What was Fethullah Gülen's response to the politicization and chaos of the late 1970s in Turkey?
In 1976, the Religious Directorate posted Gülen to Bornova, Izmir.
Izmir was the site of one of Turkey’s major universities with a correspondingly large student population and a great deal of the militant activism typical of universities in the 1970s.
It came to Gülen’s attention that leftist groups were running protection rackets to extort money from small businessmen and shopkeepers in the city and deliberately disrupting the business and social life of the community. The racketeers had already murdered a number of their victims. In his sermons, Gülen spoke out and urged those being threatened by the rackets neither to yield to threats and violence, nor to react with violence and exacerbate the situation. He urged them to report the crimes to the police and have the racketeers dealt with through the proper channels. This message led to threats being made against his life.
At the same time, he challenged the students of left and right to come to the mosque and discuss their ideas with him. He offered to answer any questions, whether secular or religious, which they put to him. A great many students took up this offer. So, in addition to his daily duties giving traditional religious instruction and preaching, Gülen devoted every Sunday evening to these discussion sessions.
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