2010. Tuna Shopping TV, with the motto “Safe Shopping,” started broadcasting in 2011. Irmak TV broadcast religious content like Fetullah Gulen’s sermons. Hira TV went on air in 2014 and broadcasted in Arabic. Some of the channels were taken over by the government within the scope of an investigation into the Gulenist group while others were shut down.
The media expansion continued with more magazines and journals, newspapers, news agencies, radio stations and publishing houses.
In 1993, the Fountain magazine was started to be published bimonthly by Tughra Books (a Gulenist publishing house) in the US, and it was distributed throughout the world. It included articles by Fetullah Gulen. The magazine has its headquarter in Rutherford, New Jersey but has offices in Istanbul, Cairo, Kuala Lumpur, Moscow and Sydney.
Tughra Books is a Gulenist publishing house based in Clifton, New Jersey, US. It publishes books on Islam, Islamic history and art, Islamic spirituality and traditions. Gulen himself is a featured writer with ten books.
The Blue Dome is another Gulenist publishing house based in the US that focuses on academic works in the fields of interfaith dialogue, intercultural studies, philosophy, art, culture and history. There is a special category of books for Fetullah Gulen. Some of these books aim to introduce the Gulenist cult others give information about Gulen himself.