Fethullah Gulen: I Condemn All Threats to Turkey’s Democracy

Fethullah Gulen, the Honorary President of Dialogue Platform has written an Op-Ed on the New York Times on his condemnation of the recent military coup attempt in Turkey.

To access the article online, please click here.

SAYLORSBURG, Pa. – 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 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. 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 is an Islamic scholar, preacher and social advocate.

Dialogue Platform’s Statements on Developments in Turkey

Press Release

Brussels , 15 July 2016

Dialogue Platform’s Statement on Developments in Turkey

Our Honorary President Fethullah Gulen has consistently advocated for democracy and insisted “there is no return from the democracy” at every stage of his life.

Hizmet participants have always denounced the military interventions and demonstrated the attitude for the peaceful coexistence, freedom and democracy. Thus, Dialogue Platform strongly condemns any attempt to throw an elected government by military coup.

We have always supported development of Turkey’s democracy and its membership to European Union despite of the increasing anti-democratic practices in recent years.

President Erdogan and his close circles’ blame on the Hizmet Movement is very irresponsible and concerning.

We hope that Turkey will overcome these difficult days and take this sad incident as an opportunity to strengthen its democracy.

Press Release

Brussels , 17 July 2016

Dialogue Platform’s Response to Aftermath of Coup Attempt in Turkey

Our honorary president Mr. Fethullah Gülen who has been accused of engineering the failed coup attempt has called for an impartial, independent international investigation on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s allegations that his followers have been involved in the failed coup. He declared he is ready for any independent investigation if he or his followers have any link with the coup attempt in Turkey. You can watch the full statement at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acYkhO5RKAw.

Mr. Gulen condemned the coup attempt just after a few hours and said in a personal statement “as someone who suffered under multiple military coups during the past five decades, it is especially insulting to be accused of having any link to such an attempt. I categorically deny such accusations.”

Furthermore, Hizmet affiliated individuals and institutions in several European countries are facing threats, hatred messages and attacks for the last two days. Dialogue Platform is deeply concerned that irresponsible messages and baseless accusations against the Hizmet Movement will cause more polarisation and hatred in Europe which may lead to further unrest.

Communiqué de presse

Bruxelles, 15 Juillet 2016

Déclaration de la Plateforme de Dialogue sur les évènements en Turquie

Notre Président honoraire Fethullah Gulen a constamment défendu les valeurs de la démocratie et a insisté à chaque étape de sa vie sur le fait qu’il “ne peut y avoir de retour en arrière de la démocratie”. Les participants du mouvement Hizmet ont toujours dénoncé les interventions militaires et agi pour la coexistence pacifique, la liberté et la démocratie.

Par conséquent, la Plateforme de Dialogue condamne fermement toute tentative de renverser un gouvernement élu par le biais d’un coup d’État. Nous avons toujours soutenu le développement de la démocratie en Turquie et son adhésion à l’Union Européenne, malgré l’augmentation des pratiques non-démocratiques ces dernières années. Les accusations du Président Erdogan et de ses cercles proches à l’égard du Mouvement Hizmet sont très irresponsables et inquiétantes.

Nous espérons que la Turquie surmontera ces jours difficiles et que ces évènements tragiques puissent devenir une opportunité pour renforcer la démocratie.

A propos de la Plateforme de Dialogue

La Plateforme de Dialogue est une association sans but lucratif basée à Bruxelles qui sert de porte-parole pour les institutions de Dialogue affiliées au mouvement Hizmet (aussi connu sous le nom de mouvement Gülen) en Europe. La Plateforme de Dialogue sert également de source d’information concernant le mouvement Hizmet et Fethullah Gülen qui est le président honoraire de la plateforme. Pour de plus amples informations, veuillez consulter www.dialoguepatlform.eu

A propos de Fethullah Gülen

Fethullah Gülen est un intellectuel musulman, prédicateur et acteur de la défense des intérêts sociaux dont la dévotion depuis des dizaines d’années au dialogue interculturel, à la tolérance et l’altruisme ont inspiré des millions de personnes en Turquie et à travers le monde. Il est le président honoraire de la Plateforme de Dialogue Interculturel (Bruxelles), du Rumi Forum (Washington DC) et de la Fondation des Journalistes et Ecrivains (Istanbul).


Brussel, 15 juli 2016

Verklaring van het Dialoog Platform inzake de ontwikkelingen in Turkije

Onze erevoorzitter Fethullah Gülen heeft altijd gepleit voor democratie en hield aan dat “er geen terugweg is van democratie” gedurende zijn hele leven.

Volgers van de Hizmetbeweging hebben steeds militaire interventies afgekeurd en hebben een houding aangenomen die blijk geeft van zin voor samenleven in vrede, vrijheid en democratie. Ook nu veroordeelt het Dialoog Platform de poging tot een staatsgreep door het leger.

We hebben steeds de ontwikkeling van de democratie in Turkije en haar lidmaatschap aan de Europese Unie gesteund, ondanks het stijgen van ondemocratische praktijken in de laatste jaren.

De beschuldigingen jegens de Hizmetbeweging door president Erdogan en zijn naaste kringen zijn onverantwoordelijk en zorgwekkend.

We hopen dat Turkije deze moeilijke dagen te boven zal komen en dat deze droevige gebeurtenis een gelegenheid zal zijn voor het versterken van de democratie.

Over het Dialoog Platform

Het Dialoog Platform is een vereniging zonder winstoogmerk, gelegen in Brussel, die de Europese dialooginstellingen gelinkt aan de Hizmetbeweging (ook Gülenbeweging) vertegenwoordigt. Het Platform fungeert ook als een centrale informatiekanaal van de beweging en van Fethullah Gülen, die de erevoorzitter is. Meer informatie vindt u terug opwww.dialogueplatform.eu

Over Fethullah Gülen

Fethullah Gülen is een moslimintellectueel en sociale pleitbezorger, wiens decennialange inzet op gebied van interreligieuze verdraagzaamheid en altruïsme miljoenen heeft geïnspireerd in Turkije en de hele wereld. Gülen is de erevoorzitter van het Interculturele Dialoog Platform in Brussel, het Rumi Forum in Washington DC en de Stichting voor Journalisten en Schrijvers in Istanboel.