by WorldTribune Staff, July 27, 2016
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is using the aftermath of the failed coup to reign in his foes and move toward his ultimate goal of “one-man rule,” self-exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen said.
Gulen, in an op-ed piece written for The New York Times, denied any involvement in the coup and said calls for his extradition were an attempt by Erdogan to silence democracy.
“Erdogan’s accusation is no surprise, not for what it says about me but rather for what it reveals about his systematic and dangerous drive toward one-man rule,” Gulen, who leads the “Hizmet” movement from his home in Pennsylvania, said.
Gulen said he and his “Hizmet” movement – which means “service” in Turkish – have always been peaceful moderates.
“My philosophy — inclusive and pluralist Islam, dedicated to service to human beings from every faith — is antithetical to armed rebellion.
“In addition to condemning mindless violence, including during the coup attempt, we have emphasized our commitment to preventing terrorists’ recruitment from among Muslim youth and nurturing a peaceful, pluralist mind-set.”
Gulen continued: “Despite my unequivocal protest, similar to statements issued by all three of the major opposition parties, Turkey’s increasingly authoritarian president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, immediately accused me of orchestrating the putsch. He demanded that the United States extradite me from my home in Pennsylvania, where I have lived in voluntary exile since 1999.
“Throughout my life, I have publicly and privately denounced military interventions in domestic politics. In fact, I have been advocating for democracy for decades. Having suffered through four military coups in four decades in Turkey — and having been subjected by those military regimes to harassment and wrongful imprisonment – I would never want my fellow citizens to endure such an ordeal again.”