Commenting on the upcoming presidential elections on Sunday, Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen has urged Turks not to cast their vote for a candidate who oppresses citizens, does injustice to them and disregards the rule of law.
“Vote for anybody you like. But do not vote for an oppressor, or for anybody who does injustice to the nation, or those who disregard law and order or those who replace the law with arbitrariness,” he explained.
The Muslim scholar who has inspired the faith-based social movement called Hizmet, which is active in education, social work and interfaith/intercultural dialogue across the world, seemed to have been suggesting that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who has increasingly polarized Turks, abused the criminal justice system and effectively suspended the rule of law in Turkey does not fit the description he drew for a candidate that ought to be supported.
Although he said people can vote for any of the three candidates as they wish, he asked them to ponder carefully and think about the future of Turkey. He did not say who he will support in the presidential election, but his description of his favored candidate seemed to rule out Erdoğan completely.
In remarks broadcast on Herkul.org, a site that communicates his messages, Gülen emphasized the presidential election will be crucial for Turkey's future orientation.
“Turkey has been heading to become a strange country which has no friends left around its neighborhood and that is engulfed in a web of problems,” he said, asking Turkish authorities to repair ties with Egypt, Syria, Iraq and other countries.
He also said Turkey needs to mend ties with the European Union as well as other non-EU member European states and rejuvenate its ties with NATO.
Gülen said a wrong preference in the presidential election may further polarize and divide Turkish society, stressing that everybody must be embraced in Turkey. Otherwise, he warned, Turkey will be isolated in its own region.
He stressed that he never endorsed any political party openly before with the exception of the constitutional reform package on strengthening fundamental rights that was presented to a public vote on Sept. 12, 2010. Calling it a EU-backed reform package that contained amendments critical for the future of Turkey, Gülen then called on the public to vote “yes” in the referendum.
He reiterated at the time that political concerns should be put aside when deciding on the changes and the package should be evaluated from the perspective of “what it would bring to the nation.”
“There are crucial changes in that package for the future of our nation. The package should be supported from this perspective and ‘yes' votes should be cast with such an intention,” Gülen reportedly said of the referendum.
Gülen underlined, however, at the time that his appeal for “yes” votes in the referendum did not indicate any partiality on his part for a certain political party. “We are still at an equal distance from every party. Being distant does not prevent us from voting in favor of someone on issues that we find correct for the fate of our nation,” he stated.
Reflecting on Thursday on his call for support in the referendum, Gülen said he may very well have been deceived as one of his close friends suggested to him recently. But he said a true Muslim may be deceived but can never deceive anybody according to the value system taught by the Islamic prophet.
Gülen noted that voters should look at candidates very carefully and choose the one that does not lie, break promises, betray the trust of the nation or oppress his own people. All these negative traits are found in the character of hypocrites according to the teachings of the Islamic prophet, Gülen explained.
He urged his followers not to cast their vote for a candidate that displays these characteristics of a hypocrite. He made it clear that he believes the Turkish nation has common sense.
Published on Cihan, 07 August 2014, Thursday