Has Fethullah Gülen Organized a Secret Mob within the Security Department and Armed Forces of Turkey

"Army" and "soldier"; these are terms for which you have a respectful reference. What is the basis of this?

The Ottomans were a nation of soldiers. Some even could call this militarism. Such a nation starts and ends with the army, but as long as the hearts beat with rightfulness and justice there is nothing for people to worry about. Civil actions were never prevented nor were obstacles put in front of them. Our thoughts (of the army) are much more sacred. Bediuzzaman calls them the "Standard-Bearers." Malik ibn Nabi says, "If it was not for the Turkish nation in the north, the Islamic world would not exist today." This was, in one way, realized by the heroic soldiers with their horses, weapons, and shields. We regard and respect them as a soul, as a meaning, and a collective, spiritual personality (sahs-i manevi). They established rightfulness and justice, down to the finest points. Nevertheless, this fine level was not maintained during all periods. If such misuses are manipulated to defame this spiritual personality, a personality which an entire nation is so much indebted to, that would not be fair to the institution. Before a reform is put in practice, consultation should be made with those people who are each a candidate for martyrdom. Quite a high number of the soldiers are war veterans (ghazi), some among them having survived, but remaining crippled. In this respect, to be fair, we should admire the army, and care for this institution to the same degree that we stand opposed to any harm directed toward the state or to having its secrets disclosed.

What would you say about headlines like "... he was discharged from the army due to connections with the Gülen community" which appear from time to time?

This institution (the army) has certain conditions when admitting, as well as discharging, their staff. This needs to have a more lawful structure. Mr Suleyman Demirel (former president of Turkey) once said, "There are certain times which are times of tale-bearing." No one can be saved; those who are reported are gone. Someone may feel uneasy about another person, and this is sufficient to libel them as an "--ist," leading to their discharge. Does this --ist really exist? Anyone can be associated with anything; what needs to be done is for the existence of the --ists to be searched for in a genuine manner. There needs to be a scrupulous investigation to discover on what grounds a person was discharged and the law must decide this matter. Intelligence agencies must pursue those staff that were discharged to see if there were or are genuinely such connections.

Are there people in the army who admire you?

Some may do; I cannot say anything about this. I came across a retired military man who told me, "I used to listen to your sermons and had many of my higher and lower ranks to listen to them." I think many people from all occupations came to the sermons in the mosques and participated in the conferences. Perhaps there are a few people who have not listened to these sermons in Turkey; whether they were worth listening to is another issue. I told those people who listened to and recorded these sermons so many times that theirs was an action in vain. One of them said, "I am doing this not to gain your love; you speak and I record." What else could I say? I would call it to be a wrong conviction (about me). And it is not my duty to restore a wrong conviction.

Such associations are forged by some people in order to nurture grudges. I hope this institution (the army) can develop some reformations that will lead to them being able to attain more reliable results with the necessary investigations and assessments. Is the reason why these people were discharged that they violated discipline or disobeyed a command? We have recently heard of some people being discharged because they were involved in various misuses and thefts. However, these crimes are sometimes ignored; calling someone this or that --ist is a more serious event! This is the army, soldiers obey their commanders. There are no --ists among them.

Have you organized a secret mob within the Security Department and Armed Forces?

I don't know how I could possibly organize something like that while I am here. This matter needs to be investigated; who are the members of this mob? They should try to find this out. Once, they revealed a list of a so-called "mob within the Security Department." It was later concluded that the names on that list belonged to people who held completely opposing worldviews! Perhaps, some people again felt uneasy of others. They made a list of their own to earn credit for themselves and to defame others.

How can one organize within the army? These people in the army, they have officers commanding them who represent the Republic, secularism, and democracy. They would not allow any opportunity for such an organization to come into being. They would not tolerate such developments (even) in the attitudes, feelings, and thoughts of people. I find it difficult to understand such claims.

Have you ever instructed people around you to "capture these schools"?

Some time ago, I said publicly, at the pulpit of the mosques, "why only Qur'anic schools? Enroll your children in Imam-Hatips (a type of secondary schools where religious studies are taught to fulfill the need for religious staff)." Later I said, "Why do you send your children only to Imam-Hatips? Why not other schools too? Why not universities and military high schools and academies?" I said all of this; why am I being asked about something that I expressed publicly? Should I make an announcement in the press or on TV, saying "I once told you this and that, but that was a mistake; do not send your children to other schools. Enroll them only in Imam-Hatips and Qur'anic schools. Never even dream that your children can go to schools of law, courts of justice, or military academies. Let other people send their children, not you." I frankly expressed my views in the mosques and at conferences. And if some of the listeners have directed their children accordingly, I cannot say "I have changed my mind."

What were your expectations when you expressed these views in your sermons?

The people of Anatolia should be involved in all aspects of life. Why should they not be? What are they afraid of? They did not send their children to schools; they thought it was enough for them to study the Qur'an. There are still such people in the east, in the south-east. On TV, very recently, it was reported that a mayor of a town visited homes to encourage families to send their daughters to school and he was giving these girls a lift in his own car. This is what the state policy is. Once it was only Qur'anic schools, and then people started to question the excess number of Imam-Hatips and schools of theology. Why should there be only one kind of a school available, not others? Why cannot a citizen enroll his child in any Turkish school? I thought this was a duty to society and thus, expressed my views. If (some people think) that these views are wrong, then they should stand up and say that this is what they think.

Are we going to lose religion as a consequence of the EU-Turkey relationship?

Some people perceive the joining of Turkey into the EU as an invasion. The foreigners will come and invade our lands. If such thoughts arise from national concerns, we may argue that our national values have blended with our soul to the extent that we cannot tolerate any compromises. As long as they (Europe) accept us as we are, then we can be together; we respect them as they are with their values. If the concern is that our religious values will be devastated, (we must remember that) our nation has overcome so many obstacles. We have suffered more than any other nation in the region . . . poverty, remaining aloof to our values, lost identity Despite all these, thankfully today, we can see that 80-90% of our nation is still firmly attached to its history and the roots of soul and meaning. During the time of the Common Market and the later Customs Union I was always sure and am still sure that our nation would not compromise either their national or their religious values. I am not worried that we are about to lose our lands.

If you were to write a letter or send a message to the Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, what would you tell him?

Instead of what I would say, let me use a saying of our Prophet: "If God has blessed a state president, a sovereign, a ruler with mercy, He provides him with qualified viziers (consultants) who will guide him from wrongdoing to righteousness." Many great statesmen were raised both in the Ottoman State and in the Republic. But the problem was the lack of consultants who were qualified to guide these statesmen to the truth only for the sake of the interests of the state and the nation, seeking no personal aspirations. In the past, even though perhaps it was not my place to do so, I sent my greetings and reverence via a friend to one of our former heads of state, enclosing the following thoughts "Do not be content with employing consultants only from among the admirers of your party. Do not only speak with your own organizations. Benefit from the wise people who love Turkey; because they act objectively, and seek no personal gain." I gave some names with whom they could consult concerning various issues in Turkey. In my message to Mr Erdogan I would tell him to seek wise people who don't have any political goals, who are concerned with the truth, and who frequently resort to their ideas. This seems to me very important when standing firm on one's own two feet. I would have sent the same message to Mr Ecevit and Mr Demirel, if I had had to.