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Fethullah Gülen Says His Call for ‘Yes’ Vote Not Linked to Political Motives

Fethullah Gülen Says His Call for Yes Vote Not Linked to Political MotivesTurkish intellectual and scholar Fethullah Gülen, who recently said that the constitutional reform package to be presented to a public vote on Sept. 12 has amendments critical for the future of Turkey and had encouraged the public to vote “yes” in the referendum, has stated that his call is not related to any political party.

"We are willing to support anyone who takes steps to carry this country forward, and we will be the paving stones under their feet. We are at an equal distance to everyone. We would lend support to both [former Republican People's Party (CHP) leader] Deniz Baykal and [Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader] Devlet Bahçeli if what they do means something for today and tomorrow for our nation in taking it to a position of leadership among world states," Fethullah Gülen said in his latest weekly speech broadcast on website

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) recently prepared a list of vital amendments to the Constitution, and this package will be voted on in a referendum on Sept. 12. Among other things, the reform package includes changes to the structure of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK). Furthermore, the package repeals Article 15 of the Turkish Constitution, which gives immunity to the generals responsible for the Sept. 12, 1980 coup.

"Our support for a 'yes' vote in the referendum is an issue of praising the work itself rather than praising those who achieved it. This includes the efforts of the late Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit, [former President] Süleyman Demirel, [former State Minister] İsmet Sezgin, [Prime Minister] Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, [the late President] Turgut Özal, Devlet Bahçeli or Deniz Baykal," Fethullah Gülen said as he stressed that every effort for the benefit of the nation should be applauded.

During his address Fethullah Gülen recalled a speech earlier this month when he announced his support for the changes. "I had said that everyone, including Turkish citizens living abroad, should vote yes in the referendum. I wish we had a chance to raise the dead from their graves and urge them to cast 'yes' votes at the referendum. Some ridiculed these remarks. ... However, I spoke in such a manner because I believe in the importance of saying 'yes' in the referendum," he noted. Fethullah Gülen once again urged those living abroad, in the US or Europe, to go to Turkey and cast their votes if they can.

'I wish politicians used the language of the heart'

As an Islamic scholar who has devoted his life to the promotion of understating and dialog among individuals, Fethullah Gülen also touched upon the lack of dialogue among party leaders and expressed his wish that the leaders look at themselves and question their failures instead of directing accusations against each other.

"I wish the language of hearts prevailed in politics. I wish CHP members said, 'There are many crises in Turkey, but God is giving us these because we have failed to seek ways to compromise with the government.' I wish MHP members said: 'One cannot be a bad person in all aspects, and everyone has some good and bad sides. What would have happened if we had found some common points on some issues and said 'yes' to the government.' I wish AK Party members thought just like Caliph Umar and said: 'It is because of me if it doesn't rain and it is because of me if this situation continues.' Yes, I wish everyone in the political world were engaged in some self-questioning and tried to use the language of the heart instead of continuously directing accusations at others," he said.

Fethullah Gülen is a Turkish Islamic scholar well known for his teachings promoting mutual understanding and tolerance between cultures. One of the world's most influential Islamic scholars, Fethullah Gülen came out at the top of the list of "The World's Top 20 Public Intellectuals" by both Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines in 2008. Now residing in the US, Fethullah Gülen has pioneered educational initiatives in a number of countries along with efforts to promote intercultural and interfaith activities around the world. He has written nearly 50 books in Turkish, some of which have been translated into several languages.