Turkish deputy PM says Fethullah Gülen is supra-political, conscience of 75 million people in Turkey

Deputy PM Bülent Arınç (Photo: AA)
Deputy PM Bülent Arınç (Photo: AA)

Date posted: May 23, 2013

Turkey’s deputy prime minister has hailed the role of respected Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, saying that his thinking and behavior are well beyond what he called the “limited boundaries” of politics. Bülent Arınç met with Gülen last week in his residence in Pennsylvania in a visit he described as “personal.”

In an interview with TRT Türk TV channel on Wednesday, Arınç described Gülen as “supra-politics,” and said he is the “conscience of 75 million people” in Turkey. He praised Gülen for only talking truth and recommending right things, even to the opposition.

Arınç also dismissed speculations that there is discord between the Gülen movement and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party).

He frequently called Gülen “Hocaefendi” during his interview, a title followers use for him. Arınç said he first knew Gülen in 1975-76, when Gülen was on duty preaching in the Aegean province of Manisa. He said before the visit to Gülen in Pennsylvania, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sent his greetings.

“Would he have any orders, recommendations for us, please ask him this too,” Erdoğan said, according to Arınç. In Turkish language, asking someone if he or she has any “orders” is an expression of respect.

Gülen is a Turkish Islamic scholar well known for his teachings promoting mutual understanding and tolerance between cultures. Now residing in the US, Gülen has pioneered educational activities in a number of countries, along with efforts to promote intercultural and interfaith activities around the world.

He has also written nearly 50 books in Turkish, some of which have been translated into several languages.

Arınç said there have been a number of speculative reports that appeared in the media related to the Gülen movement’s activities in Turkey and that he wanted to ask Gülen directly about them. “We wanted to ask him directly about all this, if he has any recommendation or proposals or if there is any mistake we made and we will ask him to enlighten us in this respect,” Arınç said.

Arınç categorically rejected claims of any rivalry or dispute between the government and the movement, saying “I explicitly reject this.”

The deputy prime minister said those who are speculating about a dispute between the government and movement don’t know exactly who Gülen is or have no idea what his activities are all about.

Arınç said it is not right to put Gülen into the frame of a political party or see his services to people as in line with the government’s policies. “For me, Hocaefendi is a supra-political man. We are not expecting a Fethullah Gülen affiliated with the AK Party. He is not indifferent to politics but we should not think of him within the limited boundaries of a political party or as someone who would say “great” to every step of the government. He can see better than us. He can assess things better than us. He is very closely following Turkey and the world. I personally witnessed that,” Arınç added.

Gülen is regarded as the founder and inspirer of the global social movement known as the Hizmet (Service) Movement, more popularly known as the Gülen Movement.

In March 1999, upon the recommendation of his doctors, he moved to the US to receive medical care.

Despite the high regard millions hold for him, Gülen considers himself a volunteering member of the civil society movement he helped found and does not accept any credit of leadership of the movement.

Gülen currently resides in Pennsylvania and continues to write and give talks on various subjects.

Arınç said Gülen “loves Erdoğan very much” and that he reiterated this in his speech. He added that he is praying for him and that he believes he has great services for the people. The deputy prime minister stated that Gülen appreciates the successful policies of the government in the past 10 years. But he said Gülen also made warnings regarding “some topics,” without elaborating.

He said Gülen urged restraint and said the government should be more careful about some of its discourse.

Arınç said both he and Gülen agreed that that there is a need to prevent damaging speculations and that they could directly talk to each other in case of miscommunication or any speculations.

Arınç also slammed those who claimed that Arınç returned from the visit “empty-handed” or that he was not greeted well there. “These all are untrue. Our friendship is for the sake of God. We love him because of his great services so far, for many services he has provided to Turkey and the world up to today,” Arınç said.

Arınç recalled that Erdoğan earlier asked Gülen to return to Turkey and that he will be delighted to see him back in Turkey but said it is not possible today.

Arınç said Gülen is longing for his “homeland” and when “you look at gifts he received in his room, you can see that they are mostly bowls with soils from different parts of homeland.”

“He loves Turkey a lot and his fidelity to his country is deep. I think he will stay there [in the US] for some time for several reasons. He believes it is unlikely that he will return to Turkey now,” Arınç added.

Source: Today’s Zaman May 23, 2013

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