Cleric Accused Of Plotting Turkish Coup Attempt: ‘I Have Stood Against All Coups’

Fethullah Gulen’s interview with NPR

On July 15 last year, in an attempted coup, a faction of the Turkish military bombed government buildings, blocked roads and bridges and attempted to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The coup attempt was quelled by the next day — but Turkey has been feeling the repercussions ever since.

The government has engaged in sweeping purges, arresting tens of thousands and firing more than 100,000 people from their jobs, including civil servants, university professors and soldiers.

But the primary target of Erdogan’s wrath is Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic scholar in his late 70s living in exile in the United States. Erdogan blames Gulen for masterminding the failed coup attempt. The government has declared Gulen’s movement a terrorist organization.

Gulen, who is said to have millions of supporters in Turkey, has steadfastly denied any responsibility for the coup — but Turkey is demanding his extradition from the U.S., where he has lived since the late 1990s.

“To this day, I have stood against all coups,” Gulen told NPR’s Robert Siegel, who traveled Monday to the cleric’s compound in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, in the Pocono Mountains. “My respect for the military aside, I have always been against interventions. …If any one among those soldiers had called me and told me of their plan, I would tell them, ‘You are committing murder.’ ”

Gulen, who rarely speaks with the press, expressed concern for Turkey’s future, but has “some hope,” he said.

“If they ask me what my final wish is,” he added, “I would say the person who caused all this suffering and oppressed thousands of innocents, I want to spit in his face.”

When asked if he was referring to Erdogan, he replied: “It can’t be anyone else. He is the oppressor.”

NPR has sought comment from the Turkish embassy, which declined to issue a written response to Gulen’s remarks.

INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS
On Erdogan’s claim that he orchestrated last year’s failed coup attempt

To this day, I have stood against all coups. I suffered during the military intervention of May 27, 1960, and then again on March 12, 1971 and again on September 12, 1980, and I was targeted February 28, 1997. My respect for the military aside, I have always been against interventions. I don’t know the people who attempted the July 15 coup. They might know me, they may have attended some lectures — I have no idea. Thousands of people have come here to the retreat to visit, among them 50 members of parliament, former President Abdullah Gul, former Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. …For this reason, many people might know me, but I don’t know them. …

One other thing is I live here, thousands of miles away from Turkey. Some soldiers decided to do the coup, and despite the many questions and suspicions that remain of the government account of what transpired that night, if such claims are still taken to be credible, I shudder in astonishment. But if I were to humor that idea, if any one among those soldiers had called me and told me of their plan, I would tell them, “You are committing murder.”

On Turkey’s extradition request

I think the United States is mindful of its reputation for its democracy and rule of law, and if they are willing to risk that reputation by extraditing me based on the request and claims made by Turkey, I would never say no. I would go willingly.

I am living my final years, even if they decide to kill me or poison me or bring back the death sentence to hang me. When I was a young imam back in the day, I was present at the execution of two men, and I asked them about their final wish. If they ask me what my final wish is, I would say the person who caused all this suffering and oppressed thousands of innocents, I want to spit in his face.

On allegations that his organization is secretive

The perception that I control all of this… that I tell people to do things and that they are doing them… there is no such thing. As I have said to one lawmaker, if there is any suspicion of secrecy, they should conduct deep investigations and expose it. I am not clear on what it is that is so secret, but they should send their law enforcement and intelligence services to uncover it. I firmly support that.

On why his organization is based in the Pocono Mountains in rural Pennsylvania

Before I moved here, I always lived in Turkey and was subject to many difficult situations and targeted in the numerous military coups that happened over the years. … I never really wanted to leave Turkey, but I had some heart problems and a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic insisted that I come here and get treatment. So I traveled here and while I was in the hospital, a prosecutor in Turkey opened a case against me, so I was advised to remain here until things calmed down, but they never quite did.

I don’t want to be perceived as pretentious to Americans for speaking to an American outlet and for what I’m about to say, but I have always carried an admiration for the United States for its democracy and its leadership of the world. I had freedom here and for that, I decided to stay here. And a few years later, I received my permanent residency, and as such I am still here and I think it was a wise decision.

I haven’t ventured out of the retreat much, only to come and go to the hospital, as I prefer tranquility.

On what he foresees for his movement’s future

[Erdogan] thinks that if he can eliminate me, everyone else in this movement will dissolve. … Erdogan thinks if he gets rid of me, he thinks ending me will end the movement. He couldn’t be more wrong. We are mortals, we will die one day. But this is a movement of love and dedication to humanity and God willing, the people who use their rationality and free will shall continue doing their great work.

On his hopes for Turkey’s future

I am neither a sociologist nor a psychologist, but you don’t have to be one to see that Turkey is in a vortex of problems, isolated from the world. Diplomacy has been replaced by profits and benefits. …

The whole world has borne witness to this. From this perspective, I don’t see a bright future for Turkey. It pains me, but I have some hope, I pray for it to be better. It is a blessed country, a NATO member, and was an E.U. candidate. These were things we wanted — to see progress in the democracy, to see respect for diversity of thought. …

Turkey is a diverse country …I think that democracy is the ideal system for a country with a social foundation such as this. My view is based on my belief that everyone should be able to comfortably live what they believe, and this is only possible in a truly democratic environment. I am insistent in my views and I strongly believe in what I say.

In addition, I have previously expressed to others that the Turkish constitution should be modeled on the American constitution. America is a non-homogenous society of more than 300 million governed under such a constitution. It would be very effective for Turkey.

Source: http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2017/07/11/536011222/cleric-accused-of-plotting-turkish-coup-attempt-i-have-stood-against-all-coups
Source: Rumi Forum

Accused Turkish Cleric Assails President on Anniversary of Coup Attempt

Fethullah Gulen, in interview with the Wall Street Journal speaks out against Recep Tayyip Erdogan

By Alan Cullison
July 14, 2017 4:24 p.m. ET

SAYLORSBURG, Pa.—The reclusive cleric who was accused by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of planning a coup attempt one year ago from his gated U.S. compound urged in a rare interview that the West stand up to what he called Turkey’s increasingly authoritarian leader.

