"Gülen’s Condemnation Message of Terrorism", 2001
"Gülen’s Condemnation Message of Terrorism", The Washington Post (September 12, 2001)
- I would like to stress that any terrorist activity, no matter who does it and for what purpose, is the greatest blow to peace, democracy, humanity, and all religious values. For this reason, no one—and certainly no Muslims – can approve of any terrorist activity.
- The world should be assured that, although there may always be some who exploit any religion for their interests, Islam does not approve of terrorism in any form. Terrorism cannot be used to achieve any Islamic goal. No terrorist can be a Muslim, and no true Muslim can be a terrorist. Islam orders peace, and the Qur’an demands from each true Muslim that he or she be a symbol of peace and support the maintenance of basic human rights. If a ship is carrying nine criminals and one innocent person, Islam does not allow the ship to be sunk to punish the nine criminals, for doing so would violate the innocent person’s rights.
- The Qur’an declares that one who takes a life unjustly has, in effect, taken the lives of humanity as a whole, and that one who saves a life has, in effect, saved the lives of humanity as a whole.
- I strongly condemn this latest terrorist attack on the United States. It only deserves condemnation and contempt, and it must be condemned by every person in the world. I believe that before America’s leaders and people respond to this heinous assault, I would like to express that they surely understand why such a terrible event occurred and how similar tragedies can be avoided in the future.
"Fethullah Gulen: Powerful but reclusive Turkish cleric", 2014
"Fethullah Gulen: Powerful but reclusive Turkish cleric", BBC (January 27, 2014)
- They try to portray us as a pro-Israeli movement, in the sense that we have a higher regard for them than our nation. We are accepting them as a people, as part of the people of the world.
- If I were to say anything to people I may say people should vote for those who are respectful to democracy, rule of law, who get on well with people. Telling or encouraging people to vote for a party would be an insult to peoples' intellect. Everybody very clearly sees what is going on.
"Fethullah Gulen: Turkey’s Eroding Democracy", 2015
"Fethullah Gulen: Turkey’s Eroding Democracy", The New York Times (February 3, 2015)
- It is deeply disappointing to see what has become of Turkey in the last few years. Not long ago, it was the envy of Muslim-majority countries: a viable candidate for the European Union on its path to becoming a functioning democracy that upholds universal human rights, gender equality, the rule of law and the rights of Kurdish and non-Muslim citizens. This historic opportunity now appears to have been squandered as Turkey’s ruling party, known as the A.K.P., reverses that progress and clamps down on civil society, media, the judiciary and free enterprise.
- Turkey’s current leaders seem to claim an absolute mandate by virtue of winning elections. But victory doesn’t grant them permission to ignore the Constitution or suppress dissent, especially when election victories are built on crony capitalism and media subservience. The A.K.P.’s leaders now depict every democratic criticism of them as an attack on the state. By viewing every critical voice as an enemy — or worse, a traitor — they are leading the country toward totalitarianism.
- The latest victims of the clampdown are the staff, executives and editors of independent media organizations who were detained and are now facing charges made possible by recent changes to the laws and the court system. The director of one of the most popular TV channels, arrested in December, is still behind bars. Public officials investigating corruption charges have also been purged and jailed for simply doing their jobs. An independent judiciary, a functioning civil society and media are checks and balances against government transgressions. Such harassment sends the message that whoever stands in the way of the ruling party’s agenda will be targeted by slander, sanctions and even trumped-up charges.
- Turkey’s rulers have not only alienated the West, they are also now losing credibility in the Middle East. Turkey’s ability to assert positive influence in the region depends not only on its economy but also on the health of its own democracy.
- The core tenets of a functioning democracy — the rule of law, respect for individual freedoms — are also the most basic of Islamic values bestowed upon us by God. No political or religious leader has the authority to take them away. It is disheartening to see religious scholars provide theological justification for the ruling party’s oppression and corruption or simply stay silent. Those who use the language and symbols of religious observance but violate the core principles of their religion do not deserve such loyalty from religious scholars.
