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

British law firm hired by AK Party gov’t launches defamation campaign against Gülen movement

A British law firm hired by the Turkish government has launched a defamation campaign in Washington against the Gülen movement, using the Turkish government’s narrative, part of the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) unceasing witch hunt against the faith-based movement in Turkey and abroad.

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,”

Fethullah Gulen condemns the coup attempt in Turkey

I condemn, in the strongest terms, the attempted military coup in Turkey. Government should be won through a process of free and fair elections, not force.

Hizmet Movement blog now available in Portuguese and Arabic

Committed to the mission to make the most up-to-date and accurate archive on Fethullah Gulen and the Hizmet Movement conveniently available to any inquiry, Hizmet Movement blog has taken yet another step towards reaching out to an even greater population.

Fethullah Gulen awarded in the Philippines for contribution to peace

The Philippine army chief has honored Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen with a special award for the charity activities and contributions to peace of the faith-based Hizmet movement. Philippine Chief of General Staff Gen. Leonardo B. Guerrero said during a beef-sharing ceremony that the army is grateful for the important activities of the Hizmet movement […]

Monday Talk with Michael Rubin on Trump, Iran and Turkey

There is a rule-of-law in the United States and a process which the president simply does not have the power to short-circuit. If Gulen is turned over, however, I suspect relations will get worse because the extradition will convince Erdogan that blackmail and bluster work.

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

Gülen has strongly rejected comparison to Iran’s Khomeini time and again

GYV says arrest warrant for Gülen motivated by upcoming election

The tragic story of a Turkish family fleeing to Greece from persecution

Turkish NGO Kimse Yok Mu handed over 296 houses for flood affectees

Russian expert: Kimse Yok Mu is in no way a terrorist organization

Malian Medical Students: Ramadan feels different this year

Former AK Party minister praises Turkish Olympiads

Copyright 2022 Hizmet News