In an ornate conference room in his home in the Pocono Mountains, the cleric Fethullah Gulen repeated his declaration that he has never been involved in any coup-plotting. He decried Mr. Erdogan for launching a purge within Turkey, the brunt of which has fallen on his followers.

Fethullah Gulen, shown on Wednesday in Saylorsburg, Pa., criticized Turkey’s president for his crackdown following a failed coup one year ago. Photo: Sasha Maslov for The Wall Street Journal

“I never thought that he could go so bad,” said Mr. Gulen, who said that the Turkish president was unleashing mass hysteria inside the country. “Some parts of Turkish society have lost their ability to think.”

Since last July, Turkey has arrested or driven from their jobs tens of thousands of people Turkish authorities accuse of supporting Mr. Gulen. The government has closed hospitals and schools affiliated with his social movement, Hizmet, which translates roughly as “service.”

The Turkish government said it has seized up to $4 billion in property previously owned by businessmen or foundations alleged to be linked to the movement.

“Nothing like this has been seen before in Turkey,” Mr. Gulen said. “It can only be compared with Lenin and Stalin or Saddam in Iraq.”

Turkey is now investigating 160,000 people, and 50,000 have been arrested, with 48,000 of them released, according to Turkey’s ambassador to the U.S., Serdar Kilic. There are outstanding arrest warrants for about 8,000 people, he said.

In a news conference held Friday to commemorate the first anniversary of the coup attempt, Mr. Kilic supported the country’s extended state of emergency, saying Mr. Gulen’s followers have spent decades in the ranks of government and it would take time to remove them.

Mr. Kilic continued to blame Mr. Gulen for organizing last July’s failed plot, and pressed Turkey’s demand for extradition.

TOP: A soldier accused of attempting to assassinate Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on the night of the failed July 15, 2016 coup is carried to a Turkish courthouse. BELOW: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a ceremony marking the failed coup, in Ankara on Thursday. Photo: kenan gurbuz/Reuters (TOP) ; Adem Altan/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images (ABOVE)

He said he saw “more willingness” on the part of the Trump administration to entertain the extradition request, but that the process is “not moving as fast” as Turkey would like.

Wyn Hornbuckle, a Justice Department spokesman, declined to comment Friday, saying the Justice Department doesn’t speak publicly about extradition requests.

“I believe that there are certain measures that the U.S. authorities can take,” Mr. Kilic said, “including limitations on his activities in the United States. He’s still freely giving interviews to newspapers. This is not freedom of expression, he’s accusing the Turkish government, he’s sending messages to his supporters in Turkey and he is still traveling.”

Mr. Gulen said that his movement is also coming under pressure outside of Turkey as Ankara tries to persuade countries to shut down his movement’s schools in other countries. Many governments have refused, his aides said, but others have been currying favor with Ankara by shutting down schools and transferring property to the Turkish government.

Mr. Gulen described what he called rising chauvinism and racism in Turkey—as well as Europe and the U.S.—but said traditional institutions weren’t addressing them head on. “NATO has a potential, the European Parliament has a potential,” he said. “But in their current state they don’t seem to be addressing these problems right now.”

On July 15, 2016, mutinous elements of the Turkish military took to the streets, tanks opened fire on civilians and jet fighters bombed parliament as part of the unsuccessful coup attempt, during which commandos also made a botched effort to catch or kill the Turkish president. More than 240 people died in the violence.

The Turkish government alleges that Mr. Gulen’s followers in his homeland have been plotting for years to take over the state through powerful positions in the military and judiciary and across the civil service. Authorities in Ankara liken him to a cult leader.

Mr. Gulen, who has been a resident of the U.S. since 1999, said he supports a modern and moderate version of Islam that supports democracy, science and tolerance.

His presence in the U.S. was an early quandary for President Donald Trump, who sought closer relations with Turkey and whose former national security adviser, Mike Flynn, had performed lobbying work on behalf of the Turkish government.

Aides to Mr. Gulen said they think any extradition to Turkey is less likely after the resignation of Mr. Flynn, who had failed to disclose the extent of his contacts with foreign officials.

In the interview, Mr. Gulen said that the Turkish president’s authoritarian streak was on display during his visit to Washington earlier this year, when Mr. Erdogan’s personal bodyguards attacked protesters outside the Turkish Embassy. Federal prosecutors in the U.S. later filed charges against at least 10 members of the detail.

“They are not like guards, they are like assassins who are so devoted to their leader that they will not refrain from shooting people,” he said.

The Turkish Embassy said at the time that the Erdogan supporters were responding in self-defense to terrorist sympathizers.

Mr. Gulen—a powerful orator known as the Hocaefendi, or respected teacher, by his followers—has written numerous books and delivered emotional video speeches.

His group, formed at a time when Turks feared religious persecution by a secular government, has often been cagey about its membership, contributing to allegations that he in fact was running a secret cult.

Graham Fuller, former vice chairman of the U.S. National Intelligence Council who has defended Mr. Gulen’s movement as a positive force for moderate Islam in today’s world, said the allegation is no longer deserved. “Over the last decade or more it has had a very public face,” he said.

In Turkey, Gulenists have spread throughout state institutions such as the courts and the military “to ensure these institutions would not be used against them again,” said Mr. Fuller, who in 2006 wrote a letter to the FBI defending Mr. Gulen against attempts to extradite him.

Mr. Gulen in Saylorsburg on Wednesday. Photo: Sasha Maslov for The Wall Street Journal

—Felicia Schwartz contributed to this article.

Write to Alan Cullison at alan.cullison@wsj.com

Appeared in the July 15, 2017, print edition as ‘Turkish Cleric Assails President.’
Source: Rumi Forum

Gulen admits meeting key figure in Turkey coup plot, dismisses Erdogan’s ‘senseless’ claims

Fethullah Gulen’s interview with France 24 on the anniversary of the failed Turkish coup attempt.

