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New Yorker Magazine’s Article Raises Questions about Its Journalistic Objectivity and Impartiality

New York, NY – March 6, 2012 – The Rumi Forum would like to express its disappointment with the lack of due attention to the journalistic objectivity and impartiality in the article titled “Letter from Turkey: the Deep State”, authored by Dexter Filkins in the March 2012 issue of the New Yorker Magazine. The article makes unsubstantiated allegations and false accusations about the Rumi Forum’s Honorary President Mr. Fethullah Gulen, and the worldwide civic movement he has inspired.

The article extensively uses unverified and misleading information about Mr. Gulen’s thought and work, and quotes almost exclusively from individuals who apparently vary from antagonistic to hostile towards Mr. Gulen. One would expect from an award-winning journalist like Mr. Filkin a rather more objective reporting both on Turkey’s democratization and on the opinion leaders, one of whom is certainly Mr. Fethullah Gulen. Similarly, we hope that the New Yorker Magazine’s editorial board would be considerate enough to ensure that its distinguished readers hear the other side of the story. Otherwise, the Magazine would inadvertently become part of a defamation campaign, which has apparently been waged by some marginalized groups against Mr. Gulen and millions of people who appreciate his thoughts and work.

We would like to take this opportunity to correct some of the false information presented in Mr. Filkin’s article. First of all, Mr. Gulen is not “a Muslim preacher who oversees a worldwide religious and educational organization”. He is a Muslim scholar and prolific writer, who lives in a self-exile in Pennsylvania, and whose thoughts have inspired millions of men, women and children to promote multicultural understanding and respect for others. Second, Mr. Gulen has never advised his audience to “infiltrate or control the police forces” or any other state institution. He has rather publicly encouraged every Turkish citizen to aspire to take his or her lawful place in running the state and society; as such he has been an ardent supporter of expanding civil society in Turkey. Mr. Gulen has repeatedly stated that he has no ambition to seek political power and in his more than sixteen thousand page print and hundreds of hours long audio visual discourse there is no trace of such rhetoric. Mr. Gulen has won hundreds of libel and slander cases in Turkey against such claims in Turkey as the courts found no evidence to substantiate them.

Third, Mr. Gulen is not “reviled and feared by much of Turkey’s population”. On the quite contrary, according to the poll carried out by American University professor Akbar Ahmed, 84 percent of Turkish people have favorable opinion of Mr. Gulen. Moreover, in addition to many recognitions and awards he has received from various governments as well as organizations across the world, the East West Institute of New York has also honored Mr. Gulen with its 2011 EWI Peacebuilding Award for his contribution to world peace. Finally, the ongoing judicial investigation into the alleged Ergenekon terror network in Turkey is not run by the so-called “Gulenists” as Mr. Filkin portrays. It is run rather by the independent prosecutors and judges, whose role and authority are defined by the constitution. However, it is observed that some of those detained in the course of the investigation have accused Mr. Gulen of being behind their arrests.

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