- Speaking against oppression is a democratic right, a civic duty and for believers, a religious obligation. The Quran makes clear that people should not remain silent in the face of injustice: “O you who believe! Be upholders and standard-bearers of justice, bearing witness to the truth for God’s sake, even though it be against your own selves, or parents or kindred.”
- For the past 50 years, I have been fortunate to take part in a civil society movement, sometimes referred to as Hizmet, whose participants and supporters include millions of Turkish citizens. These citizens have committed themselves to interfaith dialogue, community service, relief efforts and making life-changing education accessible. They have established more than 1,000 modern secular schools, tutoring centers, colleges, hospitals and relief organizations in over 150 countries. They are teachers, journalists, businessmen and ordinary citizens.
- The rhetoric used by the ruling party repeatedly to crack down on Hizmet participants is nothing but a pretext to justify their own authoritarianism. Hizmet participants have never formed a political party nor have they pursued political ambitions. Their participation in the movement is driven by intrinsic rewards, not extrinsic ones.
- I have spent over 50 years preaching and teaching the values of peace, mutual respect and altruism. I’ve advocated for education, community service and interfaith dialogue. I have always believed in seeking happiness in the happiness of others and the virtue of seeking God’s pleasure in helping His people. Whatever influence is attributed to me, I have used it as a means to promote educational and social projects that help nurture virtuous individuals. I have no interest in political power.
- Many Hizmet participants, including me, once supported the ruling party’s agenda, including the 2005 opening of accession negotiations with the European Union. Our support then was based on principle, as is our criticism today. It is our right and duty to speak out about government policies that have a deep impact on society. Unfortunately, our democratic expression against public corruption and authoritarianism has made us victims of a witch-hunt; both the Hizmet movement and I are being targeted with hate speech, media smear campaigns and legal harassment.
- Like all segments of Turkish society, Hizmet participants have a presence in government organizations and in the private sector. These citizens cannot be denied their constitutional rights or be subjected to discrimination for their sympathy to Hizmet’s ideals, as long as they abide by the laws of the country, the rules of their institutions and basic ethical principles. Profiling any segment of society and viewing them as a threat is a sign of intolerance.
- We are not the only victims of the A.K.P.’s crackdown. Peaceful environmental protesters, Kurds, Alevis, non-Muslim citizens and some Sunni Muslim groups not aligned with the ruling party have suffered, too. Without checks and balances, no individual or group is safe from the ruling party’s wrath. Regardless of their religious observance, citizens can and should unite around universal human rights and freedoms, and democratically oppose those who violate them.
- Turkey has now reached a point where democracy and human rights have almost been shelved. I hope and pray that those in power reverse their current domineering path. In the past the Turkish people have rejected elected leaders who strayed from a democratic path. I hope they will exercise their legal and democratic rights again to reclaim the future of their country.
"Fethullah Gulen: I Condemn All Threats to Turkey’s Democracy", 2016
"Fethullah Gulen: I Condemn All Threats to Turkey’s Democracy", The New York Times (July 26, 2016)
- During the attempted military coup in Turkey this month, I condemned it in the strongest terms. “Government should be won through a process of free and fair elections, not force,” I said. “I pray to God for Turkey, for Turkish citizens, and for all those currently in Turkey that this situation is resolved peacefully and quickly.”
- Despite my unequivocal protest, similar to statements issued by all three of the major opposition parties, Turkey’s increasingly authoritarian president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, immediately accused me of orchestrating the putsch. He demanded that the United States extradite me from my home in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania where I have lived in voluntary exile since 1999.
- Not only does Mr. Erdogan’s suggestion run afoul of everything I believe in, it is also irresponsible and wrong.