Latest update: 2017-07-19

Video by Philip CROWTHER, Leela JACINTO

Text by Leela JACINTO

In an exclusive interview with FRANCE 24, Fethullah Gulen admitted meeting a key figure in Turkey’s July 2016 attempted coup. But the Turkish cleric said that a mere visit from one of his followers isn’t proof he orchestrated the failed coup.
Turkey’s most-wanted man shuffles into a spacious room that doubles as a prayer space in his rural Pennsylvania home-in-exile. The reclusive, 76-year-old Turkish cleric is ailing and notoriously averse to press coverage.
But ever since the Turkish government accused him of masterminding the failed July 15, 2016 coup bid, Gulen has been forced to grant a few interviews, to which he succumbs with gruff resignation.
Gulen has been living in a gated compound, called the “Golden Generation Retreat and Worship Center,” in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains since 1999, when he arrived in the US for medical treatment. Turkey has expressed dismay over what it views as a US failure to advance its demand for Gulen’s extradition.
But from his sprawling, verdant compound in Saylorsburg, located around 160 kilometres from Philadelphia, Gulen appeared fairly confident he will live out his days in the USA.
When asked if he fears the warming personal relations between US President Donald Trump and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, could mean a fast-tracked extradition, Gulen replied, “I don’t think either him [Trump] or any other US president will risk tarnishing the reputation of the United States around the world and submit to these unreasonable demands by the Turkish president. So I’m not worried about that possibility.”
The septuagenarian cleric may be living 8,000 kilometres away from Turkey, but he was well-informed about the latest developments in his homeland.
A year after the ill-planned and executed attempt to oust Erdogan’s government, the focus of the investigation in Turkey appears to hinge on one mysterious, missing man: Adil Oksuz. The Turkish government says Oksuz, a cleric, is a Gulenist who instigated the coup bid. On the night of the coup attempt he was spotted near an Ankara military base, briefly detained, and then released. He has since gone missing. The government claims that before the July 2016 coup attempt, Oksuz travelled to the US, where he visited Gulen. Photographs of Oksuz and his child with Gulen in Pennsylvania have appeared in the Turkish press as proof of Gulen’s personal involvement in the putsch bid.
Gulen acknowledged that around 30 years ago, when Oksuz was a student, he was part of a study circle within the movement. “Adil Oksuz, at one time, I think when he was studying at school, he became part of our study circle,” he replied.
But while he acknowledged the Turkish government’s account that Oksuz had visited the Golden Generation Retreat and Recreation Center before the July 2016 coup bid, Gulen dismissed allegations that the visit constituted the smoking gun in the coup investigation. “A few years ago, he [Oksuz] came here once. I later saw in the media this picture with his child with me. This is something hundreds of people do. From taking a picture to making that kind of connection would be jumping to conclusions.”
‘There are photos of me with everyone’
Gulen went on to list a number of senior members of Erdogan’s AK Party who had visited him in Pennsylvania before the July 2016 coup bid. The Gulenists and the AK Party were allies before a 2013 falling out, after the Gulenists in the judiciary and civil services began unravelling corruption allegations against Erdogan’s inner circle.
He claimed the roster of visitors to Pennsylvania, back in the days when the Gulenists and the AK Party were allies, included former Turkish president, Abdullah Gul, and Hakan Fidan, current head of Turkey’s foreign spy agency, MIT (National Intelligence Organisation). The Turkish cleric proceeded to repeat allegations, circulating in some opposition circles, that Oksuz was linked to the Turkish intelligence services.
“Indeed former president Abdullah Gul visited me – before he became president or prime minister or something,” said Gulen. “When you consider Adil Oksuz, they found him somewhere, I don’t remember where it was, and then they released him, and then there turned out be a tie between him and Turkish intelligence. The chief of the intelligence service, Hakan Fidan, also visited here twice and he ate at my nephew’s house here twice. Everyone came here. There are photos of me with everyone. So, to make claims based on visiting me and taking pictures with me is just senseless.”
Oksuz’s alleged links to Turkish intelligence services have not been officially confirmed, and probably never will. The government says he was arrested at Akincilar military base in the early hours of July 16, 2016 and later appeared before a judge, who released Oksuz since the prosecution failed to supply incriminating evidence in the confused, immediate aftermath of the coup. Faced with no evidence, the judge ordered his release. Oksuz has since disappeared without a trace and Turkish security services are seeking the released Gulenist, the government says.

‘This movement…will continue’
A year after the failed coup, Turkey is still under a state of emergency that has seen a massive crackdown on opposition supporters, journalists and human rights defenders. More than 150,000 judges, civil servants and employees at state-run institutions have been fired for their alleged links to the proscribed PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) or FETO (Fethullah Gulen Terrorist Organisation) – a term employed by the government for the Gulenist movement – or Hizmet, as followers of the Turkish cleric call their movement.
Among the victims of the purge, the Gulenists appear the hardest hit inside Turkey. On the international front, foreign governments have come under pressure from Turkish authorities to shut down the movement’s schools across the world.
Despite the crackdown, Gulen was adamant that his movement’s days were not over. “In 170 countries, our movement’s schools are still operating, including in the US, Brussels, Europe,” he said. “So I think this is a sign that this movement, whose core value is love, will continue. The politicians, their time is limited. They will go by democratic means. But this movement, which is anchored in love, will continue.”

Watch interview here: https://youtu.be/XEhsX2mCDD8
Source: http://www.france24.com/en/20170718-gulen-admits-meeting-key-man-turkey-coup-plot-dismisses-erdogan-senseless-claims
Source: Rumi Forum

Fethullah Gülen on Political Islam

Fethullah Gülen on Political Islam excerpt from Muslim World Journal

Q: In a time when political Islam has become very popular, what are your thoughts on the relationship between Islam and politics?

Fethullah Gülen: In my opinion, people have either gone too far or not far enough with regards to understanding the relationship between Islam and politics.  Some have said that the religion of Islam has no relationship with politics; others have perceived the religion as politics itself, ignoring the varied and rich aspects of religion. In the Holy Qur’an, there are verses concerning administration and politics.  The Prophet’s practices also occupy an important place in this regard.  For example, the Qur’anic terms “ulu al-amr” (those who rule), “ita’at” (obedience to the rulers), “shura” (consultation), “harb” (war), and “sulh” (peace), are all examples of some Qur’anic references with regard to political and legal decisions.  In addition, there are Qur’anic verses related to legal institutions and also some which point to politics and governing.

