Erbakan, Gulen and Erdogan by Yasin Dogan

Fethullah GulenYeni safak columnist Yasin Dogan has compared Fethullah Gulen with N. Erbakan and R. T. Erdogan (current premier of Turkey) in his latest article. Both Erbakan and Erdogan are well known figures of Islamist movements in Turkey: Erbakan embodies the harder line version, while Erdogan is more moderate and open to new ideas in his politics. This article, by virtue of comparison, shows one more time that despite the availability of means and resources, neither Mr. Gulen nor the movement he inspired is politically motivated or in the game for any kind of political gain.

Years ago I wrote an article that discussed the differences in style and method between Necmettin Erbakan and Fethullah Gulen. The difference that became salient particularly during the Refahyol era, when the Welfare Party (RP) and the True Path Party (DYP) formed a coalition government, and during the Feb. 28 process was that Erbakan tended to give inward-oriented messages while Gulen would give outward-oriented ones.

Erbakan acted less like a political party leader and more like a community leader who would regulate the lives of his followers. This position would necessarily lead to an inward-oriented discourse being promoted as the concerns of a particular group. Although the Gulen movement, too, accommodated a certain level of allegiance and close solidarity among its members, we observed that their discourses were more open, more embracing and more flexible. Even some statements Gulen made during the Feb. 28 process were hotly debated because of this difference of style. Yet, this difference of discourse and method proved harmful for Erbakan and his party and beneficial for the Gulen movement.

What made Fethullah Gulen lead a large social movement and Erdo─čan a big political movement is this human-oriented perspective and the method and style they employ in winning the hearts of people.