A major controversy erupted in Turkey last week after a pro-Erdogan Turkish Islamist magazine Gercek Hayat [Real Life] claimed that the controversial Turkish Imam Fethullah Gulen had written a letter on May 6, 1965 acknowledging the Armenian Genocide. The letter is included in a special 176-page edition of the magazine which belongs to the editorial group of the pro-government newspaper Yeni Safak, owned by the family of the Turkish president’s son-in-law.
Gercek Hayat’s article also accused the following of collaborating with Gulen: the Chief Rabbi of Istanbul Isahak Kahleva, Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew, former Armenian Patriarch of Turkey Shnorhk Kaloustian, the CIA, NATO, Zionists, Hillary Clinton, Pope John Paul II, and former Turkish leaders Ismet Inonu, Bulent Ecevit and Suleyman Demirel.
Gulen escaped to the United States in 1999. Later on, he and President Erdogan became antagonists after a lengthy collaboration during which Erdogan had used Gulen’s contacts and resources to come to power. In 2016, after the attempted coup d’état in Turkey, Erdogan accused Gulen of being the mastermind of the coup. Erdogan jailed and fired tens of thousands of Gulen’s followers. Since then Erdogan has made repeated requests to the US Government to have Gulen extradited to Turkey, where he faces certain death. The United States rejected Erdogan’s requests. Even those accused of associating with Gulen, who were living outside of Turkey, were kidnapped by Erdogan’s secret agents and brought back to Turkey to face harsh charges.
Under these circumstances, when a pro-Erdogan magazine accused the leaders of religious minorities and others in Turkey of associating with Gulen, they became rightly concerned about their physical well-being and possible attacks on their religious and cultural institutions.
Regarding Gulen’s letter, published by the Turkish magazine, addressed to the former Armenian Patriarch, it has been published several times before by the Turkish media.
Here are excerpts of Gulen’s May 6, 1965 letter: “I have known Armenian families and individuals during my childhood and working positions. I will not stop cursing the Great Genocide committed against Armenians in 1915. I know that among the people killed and massacred were many highly respected individuals, for whose memory I bow with respect. I curse with great grief the massacre of the sons of the Great Prophet Christ by ignorant individuals who call themselves Muslims.”