However, in Islam it is not possible to limit the concept of governance and politics into a single paradigm, unlike the principles of faith and the pillars of Islam. History shows us that in the Islamic world, since the time of the Prophet, there have been many types of states. This is so even if we exclude the elections in the early period of Islam and the qualities that were exhibited in those elections. Even if one cannot see some major methodological differences among these types of governance, there are many differences in the details. Those who are not aware of the principles of these different methods of governing have understood each of them as a separate system. I have to note that these differences were the result of the aspects of religion which are open to interpretation and related to the field of independent reasoning (Ijtihad).

In order to reach a healthy understanding and come to positive conclusions, one should refer to the main sources of Islam: the Qur’an and the Sunnah. There is no doubt that historical experiences are also an important source.

In the Qur’an, besides verses related to human relationships with God, there are many other verses regulating the relationships of human beings with one another.  The source of both kinds of verses is one, Allah. The verses that remind us about our duties and responsibilities to the divine essence have been preserved in its originality based on the understanding of the Prophet and his companions. The Qur’anic verses and prophetic sayings related to the second category focus on the principles of humans’ social, economic, political, and cultural life. At the same time, they hint at some wisdom, betterment, and benefits through their brief ending statements at the end of many verses. For instance, the verses on justice, respect for rights, truthfulness, being compassionate and merciful, carrying out actions based on consultation, living a chaste life, and not deceiving anyone are considered examples of this category.

These kind of verses that are directed to human relationships, if read thoroughly and correctly, will give some hints for Muslims about how to solve their future problems. Interpreters and the Mujtahids (those who are able to perform independent reasoning), to a certain extent, take this category as a reference for their interpretations and analyses.

There are many topics in the Qur’an and in the sayings of the Prophet whose relevance to human experiences continues to come to light as time passes. The details of such issues have been entrusted to the passing of time. The divine commands and prophetic suggestions about politics, the state, and ruling the community have been interpreted in diverse ways, resulting in different manifestations and various forms throughout history. You can relate this aspect of religion, if you wish, according to the concept that time is a great interpreter, or as an indication of the universalism of Islam which is also known as the natural and tolerant religion (al-hanifiyyah-al-samha). Yes, among the addressees of the Qur’an there were various groups of people: from Bedouins to civilized people, undeveloped communities to very developed nations, and simple masses to wonderfully organized and enlightened societies. The Qur’an has addressed all these groups considering their own understandings, approaches, views, evaluations, and even lives.

In the case of human relationship to the divine Being, it has given brief explanations leaving the details for the coming generations. In the case of human to human interactions, it has detailed and explained the specifics of some well established principles.

In this regard, there has been a consensus of understanding on this first case with the exception of some heretical groups’ interpretations of the Islamic tradition. As for the second case, there have been many varying interpretations in accordance with the conditions, time, and the situations existing in the world. Naturally, these differences have been reflected in the judicial and administrative institutions.

It would not be a correct understanding of Islam to claim that politics is a vital principle of religion and among its well established pillars. While some Qur’anic verses are related to politics, the structure of the state, and the forms of ruling, people who have connected the import of the Qur’anic message with such issues may have caused a misunderstanding. This misunderstanding is the result of their Islamic zeal, their limitations of their consideration solely of historical experiences, and their thinking that the problems of Islamic communities can be solved more easily through politics and ruling. All of these approaches within their own contexts are meaningful. However, the truth does not lie in these approaches alone.

Although one cannot ignore the effects of ruling and administration in regulating communal relationships between individuals, families and societies, yet these, within the framework of Qur’anic values, are considered secondary issues. That is because the values that we call major principles (ummuhat), such as faith (iman), submission (islam), doing what is beautiful (ihsan), and the acceptance of divine morals by the community, are references that form the essence of administrative, economic, and political issues. The Qur’an is a translation of the book of the universe, which comes from the divine commands of creation, an interpretation of the world of the unseen, of the visible and invisible. It is an explanation of the reflections of the divine names on earth and in the heavens. It is a prescription for the various problems of the Islamic world. It is a unique guide for bliss in this life and in the life to come. It is a great guide for the travelers in this world moving towards the hereafter. It is an inexhaustible source of wisdom. Such a book should not be reduced to the level of political discourse, nor should it be considered a book about political theories or forms of state. To consider the Qu’ran as an instrument of political discourse is a great disrespect for the Holy Book and is an obstacle that prevents people from benefiting from this deep source of divine grace.

There is no doubt that the holy Qur’an, through its enrichment of the human soul, is able to inspire wise politicians and through them to prevent politics from being like gambling or a merely a game of chess.

Source:
This article is taken from “An interview with Fethullah Gülen for the Muslim World Journal” The Muslim World Journal, Volume 95 – Number 3- July 2005. page 453-456
Source: Rumi Forum

Muslims’ unique responsibility to fight terror

By Fethullah Gulen June 11 at 5:36 AM CET on Politico Europe
Updated 6/12/17, 12:39 PM CET

SAYLORSBURG, Pennsylvania — The brutal, deadly attacks in London and Manchester on innocent civilians are the latest in a series of senseless violent acts carried out by the so-called Islamic State, a group that deserves no designation other than the world’s most inhuman criminal network.

In response to this threat, the world’s Muslims can and should help intelligence and security communities ward off future attacks and eliminate the lifelines of this menace.

From its founding amid the ashes of Al Qaeda in Iraq, ISIS has dealt in deception as well as death. Despite its name, ISIS represents a perversion of Islam. The group’s dress, flags and slogans cannot hide their abhorrent betrayal of the spirit of this major world faith.

Denying this barbaric group a geographical base that emboldens them to claim statehood — an essential element of their propaganda to potential recruits — is a worthwhile goal that all Muslims should support. But the challenge isn’t only military.

ISIS, and other groups like it, recruits alienated Muslim youth by offering them a false sense of purpose and belonging in the service of a totalitarian ideology.

Countering that appeal will include religious, political, psycho-social and economic efforts. It will require that local communities and government institutions address structural issues such as discrimination and exclusion.

