A Turkish citizen spreads a message of love and coexistence from the US
Fethullah Gülen is a name that was discovered by the world media only recently. He and the vast education network operating throughout the world that sympathizes with his thoughts received the attention of Western intellectuals primarily because he was seen as the antithesis of radical Islam. Gülen, though, does not have a dialectic view of history and does not want to be labeled ‘anti’ anything.
Fethullah Gülen, the Turkish educator and spiritual leader, has lived in a bucolic retreat outside the small town of Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, since 1998. That was the location of a wide-ranging interview granted earlier this year to Brian Knowlton from the International Herald Tribune. The following text is based both on the interview and on questions submitted earlier to Mr. Gülen; the answers were translated from the Turkish by his assistants. Together they formed the basis of an article by Mr. Knowlton that appeared both in the International Herald Tribune and on the website of The New York Times.
Brian Knowlton: Mr. Gülen, although you are an influential citizen of Turkey, you have stayed on in the United States even after the arrival in Turkey of a presumably friendly government. Is this mainly for health reasons?
Fethullah Gülen: First of all, I must state that I have always been equally close to the representatives of all the political parties, and I have always shared my views that I thought beneficial with everyone. I have supported those who are respectful to our values and who give attention to the essence of the heart and spirit and at the same time have a message for the worldly and eternal longings of human beings. This is regardless of whatever party they happen to be in. Accordingly, it cannot be said that any one party is “close” and the other is “far”; I stand at an equal proximity to all of them. Along the same lines, when an incident happened to Mr. Deniz Baykal, I did not forget to my express my sympathies to him.
When it comes to my living in America, in 1997 I came here due to my health condition, and as soon as I was diagnosed and treated by the doctors here I returned to Turkey. In 1999, I had to come back to the US for further treatment. Later, I discovered that this country, especially the area where I live, is more serene and quiet in comparison to Turkey. I preferred to stay here because I found it to be more tranquil and thought it to be more convenient to see the doctors under whose care I remain.
In addition, in the US I hoped that I would not be disturbed or harmed by those who carry radical ideologies from Turkey, AFethullah Gülenhanistan, Pakistan or some other countries. I am America’s guest, and any such event would touch America’s reputation before anything else. I have always carried the idea that America would not sanction anyone laying a hand on someone living on its soil because she would take it as a personal insult to her reputation and honor.
And from this perspective, compared to other places, I feel more at peace here. Even though I have been invited to reside in other countries, I have chosen not to leave this country where I live in peace, especially this area where I have found so much quiet and serenity.
FULL INTERVIEW BELOW