Fethullah Gülen and Abdullah Öcalan make Time’s 100 most influential people list

Fethullah Gülen and Abdullah Öcalan make Time’s 100 most influential people list

Fethullah Gülen and Abdullah Öcalan make Time’s 100 most influential people list

Gülen(L) and Öcalan were ranked 65th and 71st respectively.

The jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdullah Öcalan, and Turkish religious scholar Fethullah Gülen have been selected in Time magazine’s annual list of the 100 most-influential people in the world, published on April 18, in the 65th and 71st positions respectively. The choice of the two much-debated names in the category of “leaders,” was accompanied with short profiles that justified their importance and weighed current political conjuncture. 

The choice of the author for the profile of Öcalan, engaged in peace talks with the Turkish government in a bid to find a solution to the thorny Kurdish issue, was also significant as it was penned by Sinn Fein’s leader, Gerry Adams. Adams, himself a key figure in truce negotiations between the British government and Irish Republican Army (IRA) in the mid-‘90s, argued that Öcalan’s recent move to reach a deal with the Turkish authorities required “leadership.” 

“[Öcalan] has become a voice for peace, a leader willing to offer the hand of friendship to those he has fought against for most of his life,” Adams wrote, quoting excerpts of Öcalan’s call for cease-fire delivered during Nevruz celebrations in Diyarbakır, March 21. “Persuading enemies that there are alternative ways to resolve long-standing differences takes patience and a willingness to engage in dialogue, but most important, it requires leadership,” he added. Adams also commended what he interpreted as Öcalan’s “vision” and called on the Turkish government for his release. 

Gülen’s profile was written by The New York Times’ former correspondent in Turkey, Stephen Kinzer. Kinzer said that although Gülen lived in self-imposed exile, secluded in retreat in his Pennsylvania home, his influence in the government and security forces was “immense.” 

“Gülen is also a man of mystery. His influence is exercised by graduates of his schools who have reached key posts in the government, judiciary and police. This makes him seem like a shadowy puppeteer, and he is scorned by almost as many Turks as love him,” Kinzer said, noting that he had founded schools in around 140 countries. “As the most potent advocate of moderation in the Muslim world, Gülen is waging an urgently important campaign,” Kinzer wrote.