Fethullah Gulen: Violence can not be a remedy for violence

M. Fethullah Gulen
M. Fethullah Gulen

Date posted: November 18, 2005


Interpreting the violent events in France for Aksiyon, Fethullah Gulen said: “Intelligence organizations should work in Turkey more sensitively. Violence should be suppressed even before it gets out of its slot. If you exhaust your power with delusions such as ‘It is possible that these will pose a threat in the future. Let us destroy them even before they do that.’ and use your power against improbable pretended things, you cannot anticipate the real danger.”

We had got the chance to interview with Fethullah Gulen Hodjaefendi, and we had some questions to ask. The events that broke up in France and displayed tendency to spread through the neighbouring countries during the same days shifted the course of our interview. While using the limited time, the current events became dominant issues of the interview. Cradle of the 1789 revolution, Paris was burning in flames. The pictures were reminders of the scattering of the released prisoners from Bastille Prison throughout the city. Besides, what about the outcomes of these events? Would Paris mobilise the ghettos once again? Having found Gulen Hodjaefendi, we asked all these questions to him.

While talking about Paris, we recalled the Bozuyuk events. Those who wanted to perform an October 29 march to Diyarbakir with the aim of a counter-action came to our minds. We were just in the process of writing down the text with a great enthusiasm when the events in Semdinli broke up. We were not working for a daily newspaper. In a weekly magazine you often find yourself fall behind the ‘hot news’. Being unable to publish our work in the same day caused us to stay behind the events that occured in relation to the subjects we had talked about. And we had no chance to re-access Fethullah Gulen Hodjaefendi to ask these questions.

What do you think about the events that started in France and gradually tends to spread through the neighbouring countries as well?

It is not the first time such an event has occured in history; especially France is a country which has experienced various confusions throughout its own history. Of these, the most important is the Great French Revolution, which is a big revolution like the Russian Revolution; it has affected the whole world and brought forward different ideas as well. In that period, there has been lots of bloodshed and the revolution has victimized even its own perpetrators. Thousands of people were executed everyday. And the revolution almost ate up itself. Such that, one day Robespierre, who made Danton be executed, asks him: “What is your last wish?” Danton says: “I have no wish. At the end of the day, our heads will come together in the basket.” That means, the heads of both the executor and the executed came together in the same basket.

Within the revolutional circumstances everthing can get out of control…

Yes, France knows this very well. The prisoners who were released during The Revolution have confused a whole nation and looted the palaces. Like in all revolutions, those who made the way for turmoil have used violence without considering any logic and reasoning. A person who had sided with the revolutionists in Turkey and risen up to the top level had told me once: “It had no ground.” says he, “We entered the room of the man who governed the country. Then I saw people of my level jumping on the bed of that head of state. With that state of mind, I climbed the bed as well. I jumped for a few times, then I said to myself ‘Look here! Isn’t it the property of state? Why are we ruining it? We have overthrown the man but what’s the logic for ruining this, isn’t it a delirium?’ Then I left there immediately for the fear that if they realized this idea of me, they would also knock me down.”

So the psychology of revolution is some kind of a damaging psychology?

Furthermore, if their souls have got wild, the balance cannot be kept and behaviours out of the correct path occur when the feelings are revealed within that state of mind –even if it is done on behalf of justice. This is the case about the French Revolution as well; there has been a great turmoil. Then Napolyon came and tracked the same way. I have seen the period of De Gaulle. We know that there has been also assasination plans against him. Such kinds of turmoils have been experienced in Europe before. Max Weber also touches at these issues. However, there are rather Capitalist considerations and labour rights behind these events. Now if the prisons are evacuated in the US as well, everything turns upside down in this country, too. Damaging is easy. A hundred people can turn the whole city upside down. We Turks also witnessed such kinds of damages in a smaller extent. Then, I felt the need to present this issue to point at the characteristics of rebellions, revolts and riots as far as I could.

Is the violence in Paris an ordinary revolt or a social turmoil that has deeper reasons?

First of all, this kind of issues should be approached with great care and calmness. These events can not be explained by approaches such as “There were people who wanted to live according to Islam. They were being oppressed. Headscarf was being a problem.” People of a certain position should talk very carefully. In my opinion, the events that took place in Paris had nothing to do with Islam. Up to know, nobody uttered such a thing, either.

