Public Enemy No. 1: A Visit with Fethullah Gülen, Erdogan’s Chief Adversary

Cleric Fethullah Gülen at his home in American exile.
Cleric Fethullah Gülen at his home in American exile.


Date posted: July 19, 2016

In a meeting at his compound in Pennsylvania, Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen defends himself against claims made by Turkey’s president that he was behind this weekend’s failed coup. He alleges that power has poisoned Erdogan.

Fethullah Gülen is sitting in a small reception room in his home. There’s a small side table next to him, a blue fan and a glass of water. He wears a dark blazer and leather slippers. The elderly man has something he wants to say.

“I am prepared to be screened by an international commission,” he says. “If they find that I am guilty, then I will go to the execution chamber. But that won’t happen because I haven’t done anything.”

Gülen has been the focus of a considerable amount of international attention in recent days, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan having accused him and his influential Islamic movement of engineering the failed weekend military putsch in Turkey from his home in the United States. The preacher has been living in American exile since 1999 because of his many enemies in Turkey: His organization, called Hizmet, operates a global network of schools, firms and media companies — and is treated like a terrorist organization by Erdogan’s people. Gülen’s guarded complex, located near the small town of Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, around 100 miles from New York, is considered by officials in Ankara to be the headquarters of its greatest enemy.

Erdogan’s accusations are serious, and Gülen wants to defend both himself and his movement. He says he had nothing to do with the putsch and that Erdogan’s behavior borders on insanity. “I have already said several times that I am against any form of violence when it comes to achieving political goals,” he says. Gülen also claims that he supports democracy in Turkey. “I reject military putsches,” he says.

A Rare Visit

Those visiting the 75-year-old are subjected to a security screening at the entrance to his spacious complex, with armed guards conducting checks of each guest. The subject of anonymous death threats, the FBI advised Gülen to take this precaution several years ago. There are several buildings on the park-like property where his followers dedicate themselves to prayer. Few people are in sight and a Porsche SUV can be seen in a parking spot. Normally, guests are only rarely received here — and the media have virtually no access.

But this weekend, Gülen opened his doors to a group of reporters. He lives reclusively, in the back part of the property and guests must either take off their shoes or wrap them with plastic foil before entering his rooms. Women must cover their shoulders.

The reception room is formal, with lots of gold, ornamentation, elegant carpets and fine porcelain. Koran suras hang from the walls and an encyclopedia of Islam can be found on the shelves. One shelf unit is covered with all kinds of knick-knacks: a plastic combat helicopter, a globe, a vase. There’s a portable radio in one corner and a view of the surrounding green hills from the window.

A Friendship Turned Sour

Gülen is sitting on a beige sofa and looks weak. One of his aides says he has been suffering from heart trouble and diabetes. Gülen speaks in Turkish with a quiet voice, but his answers are long — very long. The preacher comes across like a statesman himself as he talks about Erdogan. He knows the Turkish president well.

During the rise of Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), Gülen and Erdogan were allies, united by their deep faith. Today they despise each other.

When Gülen went into exile, he called on his supporters to take over power in Turkey by infiltrating state institutions, thus prompting law enforcement officials to issue an arrest warrant for him.

Gülen’s rise began in the 1970s when he was an imam at a mosque in the northwestern Turkish city of Edirne. The charismatic cleric distributed his sermons via video and audio cassettes, and his following continuously grew. During the same period, he built up a network of private schools, private tutoring centers and dormitories, which he called “houses of light.” The alumnus of these institutions ultimately grew into a network of Gülen supporters over the decades. Today they own newspapers, television stations and banks.

Source: Spiegel , July 18, 2016


Related News

Interview with the Journalists and Writers Foundation Chairman Mustafa Yeşil: Questioning the Gülen Movement: Truths, Lies, and Conspiracies

The Movement fights against ignorance all around the world, reaches and brings service to people who are forgotten by the governments with their volunteers, and helps enrich their morality with Islam and material worlds with their modern institutions and instruments.

Turkey’s Erdoğan Regime Extends Post-Coup Witch Hunt Targeting Gülen Followers Abroad

Turkey, under the autocratic rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has stepped up its witch hunt against the alleged members of Gülen movement abroad, pro-Erdoğan English paper Daily Sabah reported. So far, 16 alleged Gülen followers have been abducted or caught abroad and transferred to Turkey from Asian, Middle Eastern countries and Bulgaria.

Fethullah Gulen’s statement on World Press Freedom Day

World Press Freedom Day is an occasion that shines a light on the importance of free speech and a free press. One truly cannot be considered a human being without freedom. Protection of essential freedoms, including the freedom of thought and expression are as important as the protection of life, freedom of religion, bodily and mental health, family and property.

Turkey: Effort to Force Closure of Gülen Schools Falling Flat in Eurasia

The situation in Georgia illustrates the challenge for Turkish diplomats. A few days after the July 15 coup attempt, a translation of a TV interview began circulating that featured Yasin Temizkan, Turkey’s consul in the city of Batumi. In the interview, Temizkan urged the Georgian government to close the local Refaiddin Şahin Friendship School, a private institution considered part of the Gülen network. The justification, Temizkan said, was that the school was “serving terrorist groups.”

Why Fethullah Gulen will never support a coup?

I consider that it is very illogical and unsubstantiated to blame a personality and implicitly the followers of his teachings for an action that is a potential source of a lot of human deaths, destruction and chaos. A similar philosophy of respect and love for everything due to their real Source, the Creator, could be one of our vital prescriptions that is essential against all types and sources of ferocity which we unfortunately witness in the world today.

The latest step by AKP-Gov’t witch-hunt against Hizmet Movement

In Turkey, the increasing pressure over the freedom of press, property rights and authoritarianism have reached an alarming level. A recent report on the rule of law and respect for human rights inTurkey declared that Turkish government had been perpetrating systematic human rights violations since December 2013.

Latest News

This notable Pocono resident has been living here in exile since 1999

Logistics companies seized over Gülen links sold in fast-track auction

That is Why the Turkish Government could Pay 1 Billion Euros

ECtHR rules Bulgaria violated rights of Turkish journalist who was deported despite seeking asylum

Fethullah Gülen’s Message of Condolences in the Wake of the Western European Floods

Pregnant woman kept in prison for 4 months over Gülen links despite regulations

Normalization of Abduction, Torture, and Death in Erdogan’s Turkey

Turkey’s Maarif Foundation illegally seized German-run school in Ethiopia, says manager

Failed 2016 coup was gov’t plot to purge Gülenists from state bodies, journalist claims

In Case You Missed It

Twitter users protest plan to close prep schools in Turkey

African Union Commission chair supports creation of more Turkish schools

Kurdish problem, PKK, AKP, Hizmet movement

Governor asks Turkish organisation to focus on Balochistan

Hizmet in Context: Societal Islam Versus Political Islam

Police and inspectors raid Gülen-inspired kindergarten in Manisa

Expert: I fear that Turkey is headed to a prolonged period of civil conflict if not civil war

Copyright 2021 Hizmet News