November 12, 2014

Gülen says never considered establishing political party

Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen has reiterated that he has never thought of establishing a political party, saying that the Hizmet movement has never had organic relations with a political group.

“We have never considered establishing a party. This was out of question, even for the youngest member of this movement,” Gülen said in his latest speech broadcast on -- a website that usually publishes Gülen's speeches -- as he responded to allegations that a recently founded political party has links with Hizmet.

“We do not have a party. We do not have and never had a link with a party. One can have such a desire [to establish a party] while he is young. But would you have a tendency for something that you turned down when it came very close to you, now at over 70? I have not lost my senses,” Gülen said.

His remarks followed a similar one from the Journalists and Writers Foundation (GYV), whose honorary chairman is Gülen. It said in a statement posted online last week that it is impossible for a civil society movement that is supported by millions of volunteers from various political views to form or make someone form a political party. “This claim, which is frequently and intentionally brought to the agenda, is just a big lie,” the GYV statement said.

The statements are in response to claims frequently put forward by pro-government circles in Turkey that Hizmet is forming a new party. These claims were brought to the agenda again after an independent deputy who resigned from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) late last year formed a new political party.

Kütahya deputy İdris Bal established the Democratic Development Party (DGP) after filing a petition at the Interior Ministry. Speaking at a press conference while promoting his party, Bal denied claims that he decided to form the party after having talks with Gülen.

The Hizmet movement, whose members follow the principles of Gülen, is known for its cultural and educational activities in Turkey and around the world along with its efforts to promote intercultural and interfaith activities.

According to Gülen, the movement can be interested in politics in a certain way. Stating that members of the movement evaluate political parties in accordance with their respect for universal values and democracy as well as having good relations with neighbors, he said that anyone who has not lost his senses would vote for a party that supports these ideals. “There is no need for preaching either. Nobody has preached anyone [to vote for a certain party] on this issue either,” he said.

“They went from door to door in the past. They spoke of universal human values. They spoke of democracy. They spoke of positive relations with our environment. They spoke of making friends, etc. These people [from Hizmet] may have voted for them hoping they would do these things,” Gülen said, explaining the support of members of Hizmet for certain political parties in the past, including the ruling AK Party.

Published on Today's Zaman, 12 November 2014, Wednesday