Quoting from his book, Ecevit pointed out to Gülen: "In your books you indicate that there is no room for doubt in religion and that belief takes precedence. However, for there to be progress in science, there is a constant need for doubt." Gülen shared the same observation.
Ecevit also indicates that Gülen and his followers are very beneficial for democracy's development.
Gülen has another important characteristic. With donations from people close to him, they are opening private schools at a fast pace, especially in the Central Asian Turkic republics. Today 186 high schools and their equivalents have been opened there, and there are another 130 in Turkey. These schools provide a high level of science education. For example, a student from Izmir Yamanlar College was chosen as the world physics champion. This success earned him a scholarship from NASA in America. These schools do not operate like Qur'an courses, as some have claimed. I personally visited two of themin Turkey. They have very modern biology, physics, chemistry, and computer laboratories. Very serious education is being given. The students' dress is no different from that of students at Robert College. The schools in Central Asia are said to be similar. And, the best schools in these countries are those established by those near to Gülen.
This undertaking also made Ecevit very happy. Ecevit said: "I asked my friends. These schools are very good schools. According to information I have received, they are increasing Turkey's influence in the Turkic republics at the expense of Iran and Saudi Arabia." We need tolerance and agreement in the world of belief, politics, and science. I consider Gülen's undertakings very successful steps toward agreement and unity in society. [Meric Koyatasi, (columnist), Aksam, 6/18/95]
Yes to Consultation, No to Fatwa
by Ertugrul Ozkok
The meeting held in the Prime Minister's residence two weeks ago Thursday didn't surprise me. I've known for a long time that Prime Minister Tansu Çiller has been in need of this kind of expanding her relations. Fethullah Gülen first attracted my attention at the beginning of the 1990's at the time of the "Headscarf issue." I remember very clearly. At that time I had just come to the position of Hurriyet newspaper's General Editor. Turkey was experiencing a clash regarding whether or not the headscarf would be free.
The atmosphere was extremely strained. As the General Editor of Turkey's most influential newspaper, I was asking myself the question of how this tension could be decreased.
Mitigation of the War
Just at that time I realized that a segment of the circles that advocated freedom for women to wear a headscarf had suddenly entered a period of silence.
Those circles began to follow a milder policy because of the tension in society created by the headscarf issue. When I investigated the reason for this, I found this answer.
Fethullah Hodja had begun to take a stance to prevent the society from being drawn into civil war because of the headscarf issue. Later when I talked with these circles, they said that Fethullah Hodja's moderate policy had been very effective in the prevention of further tension.
Now four years have passed. And I'm asking myself: "Would it be bad if people like Fethullah Gülen intervened in other issues that divide the society with messages of moderation? [Hurriyet 12/14/94]
It's Beneficial to Learn
by Tamer Korkmaz
Taking Fethullah Gülen Hodjaefendi's name as a starting point and calling a segment of devout Muslims "Fethullahçilar" (followers of Fethullah) goes back to an edition of the Hurriyet newspaper In1986. During the days of July 18-19, 1986, this newspaper published an edition full of extremely big mistakes and slander regarding Fethullah Gülen Hodjaefendi. In news full of falsehoods from beginning to end, including his age, his ideas and marital status, the word "Fethullahçilar" was used for the first time. (Çetin Emeç, general editor of the newspaper at that time, was the writer of the first news that I mentioned.) During the 1989 headscarf conflict, Çetin Emeç pointed out the warnings Fethullah Gülen Hodjaefendi made in one of his sermons. Towards the end of November, 1989, he praised Hodjaefendi in an article as "a foremost name in sermons on unity." In short, terms like "Fethullahçilar" and "Fethullahçilik" are names produced by the Hurriyet's power of imagination and that don't actually exist. Regarding the Çiller-Fethullah Hodjaefendi meeting, political scientist Nur Vergin commented: "...If Turkey is a democracy, those making politics in this country and especially those in the position of running the country of course are in a position to please the hearts of millions of citizens and ask their ideas...." [Zaman 12/17/94]
Religion and Politics
by Yavuz Donat
Tariqas are a reality of Turkey. They existed yesterday, they exist today and they'll exist tomorrow.
Those involved in politics in the center right know this fact, and while establishing internal party balances they don't neglect this reality.
Seeing this as a concession is misleading.
The word reconciliation is perhaps more appropriate.
After September 12, 1980, pressure was put on tariqas. Leader of the Suleymanci community, Kemal Kaçar, was arrested. Professor Muammer Aksoy acted as Kaçar's lawyer. Encountering slot of criticism during that period, Muammer Aksoy said, "Making politics while closing one's eyes to the reality of the tariqas is misleading."
Turkey is a laic republic. However, if the big political parties don't take into consideration "certain balances" and don't hold the conservative masses within their organizations, then with certainly the "extremes" will gain strength.
ozal and Demirel acted politically with awareness of this reality. In the 1970's when the left's vote was climbing to 42%, Ecevit was careful not to fight with religion... There were parliamentarians with strong religious roots in his cadre. (For example, Lutfu Dogan)America also knows "this reality."
In the 1960's there were members of the Peace Corps in our country. This organization, which was financed by America, attempted to make a public survey in 462 villages.
Let's look at a few examples from the questionnaire form:
Is there a mausoleum or entombed saint that the people visit near your village?
How many influential sheiks are there in the village and neighboring villages?
How closely tied to religion are the village people?
Do young people under the age of 18 fast.
Does the "aga" (local landlord), "kaymakam" (district official), "muhtar" (local official) or teacher assist you with religious matters.
