Fethullah Gülen criticized the government's handling of the Turkey-wide protests over the demolition attempt of Istanbul's Gezi Park.
Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen called June 6 on the government to not underestimate the Turkey-wide protests that were sparked 10 days ago over the demolition of Gezi Park in Istanbul, comparing the demonstrations to an “invasion of ants.”
“We need to act smart and see the smallest problems as very big, and we need to handle them in a smart way. If you are facing an invasion of ants, you can’t disregard it thinking that they are ‘ants,’” Gülen said in a video recorded speech published on his website.
Gülen argued that if the government failed to admit that some of the protesters were seeking their rights, “the innocent demands of some innocent people” participating in the demonstrations would likely be ignored. “These are generations engendered by our negligence. [The demonstrators] have some reasonable demands. Indeed they can say ‘The trees of a park should not be cut down; the panorama allowing people to walk there should be preserved. They can say ecosystem, they can say you are killing the green,’” he added.
The scholar that has lived in a self-imposed exile in the United States since the late 1990s recommended soothing the protests before they escalate and spread further.
“Fire and war… Even if you start it, you cannot stop it where you want. So you should extinguish the fire when it is small,” he said, while arguing that the events had been perceived as “doomsday” all over the world.
Gülen also described the protesters as a “wrecked generation” that needs to be salvaged. He said “such depravity” would continue unless the youth were restored, urging at the same time restraint and patience from his followers. “Our duty is to work to rehabilitate hearts,” he said.