November 17, 2015

Islamic scholar Fethullah Gulen of Saylorsburg condemns Paris attacks

Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gulen condemned the terrorist attacks in Paris that claimed the lives of more than 125 people, calling everyone to join in rejecting the terrorism “without ifs and without buts.”

Gulen lives in Saylorsburg in exile from Turkey. His comments were made in a press release on his webpage.

“Once again, I strongly condemn all kinds of terrorist acts that are perpetrated by anyone and for whatever stated reason,” Gulen said, describing the attacks as an “inhuman massacre.”

The terrorist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has claimed responsibility for the attacks, which killed 129 people at various locations across Paris and which President François Hollande called an act of war against France.

“These terrorist acts have dealt the greatest blow to peace and tranquility and must be considered by everyone as unacceptable crimes that should be condemned without ‘buts,' without 'ifs' and without hiding behind any excuse,” Gulen said in the release.

The rest of the press release, as it appears on Gulen's website, follows:

“Terrorism is the foremost threat to human life, which is the most sacred and most universal value,” the Islamic scholar emphasized, adding that no religion, no idea and no viewpoint can be so corrupt as to approve such acts.

Recalling that Islam attaches the utmost regard to the sanctity of human life and citing the verse of the Quran that states “killing an innocent person unjustly is like killing all of mankind,” Gülen remarked that the protection of human life is one of the fundamental values in Islam.

“A true Muslim can never be a terrorist and a terrorist can never be a true Muslim,” he said, reiterating the famous remarks he made right after the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York on Sept. 11, 2001, by the al-Qaeda terrorist group.

According to the Islamic scholar, it is impossible for a Muslim who has fully learned and understood Islam to become a terrorist, and a real Muslim would never intentionally commit an act of terrorism and a terrorist cannot be considered a real Muslim.

This was not the first time Gulen has come out vocally against ISIL and other acts of terrorism perpetrated in the name of Islam.

Last year, he placed ads in leading US and European newspapers, including in France, to condemn the atrocities of ISIL against the background of the murders of Alan Henning, James Foley, Steven Sotloff, David Haines and Herve Gourdel by ISIL.

In the ads, which appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times and Le Monde, Gulen said ISIL's actions are a “disgrace to the faith they proclaim and crimes against humanity.”

Stating that religion provides a foundation upon which to establish peace, human rights, freedoms and the rule of law, Gülen emphasized that “any interpretations to the contrary, including the abuse of religion to fuel conflicts, are simply wrong and deceitful.”

Referring to other terrorist organizations that claim the name of Islam, Gulen said ISIL is not the first group to “use religious rhetoric to mask its cruelty” and mentioned al-Qaeda and Boko Haram, which have in common “a totalitarian mentality that denies human beings their dignity.”

Gulen, who is known for inspiring the grassroots Hizmet movement, also known as the Gulen movement, with his peaceful teachings, reiterated the incompatibility of Islam and violence. “Any form of violence against innocent civilians or persecution of minorities contradicts the principles of the Quran and the tradition of our Prophet (peace be upon him),” his message stated.

He also lambasted terrorist groups in 2013 after a deadly shooting and hostage crisis in a Nairobi mall in which more than 60 people were killed and church and mosque bombings in Iraq and Pakistan killing scores of civilians.

Gulen cited early Islamic scholar Abdullah ibn Abbas as saying that those who unfairly kill an innocent human will stay in hell forever and said terrorism is a crime the Quran threatens with the punishment of hell.

“Suicide bombers will go to hell forever and they will be called to account for the innocent people they killed,” he noted.

The scholar, a vocal critic of corruption in the government, became the target of a witch-hunt by the Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government in the aftermath of a major corruption investigation that implicated senior ministers as well as the family members of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Right after the corruption investigation went public with a wave of detentions on Dec. 17, 2013, Erdoğan accused police officers, judges and prosecutors of a “coup attempt” and claimed that they were linked to the Gülen movement, which he branded a “parallel state.” Gulen strongly denied his involvement in the investigation and the government has so far failed to present any evidence to back up its claims.

Since the corruption scandals, the Turkish Islamist government has been unsuccessfully trying to brand Gulen, who is also opposed to political Islam's manipulation of religion for political goals and personal enrichment, as a terrorist.

Published on Pocono Record, 16 November 2015, Monday