If such meetings are criticized because I am a retired religious official, remember that the Ministry of Religious Affairs, where I worked for years, is one of the state's most essential institutions. It operates fully within the legal framework of the Turkish republic.
Religion is one of the most vital factors that makes a nation a nation. History has never seen a nation without religion. Communism, which tried to eliminate religion through oppression, instead collapsed into ruins before it. Today, it is a sociological and historical phenomenon that humanity as a whole has turned toward religion.
Especially in recent years, our country has been a stage for terror and other activities planned abroad and implemented by those seeking to create secularism-anitsecularism and Alawi-Sunni schisms.
Citizens Should Do What They Can
Everyone agrees that it is a national and historical duty for all citizens to do what they can to prevent activities opposed by all social segments and all members of the nation. Of course, this includes everyone from the people to the administrators. In addition, for years some have portrayed Alawis and Sunnis as strangers to one another, and some, unfortunately, have identified the CHP (The Republican Populist Party) with atheism.
Talk with Cetin, the head of the Republican Populist Party
Long considered impossible, the CHP-DYP (The True Path Party) coalition, which constitutes a wing of the political Right, has been approved by most in the name of national and political unity. Given this, there is nothing strange about my initiatives in the name of national unity, which is longed for by all, for a warm dialogue among all social segments, for Sunni-Alawi and Right-Left brotherhood, and especially my recent visit to CHP General Leader Hikmet Cetin. Thankfully, the majority of our media support such initiatives, regardless of their origin. Almost all state and political leaders and intellectuals have expressed their appreciation and approval.
How are we to understand the logic of those who oppose such efforts, who seem to represent a secularism hostile to Islam, Alawism as a completely different religion or system of beliefs, and the CHP as an atheist party?
It is a fact that some schools, incorrectly associated with my name, from the first day have connected been to the National Educational Ministry. No investigation into them has been conducted, even during the last 4 years when the CHP was a government coalition partner. The best students in these schools have represented our country worldwide successfully, and were even accepted by the President.
I consider it a duty to make these matters known once again through the media, and I take this opportunity to extend my respects and good wishes to everyone.
Relations with the media and politicians
You were an introverted man of religion. Lately there have been indications that you intend to become more open. Why did you feel the need for this?
Actually, due to my profession I have always been close to the public, although perhaps not as much as a media member. Preachers are public people. I began practicing my profession before I was 20 years old. I traveled around the Marmara and Agean parts of Turkey. For a long time I was a traveling preacher. I was among the people. If being heard, seen, and known mean anything, I was one heard, seen, and known. However, the media did not relate my ideas as found in my writings and sermons. [Ertugrul Ozkok, Hurriyet daily, 1/23-30-95]
Gülen and politics
Those looking at you from the outside get the impression that you're trying to set up a political organization. Were you ever involved in any political activities?
No, I was never involved in any political efforts or activities.
Do you vote?
Yes, I was able to vote once in my life. Sometimes I wasn't here for the registration, sometimes I was under surveillance. So I was able to use my vote only once.
Are you opposed to voting for any particular party during elections?
Just the opposite. I always said from the mosque pulpits: ""Go and use your vote. This is a citizen's right and responsibility. Definitely express your choice. Wherever you want to cast your vote, cast it, but definitely vote."" This nation should get accustomed to it, and so should democracy be established. If you listen to my previous tape recordings, you'll hear this many times.
Well, after all, do you have any political aspirations or expectations?
Absolutely not. I don't even have the desire to live after this. I have a different kind of understanding. I've met good people and made many friends. I desire either a solitary corner or the other world. However, I see myself as a genuine piece of this nation, as one of the threads in the lace of this culture. So, as long as I live, if I have an opinion about a matter related to it, I won't hesitate to express it."