Pocono Record Editorial
U.S. authorities should think long and hard before extraditing Fethullah Gülen, the reclusive Islamic cleric who lives in Saylorsburg, to Turkey. Gülen has done nothing visibly wrong, yet the government of Turkey, under chief finger-pointer President Recip Tayyip Erdogan, accuses Gülen of orchestrating the failed July 15 coup attempt in Turkey, and late last week a Turkish court issued a warrant for his arrest.
In a rare public appearance recently, Gülen stated he had nothing to do with the attempt. Nor has Erdogan provided any obvious evidence that Gülen or his movement were plotting anything. Gülen lives quietly in Ross Township, from where he directs a network of schools around the U.S. and the world. A recent Atlantic magazine article describes the Gülen movement as priding itself "on being a pacifist, internationalist, modern, and moderate alternative to more extreme derivations of Sunni Islam." Its schools emphasizes academics as opposed to the Islamic fundamentalism more common among madrassas, the schools created by the conservative Wahhabist movement based in Saudi Arabia. Wahhabist madrassas have been associated with Islamic terrorism, and are often blamed for teaching "death to the infidel." By contrast, Gülen's philosophy presents a peaceful version of Islam that promotes interfaith dialogue.
Meanwhile in Turkey, Erdogan, the country's democratically elected president, has encouraged an ever more overtly religious state in a NATO-member country that for decades was the most secular of Muslim nations. In the wake of the coup attempt, he's rounded up and jailed political opponents in every sector of society, not only police and members of the military, but ordinary citizens who "follow" Gülen, even judges. The state-run news agency Anadolu estimates nearly 70,000 Turks have been suspended or dismissed from their jobs.
Against such a backdrop, does anyone truly believe that Gülen could get a fair trial?
It will take much detailed research to determine whether to grant Erdogan's request that Gülen be extradited, followed by a lengthy legal procedure. U.S. officials should base such a move on only the most compelling evidence. Otherwise, they may be sending a lamb into a lion's den.
*Editor’s note: Hizmet Movement Blog reaffirms its non-endorsement policy of the various viewpoints expressed throughout the articles that are solely shared for the convenience of the readers.
Published on Pocono Record, 6 August 2016, Saturday