Egypt can offer a better model than the Ottoman Empire: Fethullah Gülen

Taha Sakr
4 Min Read
Turkish Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen at his residence in Saylorsburg, Penn., on Sept. 24, 2013. (AP Photo/Selahattin Sevi)

Prominent Egyptian journalist Nashat al-Dehi interviewed the Turkish opposition leader Fethullah Gülen, in his self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania. The conversation, aired on TEN channel on Saturday, focused on Gülen’s view on the strained relations between Egypt and Turkey, the latest developments in the Turkish political arena, and the role of political Islam in distorting the image of the religion.

Gülen, seen by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as his first enemy, began his conversation by talking about the strained relations between Egypt and Turkey. “I did not find any Egyptian official talking negatively about Turkey, but Erdogan started the hostilities after he described the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi as a pharaoh.”

Gülen sent a message to the Egyptian people, saying “the current course in the country is good, but I am following the situation from outside. I am not in a position to comment on local incidents. Erdogan and his party are exploiting the reputation they have inherited from their Ottoman history to influence the Muslim world. But Egypt can provide a better model for everyone, if they maintain balance; the Egyptian people are ancient and intelligent.”

“The Egyptian leadership has maturity, especially in the African continent and some countries of the Muslim world, if it continues on this path. The Egyptian people, as well as those who have not lost their humanity in Turkey, are able to achieve an intellectual balance,” he continued.

“Those in power in Turkey are not real Anatolians, but we have heard that they came from the north. They do not know the authentic principles and values ​​of Anatolia, and did not succeed in understanding those principles. They, instead, use religious slogans to ensure they remain in power,” Gülen claimed.

As for Gülen’s support to Erdogan at the beginning of their political career, Gülen said, “Yes, we were supporting them. Erdogan consulted me ​​in his political project, and I gave him a good advice, but once he came to power, he started targeting my movement, suspending our entities, although we do not allow alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, and other evil things. The truth is that he wanted us to submit to his own political agenda, but the movement refused to do so.”

Gülen also commented on the latest developments in the political scene in Turkey, the state of rivalry within the AKP and the waves of dissent that began with the resignation of former Deputy Prime Minister in charge of the economy Ali Babacan and former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, in opposition to Erdogan’s policies.

He stressed that Erdogan and his assistants controlling the Turkish regime and are unaware of politics. “They well served Islam and the Islamic world at first, but they used religious slogans and Islamic speeches to add a framework of legitimacy to their corruption,” Gülen claimed.

With regard to the controversial Turkish Constitution, which the opposition in Turkey is demanding to amend, he said, “Turkey should draft a constitution that respects all beliefs, and I advise them to study the US Constitution, which respects all communities and views.”

“The current Turkish Constitution is not suitable for the management of community affairs. Turkish society is made up of various ethnics, including Turks, Kurds, and Circassians, as well as various beliefs among Kemalists, atheists, Alawites, Sunnis, and others. They cannot be dealt as one, but their rights and beliefs must be respected,” Gülen concluded.

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