The anatomy of the Menzil Order

The anatomy of the Menzil Order
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With the death of the leader of the Menzil Order, the organization has been thrust into the spotlight. With a reach that extends beyond Turkey's borders, Menzil has steadily increased its influence within the bureaucracy since 2016.

By Osman Cakli

The death of Sayyid Abdulbaki Huseyni, also known as Abdulbaki Erol, the longtime leader of the Menzil community since 1993, has sparked public interest in the Menzil order. Thousands of people flocked to the Menzil village in the Kahta district of Adıyaman to pay their respects at the funeral. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan offered his condolences on Erol's death.

THE MENZIL'S PUBLIC INFLUENCE

Originally from Siirt, the Erol family bought a village in Adıyaman's Kahta district in 1971 and settled there. The village, initially named Durak, was later renamed Menzil, which later became community's name. Despite being called a village, Menzil boasts modern residential complexes. Muhammed Raşit Erol, the son of Abdulhakim Erol (1902-1972), is recognized as the founder of Menzil.

Following the 2016 coup attempt orchestrated by the Gulen movement, the government launched operations to purge Gulen sympathizers from the public sector. This created a void that the Menzil order gradually began to fill. Numerous books have detailed the extensive expansionist policies of the Menzil community, which spanned both public and private sectors, from the Turkish Armed Forces and security forces to various ministries and commercial sectors.

After 2016, the activities of Menzilists attracted attention and led to allegations of infiltration within the military, as reported in numerous newspapers and books. Discussions about Menzilists surfaced in connection with appointments within the police force, accompanied by leaked images of uniformed law enforcement officers participating in conversations with the Menzil order.

'TANER YILDIZ AND RECEP AKDAG GREW UP UNDER OUR ROOF'

A few years ago, journalist Saygı Ozturk interviewed Saki Erol, the son of the Menzil leader, about Menzil's influence in the Ministry of Health. The answer he received was quite fascinating: "Former Energy Minister Taner Yildiz and former Health Minister Recep Akdag grew up in our house. They used to visit us every week. Now they don't even say hello."

MENZIL IN CONFIDENTIAL REPORT: "POTENTIAL MEDIUM- AND LONG-TERM PROBLEMS'

In the wake of the July 15 coup attempt, a confidential report on clandestine religious groups, reportedly commissioned by the Presidency of Religious Affairs, emphasized that "the Menzil group is perceived as one of the most influential groups among similar organizations in our country. There are indications that the Menzil Group has infiltrated the bureaucracy and increased its influence within the public sector. If true, this development could pose medium- and long-term problems for our country."

MENZIL'S SPHERE OF INFLUENCE AND POLITICAL CONNECTIONS

The activities of the Menzil Order, an offshoot of Naqshbandism, extend beyond Turkey's borders. The report reveals its organized presence in religious institutions known as tekkes in Europe. The order also has an active presence in Africa.

The order has also been involved in political affairs. Like several other sects, the Menzil Order publicly declared its support for the AKP in the May 14 presidential and parliamentary elections. The Brotherhood has close ties to conservative and nationalist parties.

MENZIL'S ECONOMIC ACTIVITIES

In the economic sphere, the Menzil Order has holdings. The confidential report prepared by the Presidency of Religious Affairs outlines the commercial activities of the Menzil community. It emphasizes that "the Menzil community operates under the umbrella of the Semerkand Publishing Group, which includes Semerkand TV, Radio 15, Semerkand Publishing House, Hacegân Publishing House, Semerkand Magazine, Semerkand Children's Magazine, Semerkand Family Magazine, and Genc Okur Magazine".

Although the extent of Menzil's financial control remains uncertain, its commercial reach goes beyond what is reflected in the Directorate of Religious Affairs report. Dozens of student dormitories and the Emsey Hospital in Pendik, Istanbul, are believed to be linked to foundations and associations established by Menzilists. The Association of All Industrialists and Businessmen (TUMSIAD), the Samarkand Foundation, the Besir Association, and the Youth Education and Culture Association (GENCKON) are among the organizations affiliated with the Menzil order.