So there are deeper reasons…

In fact, though not explicitly, there has been a woven cast system in France still kept alive. There are the dominant nobles and those who are considered inferior to the nobles. There are the ones who are seen foreigners and periferials. And on the other hand, there are the ones who are seen inferior due to their skin colour. If these people were considered second or third class citizens and obliged to live in the suburbs, then what would you expect? These have no life insurances, no guarantees, no security. Unemployment first affects them when it occurs. If there is a heavy work to be done, these people have to do it, as they are obliged to. The problem of education first appears in their athmosphere. And in this way they are oppressed to the point that they get filled with the psychology of oppression. So they reach to the end of their tether. They come to the point of explosion, which we express in Turkish as “The last drop that overflows the glass.”

What’s really important is the backstage of the events, that means…

Let me recount something that I had read in the past, as an example. A man is sitting at a coffeehouse. Another one is constantly stirring the sugar in his glass of tea. The first man who cannot put up with the noise of the teaspoon, pours the whole glass of tea over the other man’s head. People cannot give any meaning to this reaction of the first man and they enter the subconscious of the man through psychoanalysis. What they see is the fact that this man lives in a noisy street. And his house is placed under a tram line. The street he works at is noisy, besides, at home he always listens to the noise of the frequent trains. The man has been filled with noise in the street, at home, and then he finds a noisy environment when he comes to the coffeehouse; finally the noise of the teaspoon becomes the last drop that overflows the glass for him. Now the reaction of this man cannot be explained by the noise of the teaspoon alone.

If some people are scattered in the streets burning the cars, this event shouldn’t be related simply to the issue of the ban on headscarves or not being given the chance to have education at university like others. These events have aspects that extend to some movements in African countries, and some movements and struggles for independence in Algeria. There is the accumulation of their pains and such kind of disturbancy in their subconscious formed by this accumulation. When the idea of being persecuted becomes dominant in the subconscoius, even normal behavoiurs start to be interpreted in terms of this persecution. Whatever they know, they are all evaluated from the same perspective and due to these problems that have been accumulated, when somebody is harrased, it blows their stack. We should relate the reasons of these events to these kinds of backgrounds. These people have been filled until now, and they have erupted. They have used violence; and the ones who want to stop this violence fall into the wrongdoing of reacting with even more violence. Today, these kinds of wrongdoings are performed against terror, some revolts and rebels. When violence is reacted with violence, the feeling of violence in those people rises more. For example, let us suppose that somebody is behaving badly in some place. Instead of determining him particularly, and attacking him locally, they see everybody around him as potential criminals. They get involved in a paranoia, to such an extent that when a man puts his hand in his pocket to look at his watch, they think that he will take out a gun. And in this way, while there is the chance of localizing the existing enemy group, this chance is lost; a way for the spread of hostility is opened and it is made impossible to be stopped. Today those who intervened in the Middle East have unfortunately caused the feeling of hatred towards them to become more widespread, instead of removing terror from there. They have fuelled the grudges more and have completely lost the confidence towards themselves. When the other side gets a little organized, much more evil can be done illogically and unreasonably. This is what is being done in France, I mean. That’s why when two young people talked into the microfone, they explicitly said: “Either they will accept us as humanbeings equal to themselves and give us the same rights with a Frenchman, or we say ‘Right is not given but taken’ just like the communists repeated at a time and take our rights in this way.”

Will their power be enough for this?

Maybe those who represent power will oppress them, but they can never oppress the grudge and hatred in the hearts by reacting towards violence with violence. If they do that, not only Moroccans, but also all the other people who have come from other countries will start to feel grudge and hatred towards them. Those who are intimidated by violence will act again when any weakness is seen within the body of the state. By the way, there is always a possibility that some domestic groups within France are acting with the aim to secure their positions by inflaming these events themselves.

What kind of political merit can be gained from the riots?

As you know, the head of the French state has behaved generously in terms of Turkey’s accession to the European Union. His opponent made the grassroots act differently and the issue was subjected to referandum this time. They said that they could only say yes if their people said yes in the referandum. Some people may also want to use these events in this direction as well. Some squabbles were made, now a person of that direction may be utilizing these kinds of events.

