Hodjaefendi Fethullah Gülen

Turkish Muslim Preacher
Fethullah Gülen is a preacher, thinker and educator, who assumed the leadership of the Nurcu religious movement–started by Said Nursî (1878—1960 CE). His popularity and authority in Turkey have been the driving force that brought about the social and, eventually, political changes which helped empower Muslim politics in Turkey. Despite his peaceful means of preaching and community organization, Gülen is hated by the secularist establishment in Turkey and has been living in the US since 1999.

Birth: 27 April 1941 (Age: 77)

Source of Influence: Scholarly

Influence: Figure of spiritual and social leadership for millions of Turkish Muslims and others around the world

School of Thought: Traditional Sunni

Status: Not featured in current year

Failed Coup Ramifications: Gülen has been accused of orchestrating the attempted coup of 15 July 2016, and his organisations and supporters have borne the brunt of Erdogan’s crackdown. Many of his followers and supporters in state institutions such as the police, judiciary and education have been targeted and removed from their posts (most estimates give the number at around 70,000). Turkey has formally asked the USA to extradite Gülen.

Signs of Problems: Two years ago, corruption allegations by Gülen against then Prime Minister Erdogan and his inner circle created a great rift between these former allies. Gülen was blamed for running a ‘parallel state’ and hundreds of his followers in the police and judiciary were removed amidst allegations of phone bugging and illegal audio recordings.

Areas of Influence Included:

Interfaith centres in Europe and the US; charities, hospitals, and banks; around 300 schools in Turkey and hundreds more worldwide (including the largest network of Charter Schools in the USA); a TV and radio station, and daily newspapers.