The Gulen Mystery

The Gulen Mystery

Tanks rolling over the Bosphorus bridges in Istanbul by night. Soldiers firing at unarmed protesters. A TV anchor forced at gunpoint to read a statement from the mutinous officers. 250 people dead. TV images of Turkey’s failed military coup of 15 July 2016 shocked the world but what lay behind them?

Following failed coup, soldiers surrender with their hands in the air next to two tanks. They are on a bridge over the Bosphorus in Istanbul, Turkey, on morning of 16 July 2016. Still taken from RTD's documentary series The Gulen Mystery.
The attempted 2016 military coup in Turkey quickly failed. Turkey’s President Erdogan claims exiled preacher Fethullah Gulen was the coup's mastermind.

The Turkish President, Recep Erdogan, accused Fethullah Gulen, an elderly imam living in the United States, of conspiring against him. Allegedly, this advocate of a tolerant Islam, who promoted science and education, ordered an army of followers that he denies commanding to rise up against Turkey’s democratically elected government. Since then, Turkish authorities have been clamouring for his extradition.

Headshot of Fethullah Gulen next to an inscription in arabic, at his home in Pennsylvania, USA. Still taken from RTD's documentary series The Gulen Mystery.
For decades, Fethullah Gulen has preached a tolerant, conservative Islam in tune with modern society.

In a five-part documentary series about Fethullah Gulen, RTD investigates Turkey’s most wanted man and his enigmatically elusive movement. It’s an unlikely thriller, spanning continents, and shrouded in mystery. It connects an unlikely mix of American high schoolers and Central Asian politicians, German florists and post-Soviet spiritual seekers, Turkish businessmen and US diplomats.

Boys in grey uniform are sitting in a classroom facing their teacher in a lab coat. Still taken from RTD's documentary series The Gulen Mystery.
Fethullah Gulen became famous for his international education network that focuses on science and technology.

Followers and critics tell RTD about their experiences with Hizmet; the Gulen inspired movement that had members who served in almost every sphere of society. Specialists give insights into the sentimental hermit's life and philosophy. Education, religion, money, politics: slowly, the jigsaw pieces come together in this unique in-depth documentary series that undertakes to unravel the mystery that is Fethullah Gulen.

A woman wearing a traditional Turkish headscarf is sitting in her florist's shop  surrounded by flowers and ribbons, in Germany. Still taken from RTD's documentary series The Gulen Mystery.
Gulen's followers courted Turkish business people living in Germany. Small business owners were asked to fund the Gulen Hizmet network's good works.

How did an attempt to build an enlightened Islam, suited to the modern world, become a struggle for power that changed the rules of Turkish politics? Who is the real Fethullah Gulen: preacher or politician, saint or terrorist? Tune in for RTD’s in-depth investigation of the decades-long build up to Turkey’s failed military coup attempt of July 2016.

The Bosphorus in Istanbul, Turkey. In the foreground are the grey-blue domes and minaret of a mosque, then a ship next to the bank, with a bridge, the water and opposite bank of the straits in the background. Still taken from RTD's documentary series The Gulen Mystery.
Although Fethullah Gulen sought to exert influence internationally, the fate of his network is tightly bound with Turkish politics.