Fethullah Gulen: A farm boy on the world stage

M. Fethullah Gulen
M. Fethullah Gulen


Date posted: March 7, 2008

PIOUS people in eastern Turkey, where Fethullah Gulen was born, are eager to praise him. Before hearing the preacher’s words 12 years ago, “I led a life full of women and alcohol,” admits Unal Sahin, a jeweller in Erzurum. Under Mr. Gulen’s guidance, he became devout and generous, helping a university in Georgia, and schools in India and Azerbaijan. “The more I gave, the more business grew,” he says. His wife, meanwhile, donned a scarf.

Gulen-affiliated groups in Istanbul can seem quite liberal—with bare-headed and headscarved women mingling happily. But the social pressure for pious ladies to cover their heads, and generally behave in a conservative way, is overwhelming in places like Erzurum.

When Gulen-minded couples exchange visits, “the men sit in one room and we sit in another, we’re more comfortable that way,” explains one member of a scarf-wearing Gulenist sisterhood that does door-to-door preaching. “Our husbands don’t mind that we aren’t home during the day…they know it’s because we are doing good for the cause,” she insists.

A place where piety’s rewards have yet to appear is Mr Gulen’s home village of Korucuk, east of Erzurum. Apart from a new mosque, its buildings are made of mud, stone and thatch. But its 600 souls are proud of the hamlet’s famous son. “God be praised, our village is all Muslim, and we don’t have the evil internet,” says Necdet Gulen, Fethullah’s cousin.

Yet for all the admiration he attracts, many details of the preacher’s life remain elusive. Before moving to the United States a decade ago, he had to play a cat-and-mouse game with the authorities. Shortly after his emigration, he was tried in his absence for “undermining secularism”. This followed the leaking of a tape in which he appeared to urge his followers to take over the state by stealth. (He said the tape was doctored.) The trial dragged on for many years; he was cleared in 2006, but an appeal court then reopened the case.

A key asset of the Gulenist network in Turkey, which includes a university, a newspaper and a raft of small and large businesses, is a chain of dormitories for students. There is a familiar pattern in which youngsters turn to the movement for accommodation and then agree to follow a regime of fasting and prayer.

Many of Turkey’s police are believed to be Gulen sympathisers—an interior minister once gave a figure of 70%—but the army remains highly suspicious. The movement is “apolitical” but has links with almost all Turkish political parties, save the main secular opposition. The Gulenists have lots in common with the ruling Justice and Development (AK) party, and they co-operate, but their interests are not identical. Rumour has it that Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the mildly Islamist prime minister, is holding back from replacing the Istanbul police chief for the simple reason that the Gulen movement wants the change—and he doesn’t want to seem beholden.

Source: The Economist http://www.economist.com/node/10808433 Mar 6th 2008 | erzurum | from the print edition | International

 


Related News

Turkey further from EU accession than in 2007, Swoboda says

Swoboda said “The main problem is that there are severe accusations from Erdoğan against the Gülen movement over infiltrating the judiciary and the police. He is using this argument to change a lot of personalities in the judiciary and police, trying to restrict the independence of the Constitutional Court and the HSYK. Therefore, we fear for the independence of justice,”

Threat to destroy the Hizmet Movement a hate crime

Erdoğan’s harsh attacks on the Hizmet movement, consisting of followers and sympathizers of Fethullah Gülen, reached a summit when he stated on Tuesday, “from A to Z everyone in this organization needs to pay the price. Either they will accept the presence of this state or they will disappear.”

Hizmet’s political stance: Speak the truth to power, no matter what the cost is

Fethullah Gulen dearly paid the cost of this truth-telling with many false allegations followed by years of trials and tribulations. Similarly he did not mind being politically incorrect when he raised his voice about the ongoing governmental corruption. Without violating the presumption of innocence, he said these allegations should be investigated thoroughly, and whether wrongdoers are affiliated with a political party or the Gulen movement, should be brought to justice.

Of judges and coupists – Recent coup attempt in Turkey

Let me put it on record that I’m one of the few who strongly believe the alleged coup attempt could have been stage-managed to give Tayyip Recep Erdogan the justification to clamp down on real and perceived opponents to his ambition to rewrite the constitution and transfer the centre of executive power from the office of the Prime Minister to the office of the President, which he presently occupies.

Intellectuals from West, East agree Gülen movement works for a better world

At a time when the faith-based Gülen movement is under heavy government pressure in Turkey, intellectuals from various countries have praised the movement for its efforts to make the world a better place for everyone by promoting education, peace, benevolence through dedication.

A Visit with Turkey’s Controversial Religious Movement

Piotr Zalewski / Diyarbakir, Turkey If anything, the tiny, informal gathering in Diyarbakir reveals a side of the Gulen movement that is key to its power — its management at the grass-roots level. Opening an Excel file on his laptop, Ozdemir the teacher asks each of the eight men present to report how much money […]

Latest News

Fethullah Gülen’s Condolence Message for South African Human Rights Defender Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Hizmet Movement Declares Core Values with Unified Voice

Ankara systematically tortures supporters of Gülen movement, Kurds, Turkey Tribunal rapporteurs say

Erdogan possessed by Pharaoh, Herod, Hitler spirits?

Devious Use of International Organizations to Persecute Dissidents Abroad: The Erdogan Case

A “Controlled Coup”: Erdogan’s Contribution to the Autocrats’ Playbook

Why is Turkey’s Erdogan persecuting the Gulen movement?

Purge-victim man sent back to prison over Gulen links despite stage 4 cancer diagnosis

University refuses admission to woman jailed over Gülen links

In Case You Missed It

“Turkey, with the great assistance of Fethullah Gülen‎ has been a model”

Dialogue advocacy group ‘disturbed’ by Erdoğan’s harassment of Hizmet

Kimse Yok Mu President: We are not leaving Somalia

The Pigeon, The Finger, and Hizmet’s ‘Inevitable Ambiguity’

Turkic American Alliance Condemns Government Takeover of Zaman

Fethullah Gulen’s Maxim: Live So That Others May Live

White House praises Rumi Forum

Copyright 2024 Hizmet News