“Self-examination is an Islamic ethic. There are actions we can take, as Muslim parents, teachers, community leaders and imams, to help our youth protect themselves.”

International organizations must protect citizens against violent persecution of the kind we witnessed in Syria and assist with transitions to democratic governance. Western governments, too, have a responsibility to adopt a more ethical and consistent foreign policy.

Muslim citizens and organizations can and should be part of these broader efforts, but we also have a unique role and responsibility in this fight.

Across the world, Muslims need to strengthen the immune system of our communities, especially our youth, against violent extremism. We must ask: How did our communities become grounds for terrorist recruitment? Yes, external factors must be addressed, but we must also look within.

Self-examination is an Islamic ethic. There are actions we can take, as Muslim parents, teachers, community leaders and imams, to help our youth protect themselves. We must defeat these murderous extremists in the battlefield of ideas.

A common fallacy of violent extremist ideologues is to decontextualize the teachings of the Quran and the Prophet (peace be upon him) and misinterpret them to serve their pre-determined goals. These ideologues turn snapshots from his or his companions’ lives into instruments to justify a criminal act.

The antidote is a religious education program that teaches the tradition in a holistic and contextualized way. To be able to resist the deceits of radical ideologues, young Muslims must understand the spirit of their scripture and the overarching principles of their Prophet’s life. We need to teach our youth the full story of how the Prophet moved his society from savagery into ethical norms shared by Abrahamic faiths.

A holistic religious education should start with a commitment to the dignity of every person as a unique creation of God, regardless of faith. When God says “We have honored the children of Adam” (Quran, 17:70), all humanity is honored. The Quran describes taking the life of even one innocent person as a crime against all humanity (Quran, 5:32). Even in a legitimate defensive war, the Prophet’s teachings specifically prohibit violence against any noncombatants, especially women, children and clergy. The belief that one can enter paradise by killing others is a delusion.

Violent extremists also commit another major fallacy: transplanting into the 21st century religious verdicts from the Middle Ages, in which political rivalries were often confused with religious differences. Today, Muslims have the freedom to practice their religion in democratic, secular countries.

The values of participatory governments align with core Muslim ideals of social justice, the rule of law, collective decision-making and equality. Muslims can and do live as contributing citizens of democracies around the world.

Proactively, we must develop positive ways to satisfy the social needs of our youth. Youth groups should be encouraged to volunteer in humanitarian relief projects to help victims of disasters and violent conflicts. In teaching them to help others, we will give them the tools to empower themselves and feel that they are part of something meaningful. We also have a duty to help the youth engage in dialogue with members of other faiths to help nurture mutual understanding and respect. As Muslims, we are not just members of a faith community, but of the human family.

“Being part of the worldwide effort to help stop violent religious radicals from repeating the London and Manchester cruelties elsewhere is both a human and religious responsibility.”

Since the 1970s, the participants in the social movement Hizmet — the Turkish word for service — have founded more than 1,000 modern secular schools, free tutoring centers, colleges, hospitals and humanitarian relief organizations in more than 150 countries. By facilitating the involvement of young students and professionals as service providers, mentors, tutors and helpers, these institutions and their social networks foster a sense of identity, belonging, meaning and empowerment that constitute an antidote to the false promises of violent extremists.

Indeed, the best way to proactively protect our youth is to provide them with a positive counter-narrative. By offering opportunities for language learning and cultural exchanges, these kinds of institutions nurture a pluralistic outlook, critical thinking and empathy.

As part of their daily rituals, practicing Muslims pray for God to keep them “on the straight path.” Today, the straight path means examining our understanding of the core values of our faith, how we embody those values in our daily lives and strengthening our youth’s resistance to influences that contradict those values.

Being part of the worldwide effort to help stop violent religious radicals from repeating the London and Manchester cruelties elsewhere is both a human and religious responsibility.

Fethullah Gülen is an Islamic scholar, preacher and social advocate.

Source: http://www.politico.eu/article/muslims-unique-responsibility-in-fighting-terror-london-attack-fethullah-gulen/
Source: Rumi Forum

Fethullah Gulen: The Turkey I no longer know

By Fethullah Gulen May 15 at 7:41 PM on The Washington Post

Fethullah Gulen is an Islamic scholar, preacher and social advocate.

SAYLORSBURG, Pa.

As the presidents of the United States and Turkey meet at the White House on Tuesday, the leader of the country I have called home for almost two decades comes face to face with the leader of my homeland. The two countries have a lot at stake, including the fight against the Islamic State, the future of Syria and the refugee crisis.

But the Turkey that I once knew as a hope-inspiring country on its way to consolidating its democracy and a moderate form of secularism has become the dominion of a president who is doing everything he can to amass power and subjugate dissent.
The West must help Turkey return to a democratic path. Tuesday’s meeting, and the NATO summit next week, should be used as an opportunity to advance this effort.

Since July 15, following a deplorable coup attempt, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has systematically persecuted innocent people — arresting, detaining, firing and otherwise ruining the lives of more than 300,000 Turkish citizens, be they Kurds, Alevis, secularists, leftists, journalists, academics or participants of Hizmet, the peaceful humanitarian movement with which I am associated.

As the coup attempt unfolded, I fiercely denounced it and denied any involvement. Furthermore, I said that anyone who participated in the putsch betrayed my ideals. Nevertheless, and without evidence, Erdogan immediately accused me of orchestrating it from 5,000 miles away.

The next day, the government produced lists of thousands of individuals whom they tied to Hizmet — for opening a bank account, teaching at a school or reporting for a newspaper — and treated such an affiliation as a crime and began destroying their lives. The lists included people who had been dead for months and people who had been serving at NATO’s European headquarters at the time. International watchdogs have reported numerous abductions, in addition to torture and deaths in detention. The government pursued innocent people outside Turkey, pressuring Malaysia, for instance, to deport three Hizmet sympathizers last week, including a school principal who has lived there for more than a decade, to face certain imprisonment and likely torture.

In April, the president won a narrow referendum victory — amid allegations of serious fraud — to form an “executive presidency” without checks and balances, enabling him to control all three branches of the government. To be sure, through purges and corruption, much of this power was already in his hands. I fear for the Turkish people as they enter this new stage of authoritarianism.

