Deputy PM made ‘humane visit’ to Islamic scholar Gülen, Erdoğan confirms
Fethullah Gülen lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since the late 1990s.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has confirmed that Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç made a visit to the Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since the late 1990s. Arınç had joined the Turkish delegation during Erdoğan’s U.S. visit.
“[Deputy Prime Minister] Bülent [Arınç] met with Fethullah Gülen as a deputy on the first day of the trip,” Erdoğan told reporters, when asked about the issue again.
“It has been a humane visit. We have a relationship of brotherhood and friendship based on the past. It is a meeting which was held in order to eliminate some circles’ negative rumors and speculations all along. We wanted to meet, and they accepted,” Erdoğan said.
Speaking at a press conference ahead of his departure from Ankara for Washington on May 14, Erdoğan had given a vague answer when asked whether he would visit Gülen, alluding to the possibility. “[Is there something] that can fall from the sky that the ground could refuse?” Erdoğan had said, referring to a proverb that implied that they would not be in a position to refuse if such a meeting was on the agenda.
Since after the June 2011 elections, there have been persistent arguments of a gradually growing disagreement between the government and the followers of Gülen, called either the Gülen Movement or the Hizmet (Service) Movement. The uneasiness is reportedly on both sides amid allegations of a parallel state established by the Gülen Movement, which is particularly powerful in the police and judiciary.