Turkey: The Fethullah Gulen community

memri July 07

The Fethullah Gulen community: This is the largest and strongest Islamist community in Turkey, as well as the most prominent representative of the Nur ("Light") movement of Said-i Nursi. It is led by Fethullah Gulen, or, as he is referred to by his community, Fethullah Gulen Hocaefendi, and according to media assessments, about 30 of the AKP candidates who have a good chance of being elected are Fethullah Gulen followers ...

The Fethullah movement is regarded as the most powerful and influential Islamist organization in Turkey, and has international outreach. Regarded as a semi-state within a state, this community has established hundreds of schools, in Turkey and in over 100 countries on five continents ...

Fethullah Gulen Indicted, Escapes To U.S.

In 1999, footage was aired on Turkish television of sermons delivered by Fethullah Gulen to a crowd of followers, in which he revealed his aspirations for an Islamist Turkey ruled by shari'a as well as the methods that should be used to attain that goal. In the sermons, he said:

"You must move in the arteries of the system, without anyone noticing your existence, until you reach all the power centers… until the conditions are ripe, they [the followers] must continue like this. If they do something prematurely, the world will crush our heads, and Muslims will suffer everywhere, like in the tragedies in Algeria, like in 1982 [in] Syria… like in the yearly disasters and tragedies in Egypt. The time is not yet right. You must wait for the time when you are complete, and conditions are ripe, until we can shoulder the entire world and carry it… You must wait until such time as you have gotten all the state power, until you have brought to your side all the power of the constitutional institutions in Turkey… Until that time, any step taken would be too early - like breaking an egg without waiting the full 40 days for it to hatch. It would be like killing the chick inside. The work to be done is [in] confronting the world. Now, I have expressed my feelings and thoughts to you all - in confidence… trusting your loyalty and sensitivity to secrecy. I know that when you leave here - [just] as you discard your empty juice boxes, you must discard the thoughts and feelings expressed here." ...

In yet another sermon, he said, "The philosophy of our service is that we open a house somewhere and, with the patience of a spider, we lay our web, to wait for people to get caught in the web; and we teach those who do. We don't lay the web to eat or consume them, but to show them the way to their resurrection, to blow life into their dead bodies and souls, to give them a life."
By the time this was aired, Gulen had already left the country for the U.S., supposedly for health reasons. A year later, in 2000, he was indicted in absentia for attempting to change Turkey's system of government and for "forming an illegal organization with the purpose of establishing an Islamist state." It was from there that he built his international Islamist community.

At a 2003 judicial hearing, it was decided to postpone Gulen's trial, subject to reprocessing if he was indicted again for a similar crime in the next five years. In May 2006, the AKP government modified the criminal code regarding acts of terror, and Gulen was acquitted.