Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen has warned against the dire consequences of Turkey's possible involvement in a war in Syria or Iraq, saying Turkish authorities should avoid any action that may cause the Turkish people to experience sorrows similar to those of World War I.
In a speech published on Oct. 4 on herkul.org, a website that publishes his speeches, Gülen said those who are working to turn Turkey into an intelligence state -- in a clear reference to the government of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) -- should not be overcome by aspirations to make Turkey enter a war “here and there,” referring to Syria and Iraq, and make people experience a disaster similar to World War I.
“My wish from God is that they [government officials] do not enter a war here and there and make the people [of Turkey] experience a new World War I as did the Committee of Union and Progress [İttihat ve Terakki Cemiyeti, which is accused of dragging the Ottoman Empire into World War I] after they [the committee] were overcome by their aspirations and made the Devlet-i Aliye [the Ottoman Empire] victim of an adventure,” Gülen said.
Gülen's speech has come at a time when Parliament voted in a motion to grant unlimited powers to the government for one year to send troops abroad and allow foreign forces to use Turkish territory for possible military operations against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The motion led to serious concerns that Turkey may be involved in the military campaign against ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
“They [the Committee of Union and Progress] finished [destroyed] an enormous [Ottoman] state [by making it enter World War I]. … They sacrificed that state. I hope they will not do the same for its remainder [the Republic of Turkey], its children, grandchildren and future generations. Otherwise, this [Turkish] nation will not recover,” Gülen noted.
The scholar also mentioned an ongoing campaign led by the AK Party government against the faith-based Hizmet movement, which is inspired by Gülen, and called on members of the movement to “keep walking on their path.” “The path you are walking is right. Do not deviate [from your path]. Keep walking that path. Because you are living to make others live,” he said. He also called on the Hizmet movement to reach out to all parts of the world and open schools, soup kitchens for the poor and hospitals.
The Hizmet movement promotes interfaith dialogue and the resolution of problems through peaceful means throughout the world. However, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the AK Party have recently been engaged in a bitter fight with the movement. This conflict intensified after Dec. 17, 2013. Erdoğan claims that a Dec. 17 corruption and bribery operation was orchestrated by the Hizmet movement with the intention of overthrowing his government; however, he has not provided any evidence to prove this claim and the movement denies the accusation.
“Your services [to humanity] are like a running river. You cannot separate a river from its mother: the sea. The river will absolutely unite with the sea. If they cut your path from the right, you will continue walking from the left side [of the path]. If they cut your path from the left, then you will continue walking on top. If they place a rock before you, you will dig a tunnel and continue to walk,” Gülen said, noting that the Hizmet movement continues its activities both in Turkey and abroad despite all challenges in front of it.
Gülen also said the Turkish government's recent decision to remove the “public interest organization” status of Kimse Yok Mu, the largest volunteer group based in Turkey that has ties to the Hizmet movement, has boosted people's willingness to send aid to those in need through the organization. “It was possible to send sacrificial animals [to those in need through Kimse Yok Mu] last year. I suppose the number of sacrificial animals sent this year [through Kimse Yok Mu] has doubled,” he noted.
Published on Today's Zaman, 07 October 2014, Tuesday