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The Situation: They tried to kill me and topple my government. They failed. Allahﷻ helped me and I was able to provide the leadership for my people to come out into the streets. Allahﷻ caused even those who opposed me to support me. Truly I witnessed the help of Allahﷻ all through the night so that by the morning the coup failed and my government and I were both safe. My heart was touched to see how my people came out; the old, the young, men and women. They came out and risked their lives so that I and my government may be saved. Some even lost their lives in the process. I can’t possibly thank them. I ask Allahﷻ to count them among the Shuhada and to be pleased with them and to reward them with the best of the best.
The Challenge: Coup leaders have been arrested. Suspected and known sympathizers have been arrested. Those who fired shots which killed innocent citizens have been arrested. Fethullah Gulen who we suspect, masterminded the coup is safe in the US. The world leadership is disappointed that the coup failed. So their media is looking for any means to malign me and find fault with me and my work style so that they can undermine me and project me as an authoritarian dictator instead of the elected leader of my people. My challenge is to defeat them. To achieve a moral and PR victory after achieving a physical victory. In the world of today, the moral and PR victory is perhaps even more important now that the physical victory has been achieved. So what are my options?
Option 1: Purge. The word stinks for that is what a purge is. It results in a very big mess. Danger: For every single enemy I kill, no matter how justified that may be, I will create ten more who will be hidden, praying for my destruction and lying in wait for an opportunity to do me and my government harm in one way or another.
Option 2: Forgive. Danger: I will appear to be weak and unable to take ruthless action. Families of people who died in the coup will feel that they were betrayed and their dear ones not avenged. I can’t afford that as these are the people who supported me without question and paid for that with their lives. Also a coup is treason. It is rebellion against the legitimate government of the nation and the punishment for that is clear in every nation, every time. So I have to take action and take it fast and with justice foremost.
Option 3: Punish & Forgive. Punish the actual people who pulled the trigger and killed civilians. Proceed against them in the courts and let justice take its course. If that means a court martial for the soldiers followed by a firing squad, then so be it. Be transparent and just. Make sure the world sees what is happening.
Those who didn’t actually pull the trigger but still participated in the coup; once again let the courts decide. But no death penalty. Prison sentence plus stripping of all ranks and rewards.
Suspected sympathizers: Investigate them. If there is evidence that they plotted against the nation, then take action. If there is no evidence, then let them go. Suspicion is not evidence.
What not to do: Don’t be vengeful. Eliminate enemies by eliminating enmity as Rasoolullahﷺ did after the conquest of Makkah. Take the high moral ground and rise above the desire to get even. Remember that the long term consequences of revenge can be disastrous. I don’t need that. I need peace of mind to work to develop my nation. Not keep watching my back all the time. Don’t create martyrs. Nobody can fight a martyr because he is already dead. The power of a martyr to inspire is unlimited. So don’t give the enemies that power. Forgiveness takes the wind out of the sails of the enemy. He has nothing to gain support for. He becomes helpless.
The best example is the example of Rasoolullahﷺ. Here is an ideal opportunity to demonstrate it. Who better to do it than we, the Turks, who were the last standard bearers of the Khilafa. May Allahﷻ use us to demonstrate the goodness of Islam.
Coup de grâce: Fethullah Gulen. He is a suspect. Suspicion in not evidence. So offer him total amnesty and invite him to come and live in Turkey. Appoint him as my adviser. Acknowledge his contribution to the nation and ask him to advise us as a senior.
Am I insane? I am very sane. It is better to have a suspected enemy inside my tent pissing outside rather than outside, pissing in. Having him close to me means that I will always know what he is up to. That is a benefit in itself. Finally, it is highly unlikely that he will accept this offer. So be it. The fact that the offer was made will win the PR battle and put him on the back foot. That is also a victory. Sane or insane?