Two leading members of Turkish Parliament with academic backgrounds refuted U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s claim that there are members of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Turkish government.
Yasin Aktay, a deputy who used to be a spokesman for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) from 2015 to 2017, said the Muslim Brotherhood and the AK Party are two different entities with different political and social backgrounds.
“The AK Party is not an branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. It has its own party program, identity and policy,” said Aktay, who also holds a Ph.D. in Islamic discourse in Turkey.
State Secretary Rex Tillerson was defending the Donald Trump administration’s decision to delay designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group during a hearing in the U.S. House of Representatives last week.
“At the top of the quality chain, if I can call it that, there are elements of Muslim Brotherhood that have now become part of governments. There are members of parliament in Bahrain that are parts of government. There are members in Turkey that are parts of government,” he told congressmen.
The statement has astonished many Turkish experts in Washington, D.C. Although Turkey has backed the Muslim Brotherhood in the Middle East, there is no evidence to suggest that the AK Party is part of the group.
Rather than being a subordinate to the Brotherhood, Turkish officials believe their success in Turkey was an inspiration to the Brotherhood, which elected a president to office in Egypt in 2012.
“Neither the Muslim Brotherhood nor the Saudi influenced Wahhabi, Salafi movements nor the Iran-originated revolutionary concept were able to deeply penetrate main stream religious understanding and politics in Turkey,” said Talip Küçükcan, another deputy for the AK Party, with a Ph.D. in theology.
Küçükcan says conservative movements, such as the AK Party, have been influenced by Turkey’s own political and social realities.
“Surely there were some marginalized groups that were inspired by the Brotherhood,” he said.
Küçükcan asserts that the AK Party government and the Muslim Brotherhood have never had an organic link.
“The AK Party supported the Brotherhood and similar legitimate movements based on its principles. These movements represent social demands and they are non-violent and they support fair and free elections. Most of these groups have taken the AK Party as an example for their own conduct,” he added.