An elderly man approached me as I was walking out of the mosque. He recognized me; apparently, he wanted to tell me something. He said, “I have been voting for these people for almost two decades; but I now feel disappointed.” I tried to calm him down, but he continued, “Who has the right to insult an Islamic scholar so arrogantly?” He was about to burst into tears. He was not in the mood to hear me out.
What this man whom I saw at the mosque was feeling was similar to what a relative of mine who stayed over at my home recently was feeling. The 85-year-old man said, “I used to pray for the prime minister every day; now I feel betrayed by his insults.” I experienced a similar sentiment at a recent ceremony I attended. A bright businessman who approached me in a huge crowd told me that it is really outrageous to insult a scholar who inspires millions of people. He was right. You may become mad at someone; but you cannot insult him arguing that he is a phony scholar.
Those who do not recognize any boundaries when hurling insults went even further, arguing that Fethullah Gülen is the leader of a clandestine organization. This is a great shame. Well, you said in the past that you respect him a lot and asked him to pray for you. You applauded his universal service and asked him in public to return home. Everyone who has not sacrificed their conscience and mind to partisanship is now in pain because of blackmailing and threats. They are sad because such grave accusations are not proper for those who make them. Even if someone makes a mistake, others should do something and remind him of the boundaries and manners.
There is apparently something that goes beyond this insult: Preparations are being made to create the grounds for accusations of a gang or terrorist organization, which has been tried many times before. Is it not possible for a criminal complaint to not be filed against a certain group of people if the prime minister of the country accuses them every day? There is now pressure on the judiciary. The state mechanism is being used to carry out the darkest propaganda in the world. Obviously, there is no concrete criminal act. But it appears that orders are being directed at officers in the police and the judiciary to fabricate a crime. Therefore, everyone should know that no legal action from now on would mean something: What it would mean is that such action would constitute an act of repression.
This is really sad; a separatist parallel organization in a region of this country runs ID check; it collects taxes and issues punishments, but the prime minister of this country says no word about it. He has only one agenda: the Hizmet movement. The prime minister, who threatens the movement 10 times a day, every day, fails to see the arms and militants of this parallel organization; he does not make even a single reference to the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK). What conscience would accept this? Photos of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan are publicly displayed on billboards. Neither the prime minister nor Justice and Development Party (AK Party) officials show any reaction. You are not bothered by the photos and posters of a man responsible for the deaths of 30,000 people, a man who was sentenced to life imprisonment, but you direct grave accusations at Gülen, who had been tried for eight years in a court of law before being acquitted of all charges. For God’s sake, tell me who would accept such brutality.
I do not know if the AK Party is losing votes, but I can say that this party is losing its conscience.
The PKK provokes people by using the anniversary of Öcalan’s arrest. The prime minister prefers to remain silent on this matter. But he insults Hizmet every day. The PKK says it will declare autonomy after the elections; but the prime minister still adopts a lenient approach. On the other hand, he uses harsh language against the movement. Why?
He accuses the prosecutors and police officers involved in the ongoing corruption probe of being part of a parallel structure and makes insulting remarks by referring to this issue. But did these police officers place seven steel safes in that house [the house of the son of former Minister Muammer Güler]? Did they hide TL 1 million in there? What is the relevance of your attempt to take the entire media hostage to the alleged parallel state? Villas, bribery, commissions, pools… Is it not shameful to avoid talking about these matters but instead blame innocent people?
It is shameful to threaten and insult Gülen. But it should be noted that Gülen has always been threatened and persecuted all the time; however, he survived. It is not possible to intimidate him and his followers by imaginative accusations. The history of the Hizmet movement confirms this.
He faced such attempts at persecution even when he was a young imam in Edirne. The plans of those who decided to throw him out from the upper floor of the police station failed. Some of those making bold accusations and insults now had not even been born yet back then; and some of them were children, playing football in the streets.
Gülen’s experience with persecution has never ended. He was one of those who paid a price following the military memorandum of 1971. He stayed in prison for months; but he never complained. Those who now think they are promoting their cause on social media cannot even imagine those days. He was included in the “most wanted” list by the mighty generals after the 1980 military coup. This lasted six years; he changed his place of residence during this period to escape their brutality. And in 1986, he was ambushed on a road in Burdur; the coup makers had planned an assassination; but this plan also failed. And the then Prime Minister Turgut Özal initiated a case which revealed that no criminal act had been committed that required prosecution. This was the end of the six years of persecution.
But he continued to suffer from similar attempts. Those who refer to the persecution during the Feb. 28  period cannot possibly know the dark days Gülen experienced in the past. Those who associate the Migration of the Prophet with escape have never understood Mecca and Medina. Take a look at the newspapers from that time. The so-called newspaper Sabah ran similar headlines and referred to a decision to execute Gülen. Is it possible for those who relied on the illegal accusations of the Feb. 28 prosecutor in 1997 to be considered Islamists? Those who present themselves as heroes after a brief stint in prison cannot possibly understand the persecution Gülen went through.
Look at the twist of fate: The “brothers” would do what the coup makers did not and the movement would be labeled an illegal organization. The plot unbelievers were unable to stage would be set up by “believers” and Gülen would be accused of being the leader of that organization. They think the conscience of the people will remain silent. And they think that persecution would rule forever. Those who do not hear what they say and those who do not blush despite the defamations they voice… I would say in advance that if you attempt to discredit or hurt Gülen, who is 76 years old, by accusing him of being the leader of a clandestine and illegal organization, history will keep a record of you and add your name to the list of Yazids and Hajjajs.
Maybe you have already forgotten history; let me give you a recent example you should be familiar with. You frequently describe Gen. Sisi as a coup maker in Egypt and accuse him of plotting against the Muslim Brotherhood to make sure that it is defined as a terrorist organization; if you implement your plans, your name will be added right next to Sisi because defining a group of people who have never hurt a single living thing a terrorist organization and insulting them is a proper definition of coup-making and this is the bottom line of persecution. This grave attitude against Gülen is neither the first nor the last. Throughout history, scholars and clerics were persecuted by brutal leaders; lies and accusations were fabricated against them; and they were even subjected to torture and exile.
Throughout history, the “religious victims” were persecuted by their fellow believers more gravely than they were by the unbelievers. Ungrounded accusations were directed against scholars and clerics in history all the time. The sad reality is that, when the instinct [desire] to rule and the lust to control the center of political activities comes to a certain point, the political actors perceive every social group as a potential threat to their existence and survival; as a result, they adopt harsh measures. There are many examples of this brutality. Some big names and figures were insulted and offended for nothing and they were persecuted. Looking at those pages of history, the people are experiencing déjà vu.