- My philosophy — inclusive and pluralist Islam, dedicated to service to human beings from every faith — is antithetical to armed rebellion. For more than 40 years, the participants in the movement that I am associated with — called Hizmet, the Turkish word for “service” — have advocated for, and demonstrated their commitment to, a form of government that derives its legitimacy from the will of the people and that respects the rights of all citizens regardless of their religious views, political affiliations or ethnic origins. Entrepreneurs and volunteers inspired by Hizmet’s values have invested in modern education and community service in more than 150 countries.
- At a time when Western democracies are searching for moderate Muslim voices, I and my friends in the Hizmet movement have taken a clear stance against extremist violence, from the Sept. 11 attacks by Al Qaeda to brutal executions by the Islamic State to the kidnappings by Boko Haram.
- In addition to condemning mindless violence, including during the coup attempt, we have emphasized our commitment to preventing terrorists’ recruitment from among Muslim youth and nurturing a peaceful, pluralist mind-set.
- Throughout my life, I have publicly and privately denounced military interventions in domestic politics. In fact, I have been advocating for democracy for decades. Having suffered through four military coups in four decades in Turkey — and having been subjected by those military regimes to harassment and wrongful imprisonment — I would never want my fellow citizens to endure such an ordeal again. If somebody who appears to be a Hizmet sympathizer has been involved in an attempted coup, he betrays my ideals.
- Nevertheless, Mr. Erdogan’s accusation is no surprise, not for what it says about me but rather for what it reveals about his systematic and dangerous drive toward one-man rule.
- Like many Turkish citizens, the Hizmet movement’s participants supported Mr. Erdogan’s early efforts to democratize Turkey and fulfill the requirements for membership in the European Union. But we were not silent as he turned from democracy to despotism. Even before these new purges, Mr. Erdogan in recent years has arbitrarily closed newspapers; removed thousands of judges, prosecutors, police officers and civil servants from their positions; and taken especially harsh measures against Kurdish communities. He has declared his detractors enemies of the state.
- Hizmet, in particular, has been the target of the president’s wrath. In 2013, Mr. Erdogan blamed Hizmet sympathizers within the Turkish bureaucracy for initiating a corruption investigation that implicated members of his cabinet and other close associates. As a result, scores of members of the judiciary and the police forces were purged or arrested for simply doing their jobs.
- Since 2014, when Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdogan was elected president after 11 years as prime minister, he has sought to transform Turkey from a parliamentary democracy into an “executive presidency,” essentially without checks on his power. In that context, Mr. Erdogan’s recent statement that the failed coup was a “gift from God” is ominous. As he seeks to purge still more dissenters from government agencies — nearly 70,000 people have been fired so far — and to crack down further on Hizmet and other civil society organizations, he is removing many of the remaining impediments to absolute power. Amnesty International has revealed “credible” reports of torture, including rape, at detention centers. No wonder Mr. Erdogan’s government suspended the European Convention on Human Rights and declared a state of emergency.
- Turkey’s president is blackmailing the United States by threatening to curb his country’s support for the international coalition against the Islamic State. His goal: to ensure my extradition, despite a lack of credible evidence and virtually no prospect for a fair trial. The temptation to give Mr. Erdogan whatever he wants is understandable. But the United States must resist it.
- Violent extremism feeds on the frustrations of those forced to live under dictators who cannot be challenged by peaceful protests and democratic politics. In Turkey, the Erdogan government’s shift toward a dictatorship is polarizing the population along sectarian, political, religious and ethnic lines, fueling the fanatics.
- For the sake of worldwide efforts to restore peace in turbulent times, as well as to safeguard the future of democracy in the Middle East, the United States must not accommodate an autocrat who is turning a failed putsch into a slow-motion coup of his own against constitutional government.
"Fethullah Gulen: The Turkey I no longer know", 2017
"Fethullah Gulen: The Turkey I no longer know", The Washington Post (May 15, 2017)
- As the presidents of the United States and Turkey meet at the White House on Tuesday, the leader of the country I have called home for almost two decades comes face to face with the leader of my homeland. The two countries have a lot at stake, including the fight against the Islamic State, the future of Syria and the refugee crisis.