How frequently are official sermons given in your village?
Are there any non-Muslims in your village?
How many males go to the mosque every day?
Do beneficial ideas come from the imam, the "aga" or another eminent person?
Do women in your village go to the imam's wife or the teacher's wife for advice?
Our political parties aren't curious enough about the Turkish village and villagers to make the survey that the Americans made. [Milliyet 12/14/94]
A Confused Duck Dives in Bottom First
by Oktay Eksi
A "Fethullah Hodja" crisis has arisen in the CHP recently.
As is known, during the recent days of the Religious "Bayram" (Festive Day) of Sacrifice a man of religion named Fethullah Gülen—perhaps there is a quite broad segment that respects him—wanted to visit the Deputy Prime Minister, CHP General Chairman Hikmet Cetin in his home. Gülen wish to make a call of congratulations for the "Bayram." Cetin accepted and they talked.
Did Fethullah Hodja make a request from Hikmet Çetin in their meeting?
No, it's understood from what both parties said that not even the first letter of the word "politics" was pronounced. As a matter of fact, Fethullah Hodja's statement was published in yesterday's newspapers. With a soundly knit logic he said, "My meeting with the political leaders and members of the administration, who hold in their hands the fate of this state and this nation—which I know to be a part of my own destiny—was regarded as strange by some. I have to admit that I have difficulty reconciling this with the attribute, position and level of by these circles."
The man says: I'm a citizen of this country and a retired official of this government. What's wrong with Furthermore, the request to meet came from him. Moreover, he was careful enough to choose a religious holiday for this visit, which provides an opportunity for everyone who wants to extend good wishes to another to do so.
What's wrong with it?
Would those who criticized Hikmet Cetin have been able to refuse a request for a visit, not from Fethullah Gülen, but from someone who said, "I want to visit you," even if that person had been involved in events that were a disgrace to his society, his family and mankind?
If they refused, wouldn't they fall to a lower position than the other person?
Even if those who have ridiculed for years warnings about laicism now show this sensitivity in the name of laicism, let them know that they're knocking on the wrong door at the wrong place and at the wrong time. [Hurriyet]
Bulent Ecevit and Fethullah Gülen Draw Closer to Each Other
by Ismet Solak
An important interview made by Eyup Can with Fethullah Gülen began appearing last Sunday in the Zaman newspaper. Prior to this, Fethullah Gülen had answered Nuriye Akman's comprehensive questions in the Sabah newspaper.
Those reading Nuriye Akman's interview saw an interesting portrait of Fethullah Gülen. One of those who thought that he was faced with a different human being was Bulent Ecevit, General Chairman of the DSP. Ecevit stated several times previously that he had followed the interview in the Sabah newspaper and that he at least found Fethullah Gülen "interesting." Some time earlier Ecevit also talked with Gülen. According to information at hand, this meeting occurred in the form of a meeting between two intellectuals interested in poetry and intellectual issues rather than as a political meeting. Ecevit gave Gülen his poetry book and translations he made from the famous Indian poet Tagore.
Ecevit, who had become personally interested in Fethullah Gülen through Nuriye Akman's interview published in Sabah and who had met with Gülen, read Eyup Can's interview that appeared in Zaman all last week and this time he felt close to Fethullah Gülen in regard to his ideas.
Bulent Ecevit, who made a speech Friday evening at the Dedeman Hotel at a meeting regarding foreign affairs held by the "Association for Solidarity in Business Life," frequently made references to the interview made with Gülen. He stated that he "wholeheartedly shared" some of Fethullah Gülen's ideas. Actually the feeling were mutual. While Fethullah Gülen didn't mention any other politician's name in the interview, he mentioned Bulent Ecevit's name twice regarding two different matters. [Hurriyet]
What did Gülen say?
Fethullah Gülen, who is referred to respectfully as "Hodjaefendi" by his community and sometimes in a derogatory manner only as "Hodja" in other circles, said essentially seven things in his interview that appeared last week in the Zaman newspaper:There is no place for dogma in Islam. It is a progressive religion.Just as there are "fanatics" or dogmatists in Islam, there are "Laik fanatics" in the laic segments of society (here he quotes from Ecevit). These two segments which are not broad-minded enough could change Turkey into another Algiers.
Breaking relations with America would leave Turkey isolated.Due to the misunderstanding of Imam Ghazali's views, Islam became removed from positive science, and this hindered Islam's rise.
Moving away from the positive sciences lowered the Islamic educational institution of the madrassa which then taught only religion and religious subjects to a less beneficial position. On the other hand, the maktap (public school), a Western and laic educational institution, taught the positive sciences, but it ignored religious education.Together with being controversial, the term "Turkish Islam" goes back to Ahmet Yasawi. We owe our current Muslim culture to the Central Asia.Fethullah Gülen's ideas and activities inside Turkey are also interesting. In Gülen's broad statement, which I have tried to summarize above, he clearly takes a stand against the RP in a totally unexpected way. Speaking in abstract terms without giving names of people and institutions, still he expresses his opposition to the RP by giving its name. He also approves the Customs Union. In the domestic Turkish policy in which all of the rocks were displaced by the events of September 12th , which experienced a big earthquake as a result of Turgut ozal's striking ideas and applications, and which was severely shaken by the collapse of the Soviet Union, the stones are slowing settling down. In this settling process the ideas of the "most laic" Bulent Ecevit regarding laicism or Central Asia are very compatible with Fethullah Gülen.