Hundreds bid farewell to Hasbi Nidai Gülen, the brother to one of Turkey's leading Islamic scholars Fethullah Gülen, at a funeral ceremony in his hometown of Erzurum on Sunday. Gülen died Friday morning in a hospital in Ankara, where he was receiving treatment for lung cancer. He was 66.
Following a funeral prayer at the Hacı Bayram-ı Veli Mosque in Ankara, attended by such politicians as Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek, Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Deputy Chairman Numan Kurtulmuş, Customs and Trade Minister Hayati Yazıcı as well as many of his relatives, his body was sent to the village of Korucuk in Erzurum's Pasinler district. Many locals waited for the arrival of his body at the airport in Erzurum, including his brother Seyfullah Gülen. His body was taken to a hospital morgue by ambulance, and remained there until Sunday.
Finally on Sunday, Gülen was laid to rest in a funeral led by theologian Mehmet Ali Şengül at Lalapaşa Mosque, one of the largest mosques in the city. The mosque was full with attendees, including his brothers, three sons and two daughters, Maritime Affairs and Communication Minister Binali Yıldırım, Labor and Social Security Minister Faruk Çelik, Health Minister Recep Akdağ, Erzurum Governor Sebahattin Öztürk, businessman İbrahim Polat and Kaynak Holding Chairman Naci Tosun. Following the ceremony, he was buried next to his father.
However, Fethullah Gülen, who has been residing in the US for almost 13 years, did not attend the ceremonies. Gülen is a Turkish Islamic scholar well known for his teachings that promote mutual understanding and tolerance between different cultures and faiths. Now residing in the US, Gülen has pioneered educational activities in a number of countries, along with efforts to promote intercultural and interfaith activities around the world. He has also written nearly 60 books in Turkish, most of which have been translated into dozens of languages. He was most recently honored with the EastWest Institute's (EWI) 2011 EWI Peace Building Award for his contribution to world peace.
Gülen is in self-imposed exile in the US even though there is no legal hurdle that prevents him from returning to Turkey. Shortly after he went to the US, in 2000, then-State Security Court (DGM) prosecutor Nuh Mete Yüksel launched a case against him on charges of establishing an illegal organization, but he was acquitted after eight years. Upon appeal, the General Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals upheld the acquittal.