It didn’t start this way. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) came into power in 2002 by promising democratic reforms in pursuit of European Union membership. But as time went on, Erdogan became increasingly intolerant of dissent. He facilitated the transfer of many media outlets to his cronies through government regulatory agencies. In June of 2013, he crushed the Gezi Park protesters. In December of that year, when his cabinet members were implicated in a massive graft probe, he responded by subjugating the judiciary and the media. The “temporary” state of emergency declared after last July 15 is still in effect. According to Amnesty International, one-third of all imprisoned journalists in the world are in Turkish prisons.

Erdogan’s persecution of his people is not simply a domestic matter. The ongoing pursuit of civil society, journalists, academics and Kurds in Turkey is threatening the long-term stability of the country. The Turkish population already is strongly polarized on the AKP regime. A Turkey under a dictatorial regime, providing haven to violent radicals and pushing its Kurdish citizens into desperation, would be a nightmare for Middle East security.

The people of Turkey need the support of their European allies and the United States to restore their democracy. Turkey initiated true multiparty elections in 1950 to join NATO. As a requirement of its membership, NATO can and should demand that Turkey honor its commitment to the alliance’s democratic norms.

Two measures are critical to reversing the democratic regression in Turkey.

First, a new civilian constitution should be drafted through a democratic process involving the input of all segments of society and that is on par with international legal and humanitarian norms, and drawing lessons from the success of long-term democracies in the West.

Second, a school curriculum that emphasizes democratic and pluralistic values and encourages critical thinking must be developed. Every student must learn the importance of balancing state powers with individual rights, the separation of powers, judicial independence and press freedom, and the dangers of extreme nationalism, politicization of religion and veneration of the state or any leader.

Before either of those things can happen, however, the Turkish government must stop the repression of its people and redress the rights of individuals who have been wronged by Erdogan without due process.

I probably will not live to see Turkey become an exemplary democracy, but I pray that the downward authoritarian drift can be stopped before it is too late.

Source: https://t.co/3hQ8i79Wje
Source: Rumi Forum

Fethullah Gulen's Interview with Politico: ‘I don’t have any regrets’

By on 9/9/16 POLITICO

Fethullah Gülen, the Muslim cleric that the Turkish government blames for the recent attempted coup, has long been reclusive, rarely granting interviews. But in the wake of the accusations against him, he’s sought to clear his name.

 

Other op-eds and articles by Fethullah Gulen here

Gülen recently agreed to answer a handful of written questions from POLITICO. The exchange is here in full:

You insist your movement is peaceful, not political. But multiple sources tell me that Hizmet has a dark side — where individuals are carefully groomed to enter government and related professions with the intent of an ultimate takeover. Is this true? If not, is it possible that these sorts of activities are happening without your knowledge?
I have served as a preacher for nearly 30 years before coming to the U.S. and my friends continued to publish my talks after I settled here. There are over 70 books based on my articles and talks. It is natural that in Turkish government there are people who share some of my views just as there are those who don’t share them.
My teaching has always been to act within [the] law and in an ethical way. If anybody who follows my works acts illegally or unethically, or if they disobey the lawful orders of their superiors, that is a betrayal of my teachings and I fully support their being investigated and facing the consequences.
If there is no discrimination, government institutions reflect the colors and patterns of its society. We know that in Turkish government institutions there are people of various political and religious orientations, such as nationalists, neonationalists, Maoists, Kemalists, Alevis, leftists, sympathizers of Sufi orders and others. For decades, none of these groups could be transparent about their identities except the Kemalists because of political profiling and discrimination. And now, loyalty to Erdoğan is replacing loyalty to Ataturk as the criteria for acceptable identity.
It is the constitutional right of every Turkish citizen to serve in their government institutions if they are qualified to do so. To accuse anybody of having a nefarious goal without evidence is slander. If people are afraid to reveal their identity for fear of reprisals, it is the regime’s problem, not theirs.
As far as my discourse is concerned, I have never advocated for regime change in Turkey. To the contrary, 22 years ago, in 1994, I told publicly that there will be no return from democracy in Turkey or elsewhere in the world. This was both a prediction and a commitment to democracy. Publications who are allied with President Erdoğan now, criticized me severely then, nearly calling me an infidel. When the military was dominating the domestic politics during the late 1990s and early 2000s, I was charged in Turkish courts … but not a single piece of evidence could be brought to show that I supported any other regime but democracy.

What do you think the future holds for your movement in the wake of the attempted coup in Turkey and Turkish leaders’ demonization of your organization?
President Erdoğan appears determined to wipe all the institutions set up by Hizmet participants and prevent any future attempts to establish any new institutions. This is contrary to [the] Turkish constitution and all the international agreements Turkey is a party to. But unless world leaders take a stance with effective measures against this witch hunt, there is no internal dynamic in Turkey to stop the president.
Our friends have so far defended their rights through peaceful protests and in Turkish courts. Now even law offices are being raided and lawyers are being detained. People’s right to defend themselves in the court of law is taken away from them. [The] Erdoğan government is doing everything to push these people to violence. But so far they resisted and remained peaceful and I am confident that they will remain so. Some Hizmet participants have left the country to seek opportunities for investment or for professional work abroad.
This is a sad loss for Turkey but it is the only choice for some people. Private properties worth hundreds of millions of dollars have been confiscated. I hope and pray that this madness will not last for long.

If the U.S. government decides to extradite you to Turkey, will you agree to the decision?
The U.S. government has a long history of upholding the rule of law and respecting freedoms. Because of this, they have a respectable reputation around the world. I don’t consider it likely that they will abandon this tradition and undermine their reputation simply because President Erdoğan is so adamant about this issue. In the unlikely event that the extradition matter is decided on political grounds, I have already stated that they don’t need to force me out of the country, I will buy my own ticket and go on my own will without blinking an eye.

