Why does Fethullah Gülen Scare Us?

Mehmet Ali Birand
Mehmet Ali Birand


Date posted: March 9, 2012

M. Ali Birand Tuesday, 11 January 2005 

Over the years, Fethullah Gülen has the center of attention for many groups in our society. He was viewed with suspicion and concern, as if he were a symbol of hidden power. The curiosity he attracted then is still continuing today. Even in his latest statements to daily Milliyet, there were signs that he was revealing secrets.

We will come to a point at which we won’t be afraid of the free expression of ideas. Perhaps we will find this tolerant atmosphere strange at first, and some people might claim that we are losing our homeland because of this tolerance. There could even be a call for a coup and for the military to handle the situation. However, we will have to resist them. We will get used to it and adapt to it.

People view Fethullah Hodja from various perspectives. Many of them are confused about him. Although he hasn’t done anything secretive, suspicion and concern have always surrounded him.

At first, the military and some secularists gave him a hard time. However, take note: They are also confused. Many members of the military whom I personally know admire Gülen’s schools, especially those overseas. They have even enrolled their own children in those schools. The Ecevits, who are regarded as symbols of secularism, show respect to Gülen. They have even protected him when necessary.

On the other hand, the deep state has not stopped hounding Gülen. It has frequently punished him in the past, not only him but also his sympathizers and those who tolerate him.

I know the chance I took when I praised his schools. I can’t forget in particular how the media roughed up Hakan Şükür for weeks when he said he was sympathetic to Fethullah Hodja in television program “32nd Gün.” A campaign against Gülen was stepped up after some of his tape recordings were broadcast on Ali Kırca’s program, “Siyaset Meydanı,” and it’s not over yet. Perhaps Hodja’s preference to receive medical treatment abroad was due to these campaigns.

While there is confusion among the secularists, do you think conservatives are any different?

They’re no different.

As far as they’re concerned, the idea is to lure Gülen to their side and use him as a tool in their political machinations.

Gülen has a peculiar world view, a peculiar understanding of religion and state. He is being punished because he doesn’t resemble us. He doesn’t resemble Necmettin Erbakan or Yekta Güngör Özden, either.

We should learn how to avoid being upset by Fethullah Hodja:

I don’t share Fethullah Hodja’s world view. But I do respect his views.

Since I’m not afraid of him declaring his views, I also don’t believe that those people adopting his views can jeopardize the future of this country.

Let’s stop hounding Fethullah Gülen.

As Turkey proceeds towards European Union membership, we have to get rid of questions like, “How does he finance his activities?” or conspiracy theories claiming, “This man wants to lead the country to Islamic law (Shariah). Secret plans are being drawing up in his schools.”

Becoming an EU member means tolerating every view regardless of how contradictory it is to your own. Everyone can freely express his or her views unless they arm themselves and use terrorist tactics to implement their views.

Leaving Fethullah Gülen aside, we will get used to more radical views in the future, which will make us long for him. We won’t hound those saying, “I want to set up a state governed by Islamic law.” We won’t imprison anyone who says, “An independent Kurdish state should be established.”

At first, the military and some secularists gave him a hard time. However, take note: They are also confused. Many members of the military whom I personally know admire Gülen’s schools, especially those overseas. They have even enrolled their own children in those schools. The Ecevits, who are regarded as symbols of secularism, show respect to Gülen. They have even protected him when necessary.

We will come to a point at which we won’t be afraid of the free expression of ideas. Perhaps we will find this tolerant atmosphere strange at first, and some people might claim that we are losing our homeland because of this tolerance. There could even be a call for a coup and for the military to handle the situation.

However, we will have to resist them.

We will get used to it and adapt to it.

As we manage to do that, we will gain more self-confidence. We will break free of the fear of whether the country is divided or if Islamic law is threatening us. We, as a society, will expend our energy on concrete projects rather than on conspiracy theories.

While we are passing through these stages in the future, people reading the newspapers of the past 30 years will be surprised to see these articles and interpretations concerning Fethullah Gülen. At that time we will become aware of how EU membership has improved our country. And people will then see how much further we have come when compared to other Muslim countries.

Source: Originally published in TURKISH DAILY NEWS.

Note: This article was written 7 years ago. Interestingly, not much has changed since then, some groups are still attacking Gulen with old claims, which have been disproved many many times. We are publishing this article again to give some idea about criticisms and accusations about Gulen. – HizmetNews.Com.


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