There is a South East issue in Turkey and unfortunately there are ghettos around the big cities there also. Do these events that are spreading to neighbouring countries make you anxious?

There is a South East issue in Turkey. And at the same time, many people of South East Anatolia have settled in the suburbs of the big cities; but I don’t think that all of the people who have settled in those suburbs have this same feeling. According to the surveys carried both by state officials and civil organizations, 95 percent of these people say “no” to the things that Turkish people generally say “no”. About our people, our country they would say “This is our people, this is our country.” However, there are people in Turkey who wants to use the slight differences like the races, religious sects, ideologies etc, such as believer-unbeliever, Alawite-Sunni, Turkish-Kurdish, Circassian-Abhaza, so and so forth. They want to use these cleaveges for their evil plans and they hide within the society while they run these plans. There is such a prepared determined power base out of the state. These are outside the official units of the state. As I mentioned earlier, those are the ones who raise terror, turmoil in a place and inflame rebellion.

Doesn’t the existence of them show the existence of danger at the same time?

That’s why we should be careful. We should take lessons from the events in France. Intelligence organizations should work in Turkey sensitively. The violence should be suppressed even before it gets out of its slot. If you exhaust your power with delusions such as ‘It is possible that these will pose a threat in the future. Let us destroy them even before they do that.’ and use your power against improbable pretended things, you cannot anticipate the real danger. May Allah bestow upon us foresight. Otherwise, if the intelligence service works well, if the police, the gendarme, the military and their intelligence departments work well, they will absolutely do the job on their part. If they are vigilant, if the governors are vigilant, if the police is vigilant, then those who want to this thing will be caught up in time. Moreover, when a few of them are forced to talk , then the powers behind the job and the affairs of the deep state will also be revealed. Then, this kind of a rioting will not be given chance.

You are optimistic in this matter…

In fact Turkey is not like France. There are neither oppressed Moroccans, Tunisians, nor Algerians in Turkey. When you handle the issue in terms of race, our citizens, the Kurds are a Mesopotamian rooted people who have shared the same fate with us for four centuries. They died with us in Dardanelles, in the War of Independence. With a signature of Idris-i Bitlisi, they have lived as brothers and sisters for four centuries, there has been no problem. If an attempt to cause a problem is done, it is also possible that problems shall arise from within the Turkish people. For example, there has been the bandits like Koroglu, Dadaloglu, and Jalali revolts. It is always a possibility that rebels shall arise from the same nation. There may have been rebels from the side of the Kurds as well, I don’t know. For me, these people are our brothers and sisters. Maybe you have married with them, you gave bride, you took bride, etc..Therefore, in our country there is no deprivation due to ethnic discrimation in general terms, so some current events cannot be considered the last drop overflowing the glass. I mean, there is no event that fills the glass in the first place. Everybody can become a soldier in Turkey. Every group can have one of their people be generals or even presidents. Look for example, our second president Ismet Inonu is from Malatya, and is Kurdish. So was Turgut Ozal, the eight president. A successful statesman is Hikmet Cetin. He has performed very important duties for the Turkish state. He is now serving in Afghanistan. And he is from Diyarbakir. You see there are people from the Circassians, Abhazas, Zazas, Georgians and others as well. That means, nobody in Turkey have been deprived of the benefactions of democracy. Nobody has ever become third class citizen. Maybe some Muslims have been oppressed. But as plain citizens, nobody has been oppressed, which makes it impossible for them to be fed up and consider rioting or revolting. Therefore, there is no logical ground to give rise to such an event in Turkey. I think we need to further guarantee that such tendencies never flourish in our country. The state on one hand, the non-governmental organizations on the other hand should establish educational institutions in the suburbs of the East and South East Anatolia… Also, there are people in our country whose words are influential. They should be utilized also.

It is said that the social ties have become so loose, and there are generation gaps. Is it still possible to find people who would be effective on the society?