Source: http://www.politico.eu/article/fethullah-gulen-full-interview-politico-turkey-coup-erdogan/
Source: Rumi Forum

IFLC: Promoting Intercultural Dialogue

  • Turkish promote cultural exchanges
Luis Gonzalez
Nihao Mundo
Dominican Republic
In Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, there are institutions linked to “Hizmet” or “volunteer movement” better known as “Gulen Movement”, by the name of the person who inspired it, Fethullah Gulen, Turkey. It is an educational, intercultural and interfaith movement, transnational, with a presence in almost every country in the world.
These institutions in the Dominican Republic, are the “Horizon Foundation” and “Galaxy International School,” which unofficially represent Turkey. Mr. Tayfun Tuna that is at the forefront of these institutions, invited us to participate in one of the most significant activities in which institutions related to Gulen Movement are involved. I mean the “International Festival of Language & Culture” which began performing in 2003 with the purpose of bringing children around the world through poetry, folklore, song and dance, organizing a festival on behalf solidarity and cooperation.
In the beginning, the festival took place in Turkish local audiences, nationally, but quickly the great reception among the population and the resounding success in the country, resulted in global expansion.
The International Language and Culture Festival is a pioneer in the exaltation of cultural and linguistic exchange as an engine for creating cross-border ties of friendship.
Tolerance, respect, understanding and friendship are the values ​​pursued through this Festival, and its promotion and acquisition from an early age, using music, dance and poetry as channels to convey this message. This year, just produced the 14th edition of the festival entitled “Beautiful Colors of the World”, in Washington DC USA, on Thursday, April 28, at 630pm in the majestic Hall of the Constitution. In that we had the honor to participate and intoxicates observing both the rich cultural diversity of our world, as the extraordinary talent of young students from 26 countries who displayed their culture through poetry traditions, singing and dancing in a expression of friendship and hope for the future.
On Friday April 29, we participate in a version of the Festival, a little more solemn and formal, in the lounge (ECOSOC) Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (UN) in New York, where the message was reiterated by the same young players.
In addition to the same “Gulen Movement”, we could identify as organizers of these events to institutions such as the “Peace Islands Institute”, which has offices in the famous Fifth Avenue in New York.
An institution, also linked to the “Gulen Movement” which was our hostess, coordinator of the agenda exhausted in Washington, New York and New Jersey, was the “Nilufer Jamaica Foundation”, based in Kingston, whose Director, Eyup Ensar Ozturk, as all who have Dr. Fethullah Gulen, as a guide, is characterized by service to others.
We hope this message will continue to multiply on the planet and that we achieve world peace in diversity.Education and opportunity for cultural exchanges with young people is an excellent way, because I congratulate the organizers and promoters.

Source: Rumi Forum

Fethullah Gulen: The real conquest is not the winning of territory but the atmosphere of peace

Fethullah Gulen, the prominent Muslim cleric, has urged people of all faiths to come together to address global conflict at the first-ever US Muslim-Catholic Dialogue Conference in San Diego, CA, which seeks to promote interfaith dialogue and mutual respect worldwide.  

Gulen was not able to attend the US Muslim-Catholic Dialogue Conference due to his poor health. His speech was read by Zeki Saritoprak, professor of Islamic studies at John Carroll University.

Below is full text of Fethullah Gulen’s message:

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Dear Dr. Anthony Cirelli,

Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi,

Dr. Sayyid Syeed,

Dr. Khurshid Khan,

Dr. Moustafa al-Qazwini,

Most Rev. Robert McElroy,

Most Rev. Donald Hanchon,

Most Rev. Barry Knestout,

I thank you for your kind invitation to make the opening remarks for the American Muslim-Catholic Dialogue Conference held at the national level for the first time this year.

That exceptional leaders from the American Muslim and Catholic communities have formed such a dialogue venue is very meaningful for the advancement of peace and tranquility in our age. I congratulate every one who has contributed to this initiative.

My health condition unfortunately doesn’t allow me to be with you in person.

However, I would like for you all to know that this invitation is very meaningful and valuable to me.

Although it may seem that the series of unfortunate events humanity has endured in recent years validate those who predicted dark scenarios in the so-called clash of civilizations framework, I have personally always been hopeful for the future of humanity.

In the shared perspective expressed in the Holy Quran and the sources of divine religions grounded in revelation, humans by nature seek the good and the beautiful.

I thoroughly believe that humankind will be attracted to the atmosphere of mutual understanding and respect, and will embrace each other. Hope is an expression of trust in God’s grace. Desperation, on the other hand, is the primary obstacle before any progress and leaves individuals crippled, unable to tap into their potential.

The Earth has never been free of those who propagate fear, hate, and enmity for various motives. Today, unfortunately, we observe examples of these individuals and groups in both the East and the West. However, undeniably, humans are tired of wars, violent conflicts, bloodshed, atrocities, and they are thirsty for universal dialogue and peace. Our globalizing world presents a historically unprecedented ground for developing affinity, integration, and mutual acceptance.

Although hostilities and conflicts in history have essentially been driven by a clash of worldly interests, sometimes nationality, class, and religion have been used as means in order to rally the masses to a certain side. In reality however, the fundamental vision of all religions that have been embraced by a significant segment of humanity, in particular, religions based on revelation, are societies whose individuals attain internal tranquility, and a world of universal peace that such societies constitute.

In the Holy Quran, eeman (faith) and amal-i-saalih (righteous deeds) are always mentioned in tandem. Amal-i Salih is the name of deeds accepted by Allah. Sulh (peace) and salih (righteous) are two words from the same root; Salih means that which leads to Sulh (or peace), and is guided by the pursuit of peace. Therefore, Islam, a religion of unity, demands his adherents to be on the path to universal peace and tranquility.

It is clear that in an atmosphere of conflict, peace cannot be served by simply opposing and reacting to the agendas of others. In this regard, at a time where core values of human civilization are cherished at least as a vision, humans, who are civilized by nature of their creation, can solve their issues only through communication facilitated by dialogue venues.

The vast majority of the world’s population adheres to Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and Hinduism. In the 21st century, therefore, it is an inevitable conclusion that the universal peace will depend on the dialogue among the adherents of these religions and traditions. I have stated that initiatives for dialogue are long overdue on the occasion of our meeting with his Excellency the late Pope John Paul II in 1998.

