Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke before a crowd during the closing ceremony of the 10th Turkish Olympiads. (Photo: Today's Zaman)
Erdoğan, who spoke after he was granted with a special award by the organizing committee of the Olympiads, implied that Gülen, without directly mentioning his name, should return to Turkey as soon as possible from the US, where he is residing for nearly 13 years.
“We want this yearning to end,” he said, receiving a lengthy standing ovation from the crowd, in a rare blunt invitation to Gülen to return to his hometown Turkey. Erdoğan, in a reference to Gülen, said “we want to see those who are abroad and longing for the homeland among us.”
Responding to the lengthy applause, Erdoğan said he understands that the crowd also wants “this yearning to end.”
Gülen is a Turkish Islamic scholar well known for his teachings promoting mutual understanding and tolerance between cultures. Now residing in the US, Gülen has pioneered educational activities in a number of countries, along with efforts to promote intercultural and interfaith activities around the world.
He has also written nearly 60 books in Turkish, most of which have been translated into dozens of languages. He was most recently honored with the EastWest Institute's (EWI) 2011 EWI Peace Building Award for his contribution to world peace.
Gülen is in a self-exile in the US and there is no legal hurdle for him that prevents him from returning to Turkey. Shortly after he went to the US, in 2000, then-State Security Court (DGM) prosecutor Nuh Mete Yüksel launched a case against Gülen on charges of establishing an illegal organization. At the end of the eight-year case, he was acquitted. Upon appeal, the General Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals upheld the acquittal.
Published on Today's Zaman, 15 June 2012, Friday