There has been such a case in Erzurum. May his place be in the Heavens, Naim Hoca came in front of the people, he opened his arms like scissors –as in the expression of Necip Fazil; he said “Stop you crowds, this is a dead end” and the crowds stopped. A serious clash could always take place. There are this kind of people who had settled in people’s hearts with their influence and credits. These people can be found, you can call them sages as well. These are personalities of esteem for generations, these can be people geneologically linked to the Prophet Muhammad. Or they can be from the siblings of Caliph Ali. These people are very influential in their localities. In other words, while looking for administrational and political solutions on one hand, on the other hand the problem should be dealt with in the first place by using these people to cut the roots of such movements. If you want you can call it protective medicine, which means to block dissensions from its inception. With the permission and grace of Allah Almighty, these kind of things can be hindered. Moreover, -we don’t have the system of excommunication but- when these sages exclude people of wrongdoings from the community, they won’t be able to appear in the society any more.

In my opinion, the issue should be dealt with thoroughly. Possibly –I don’t see it certain- as I mentioned, the substructure of the issue has not formed yet, as opposed to France. Grudges and hatreds have not reached a level of eruption like that. No citizen of Turkey has ever been considered second or third class citizen. Therefore, none of the factors exist in Turkey, that can lead to such an event. Everybody is benefiting from the advantages of democracy and the Republic. Although some people prevent some other from benefiting from these advantages, this is not a general situation. They may deprive a person from his/her rights to live as a citizen. But there is no point in fuelling grudge and hatred in the country by generalizing this issue. If needed, some people even should sacrifice their own rights and side with peace in Turkey.

The word “possible” is still a reminiscent of a risk. What is that risk?

There is something called “mass psychology”, and books have been written on it. There is the group aspect of people as well. When a few of them flow into the streets, the others immediately follow them to learn what’s happening. Therefore all the intelligence sercives should be on the alert so as not to give way to this kind of events. It seems to me that, if they wanted, the police, the gendarme and the National Intelligence Organization wouldn’t let even a bird fly out of their knowledge. I, personally, as a citizen feel resentment for them in my conscience. If a bird flies out of their knowledge, this means they failed in their job, and their situation should be reviewed. Because I know about their utmost sensitivity in other subjects. If those people who know what a person ate in lunch, what is being prepared for dinner and what he will have in the breakfast, don’t know the events that can lead to turmoil in Turkey, then I won’t say that they can’t know it, I will say that they see but ignore. I feel that if they forced themselves a bit more, they can strangle disturbance and corruption in its nest, with the help and grace of Allah. This is what interests us.

In this kind of events, who has the duty to use the compromising and soothing effect of religion; what can be done in this perspective?

Administrating the religious affairs, both at individual and social levesl, is given to the organization of Diyanet (The Undersecretariat of Religions). They have certain duties and responsibilities. They can guide the people; there are preachers, imams and muftis with high credit and respect within the society. While activating different systems against disturbance, the state can give information about what is going on under the waters to them and enable these information be evaluated in mosques. These preachers, imams and muftis can warn people. We have muftis and preachers who are ready to do this. With the permission of Allah, they can be more effective than intelligence works. However, some are disturbed by this effectiveness. Naim Hoca had been influential in the inactivating of a disturbance. A columnist in Turkey found this really dangerous and wrote that: “If a retired imam effendi can sooth a revolted society, this means that he can also arouse a society to revolt if he wants.” Unfortunately, judgments are built on delusions. There are people thinking in this way. The previous day, one other said that: “Mind your schools and such stuff. What on earth are you talking about your ideas on issues related to the society?” Look at this… It is as if you should get permission from him even before doing something for the well-being of society. Having tied their life on grudge, hatred and damage, they have built their world upon hostility and they can not think anything else than hostility. When you give your hand to them, they pull back their hands and don’t shake your hand.

Isn’t there anything that can be done for them?

There are some freaks that I don’t understand their nature. I mean, I can’t see them in any category… I can’t understand their observations. “No,” they say, “even goodness from you be damned.” Anyhow, if there is something that is interpreted to be bad, they won’t let you survive, but even your goodness disturbs them. I think while walking towards goodness and getting rid of evils, it is necessary to take the incomprehensible feelings of these freaks into account and act moderately and balanced. If the attitudes and behaviours of people who have dedicated themselves to their country, who are working for peace in the world, who want to be respectful to the position of everyone, who want to be steadfast on universal humanitarian values, and who want to relate everything with humanitarian values do disturb some people, I think those strange feelings of them should also be taken into consideration and they should not be irritated.

Source: Aksiyon Magazine , November 14, 2005

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