- But the Turkey that I once knew as a hope-inspiring country on its way to consolidating its democracy and a moderate form of secularism has become the dominion of a president who is doing everything he can to amass power and subjugate dissent.
- The West must help Turkey return to a democratic path. Tuesday’s meeting, and the NATO summit next week, should be used as an opportunity to advance this effort.
- Since July 15, following a deplorable coup attempt, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has systematically persecuted innocent people — arresting, detaining, firing and otherwise ruining the lives of more than 300,000 Turkish citizens, be they Armenians, Kurds, Alevis, secularists, leftists, journalists, academics or participants of Hizmet, the peaceful humanitarian movement with which I am associated.
- As the coup attempt unfolded, I fiercely denounced it and denied any involvement. Furthermore, I said that anyone who participated in the putsch betrayed my ideals. Nevertheless, and without evidence, Erdogan immediately accused me of orchestrating it from 5,000 miles away.
- The next day, the government produced lists of thousands of individuals whom they tied to Hizmet — for opening a bank account, teaching at a school or reporting for a newspaper — and treated such an affiliation as a crime and began destroying their lives. The lists included people who had been dead for months and people who had been serving at NATO’s European headquarters at the time. International watchdogs have reported numerous abductions, in addition to torture and deaths in detention. The government pursued innocent people outside Turkey, pressuring Malaysia, for instance, to deport three Hizmet sympathizers last week, including a school principal who has lived there for more than a decade, to face certain imprisonment and likely torture.
- In April, the president won a narrow referendum victory — amid allegations of serious fraud — to form an “executive presidency” without checks and balances, enabling him to control all three branches of the government. To be sure, through purges and corruption, much of this power was already in his hands. I fear for the Turkish people as they enter this new stage of authoritarianism.
- It didn’t start this way. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) came into power in 2002 by promising democratic reforms in pursuit of European Union membership. But as time went on, Erdogan became increasingly intolerant of dissent. He facilitated the transfer of many media outlets to his cronies through government regulatory agencies. In June of 2013, he crushed the Gezi Park protesters. In December of that year, when his cabinet members were implicated in a massive graft probe, he responded by subjugating the judiciary and the media. The “temporary” state of emergency declared after last July 15 is still in effect. According to Amnesty International, one-third of all imprisoned journalists in the world are in Turkish prisons.
- Erdogan’s persecution of his people is not simply a domestic matter. The ongoing pursuit of civil society, journalists, academics and Kurds in Turkey is threatening the long-term stability of the country. The Turkish population already is strongly polarized on the AKP regime. A Turkey under a dictatorial regime, providing haven to violent radicals and pushing its Kurdish citizens into desperation, would be a nightmare for Middle East security.
- The people of Turkey need the support of their European allies and the United States to restore their democracy. Turkey initiated true multiparty elections in 1950 to join NATO. As a requirement of its membership, NATO can and should demand that Turkey honor its commitment to the alliance’s democratic norms.
- Two measures are critical to reversing the democratic regression in Turkey.
- First, a new civilian constitution should be drafted through a democratic process involving the input of all segments of society and that is on par with international legal and humanitarian norms, and drawing lessons from the success of long-term democracies in the West.
- Second, a school curriculum that emphasizes democratic and pluralistic values and encourages critical thinking must be developed. Every student must learn the importance of balancing state powers with individual rights, the separation of powers, judicial independence and press freedom, and the dangers of extreme nationalism, politicization of religion and veneration of the state or any leader.
- Before either of those things can happen, however, the Turkish government must stop the repression of its people and redress the rights of individuals who have been wronged by Erdogan without due process.
- I probably will not live to see Turkey become an exemplary democracy, but I pray that the downward authoritarian drift can be stopped before it is too late.