14 centuries ago, the Holy Quran called for dialogue among Muslims, Jews, and Christians, the latter two it referred to as Ahl-Al Kitaab, or people of the book. However, in the intervening centuries periods of conflict outnumbered periods of peace due to the conditions of those times. Now, however, the following centuries should be defined by mutual respect, love, and coalescence.

By the use of the term “people of the book” the Quran is addressing not only Jews and Christians but also all individuals in contemporary society pursuing knowledge and enlightenment through reading and writing. As Bediuzzaman Said Nursi pointed out, it can be said that the people of learning and enlightenment are also invited to dialogue.

Again, the Holy Quran refers to the Hudaybiya peace treaty signed by the Muslims of Medina with the polytheist Meccans as a “conquest” as opposed to the surrender of Mecca two years later. The real conquest is not the winning of territory but the atmosphere of peace when weapons are set aside and people enter a period of peaceful co-existence and dialogue. With the Hudaybiya peace treaty, the doors to fighting were closed, and the doors to hearts were opened, and the grounds were laid for the breaking of false prejudices.

When the ideas that the Prophet Muhammad, may God’s peace and blessings be upon him, expressed in the treaty of Medina and in his farewell sermon are evaluated within their historic socio-political context, the type of civilization Islam enjoins for its adherents becomes clearer. We regard the idea of upholding the dignity of every human being, and accepting them in their respective positions as the pillars of this civilization.

The initiatives for dialogue among adherents of all world religious, especially between Muslims and Christians, taken with this consciousness are steps towards a common human civilization where peace and tranquility will reign.

If humanity’s adventure so far is any measure, it would be unrealistic to expect all conflicts on the Earth to cease anytime soon. However, it is also not wishful thinking to expect that relations among various communities around the world will become more humane, driven by access to information, the reliance on reason and the increased first-hand knowledge of each other facilitated by dialogue in our increasingly shrinking world. At the least, it is possible to localize problems and to impede their spread. The issue facing us is what we will do intentionally out of a feeling of responsibility in this context.

The ground of dialogue that you established in order for adherents of different religions to better understand each other is the reflection of the attitude of lighting a candle rather than cursing the darkness. However, this activity that you have persistently continued for 20 years is symbolically much beyond a candle and instead is praiseworthy as a lighthouse and beacon of hope.

Destruction is easy whereas construction and repair are difficult. At times, in the face of burning fires of war, atrocities, stirring of hostilities, and conflicts around the world, those working to serve peace through means such as dialogue may feel defeated and fall into pessimism. Amidst the waves of grave hostilities and conflicts humans face or partake in, one might question what our efforts may signify.

However, it should not be forgotten that there is a special value in setting a good example. Humans, who are naturally disposed to beauty, will sooner or later will take interest in these good examples, and eventually embrace them. One day they will say, “up until now we tried fighting and war, now let us give a chance to dialogue and mutual acceptance.”

There are many precedents in the history of humanity where small groups influence much larger groups with the help of the centrifugal force that they generate. In this regard, the steps taken in particular by widely respected leaders of religious thought, like your selves, are crucial.

Ever since humans have existed, the struggle between compassion, love and hope on the one hand, and fear, hate, and despair on the other has continued. Just as the essence of the messages of Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, upon whom all be God’s peace and blessings, are compassion, love, and hope, their life stories are also embodiments of those essences. Our world today is in equal, and maybe even greater, need for this message.

I congratulate again those who organized and participated in this conference as a collaboration of Muslims and Christians who are representatives of this message today and share their belief in the importance of dialogue.

I pray God the All-Compassionate to deliver humanity to those days where peace and tranquility reign in all continents of the Earth and human beings warmly embrace each other. And I ask God to accept this conference as an active prayer toward the same end.

Sincerely,

Fethullah Gulen
Source: Rumi Forum

MEDIA: French editor says Gülen’s messages on anti-terrorism revolutionary

A French editor-in-chief has praised the anti-terrorism messages in an article written by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen and published by a prestigious French daily last month, describing them as revolutionary and one of the “signs of hope” in 2015, which he said was marked by terror and fear.

Fethullah Gulen's op-ed in Le Monde

Jean-Pierre Denis, editor-in-chief of French weekly magazine La Vie, dedicated his editorial in the latest issue of the magazine to examining Gülen’s messages in an article he wrote for the French daily Le Monde on Dec. 17.

In the article, which was titled “Muslims, we have to critically review our understanding of Islam,” Gülen expresses his deep sadness and revulsion in the face of the attacks perpetrated by terrorist groups such as the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

“We Muslims have a special responsibility to not only join hands with fellow human beings to save our world from the scourge of terrorism and violent extremism, but also to help repair the tarnished image of our faith. … We must categorically condemn the ideology propagated by terrorists and instead promote a pluralistic mindset with clarity and confidence,” he wrote.

Paris was the scene of multiple attacks by ISIL in November, which claimed the lives of more than 120 people and which sent waves of horror across Europe.

In his article Denis said the piece written by Gülen in Le Monde is revolutionary. He said while many intellectuals call for a more determined fight against supporters of extremism, their efforts remain mostly isolated or made by people who don’t find support in their societies.

Yet, he said the case of Gülen is different.

“This Turkish citizen who lives in exile in the US was a person who used to give inspiration to [Turkish] President [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan before he became his biggest opponent. Even this shows his political and religious weight,” he said.

Erdoğan launched a war against Gülen and the faith-based Gülen movement he inspired after senior members of then-Prime Minister Erdoğan’s government were implicated in a graft probe that went public in December 2013. Erdoğan accused the movement of masterminding the probe to overthrow his government despite any evidence to this effect.

Denis also said Gülen puts greater responsibility on the shoulders of Muslims to eliminate terrorism and he rejects the approach that blames the Christian West for all the unfavorable developments in the world.

Noting that Gülen is fighting against a culture of hatred courageously and openly, Denis said: “I voluntarily stand behind this voice by making long quotations for the last editorial of this year. 2015 has not only been a year of those who spread unhappiness and desperation but it has also been a year of people like this [Gülen] who spread hope.”

Published on Sunday’s Zaman, 3 January 2016, Sunday
Source: Rumi Forum