"Fethullah Gulen: The coronavirus changed how Ramadan looks. But it will not change our faith in God.", NBC News (April 24, 2020)
- The Muslim holy month of Ramadan will be different this year. Around the world, mosques will be closed, when they would normally have worshipers spilling out onto the street. Extended families will remain apart, when they would typically gather for Iftar to break the fast and share homemade treats. And shopping malls, cafes and streets will be eerily quiet, when they would normally come alive after dark.
- Ramadan still began on Thursday evening, though, and in the early hours on Friday morning, households gathered, as they have for centuries, to share a sleepy suhur — the pre-dawn meal.
- Even as the world grapples with COVID-19, the yearly rituals of Ramadan will continue. Throughout the holy month, most of the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims will fast between dawn and sunset, spend time in Quranic recitation, self-reflection and prayer in an effort to become closer to God, and give thanks for our blessings. But this year, the prescribed exceptions from fasting for young children, travelers, pregnant mothers and anyone who is sick will now be extended to those feeling symptoms of COVID-19.
- And this year, our prayers will include special emphasis on the health care workers, emergency workers and other essential employees who are on the front lines of the fight to protect our communities. In the eyes of God, saving human lives and benefitting humanity are most noble endeavors: The Quran likens saving a life to saving the whole of humanity, and the Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be God’s peace and blessings) says that the best of humans are those who benefit other humans.
- Our obligation to help and support those in need also takes on added meaning this year as our neighbors and communities face sickness, grief, economic hardship and the loneliness of self-isolation.
- Perhaps the most difficult obligation for many, though, will be forgoing the long-planned gatherings of the season, in order to comply with precautions issued by authorities. But following these measures is a duty of our citizenship and a necessity of our social responsibility to respect God’s laws in the universe. For instance, the Prophet Muhammad — whose belief and trust in God was beyond description — even advised quarantining a town in the event of an infectious disease.
- Each of us should take the extra time and space afforded by the pandemic's social distancing measures as an opportunity for further examination of our connection with God, our families and our core values. This time offers a mandatory retreat from the busy nature of our daily lives and a chance to turn toward God, deepening our faith, knowledge and practice. I hope that imams will offer reminders about these opportunities to their congregations.
- This period also forces us to rely on the internet and the technologies built upon it. Our young generations have been well-versed in these technologies ahead of their parents. Throughout history, messengers of God and those who strive for the enlightenment of humanity always used the available cultural tools and practices to spread their messages. We also must take this time to connect with our communities in new ways, including making our spiritual resources accessible to younger generations using their language and their familiar technologies.
- The challenges of responding to the pandemic and altering our lives might push some of us to seek people to blame or to criticize. As we enter Ramadan, it is paramount that we devote ourselves to helping those in need, rather than finding others to blame. Even as people, groups or nations with whom we have had past differences may be suffering, each of us must reject as inhumane the thought that anyone deserved a calamity.
Quotes about Gülen
Michael T. Flynn, Our ally Turkey is in crisis and needs our support (2016)
- The primary bone of contention between the U.S. and Turkey is Fethullah Gülen, a shady Islamic mullah residing in Pennsylvania whom former President Clinton once called his “friend” in a well circulated video.
- Gülen portrays himself as a moderate, but he is in fact a radical Islamist. He has publicly boasted about his “soldiers” waiting for his orders to do whatever he directs them to do. If he were in reality a moderate, he would not be in exile, nor would he excite the animus of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his government.
- For those of us who have closely studied the careers of Seyed Qutb and Hasan al Bana, the founders and followers of the Muslim Brotherhood, Gülen’s words and activities are very familiar.
- Gülen’s vast global network has all the right markings to fit the description of a dangerous sleeper terror network. From Turkey’s point of view, Washington is harboring Turkey’s Osama bin Laden.
- Voices of concern about this shady character are quickly muffled by his vast network of public relations and legal professionals. He has established a false façade that he is a moderate at odds with Turkey’s autocratic leader.
- The forces of radical Islam derive their ideology from radical clerics like Gülen, who is running a scam. We should not provide him safe haven. In this crisis, it is imperative that we remember who our real friends are.