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June 26, 2008, Thursday

When can Gülen return and how?

The ruling in favor of Fethullah Gülen's acquittal is both a historic decision and an indication of a new era opening in Turkey.

It's a historic ruling because it tells us that the republic is overcoming one of its most deep-seated fears. Religious people have no malicious intentions in serving the religion, the nation, the homeland and the state through civil society efforts that are an indispensable part of democracy, and they can never be considered a potential danger. Religious people have no problems with democratic secularism because this secular understanding is a guarantee of the freedom of religion, thought and speech. This understanding will get stronger following the ruling in the Gülen case.

It's a historic ruling because people viewed as a potential danger have broken free from the yoke of being unable to express themselves. They will no longer be accused of founding a gang or forming a terrorist organization when five of them gather to read and discuss a book. In this regard, the acquittal decision for Gülen relates to not only himself but also to the millions who want to serve the religion and the Holy Quran and compete in doing good. From now on, those who attempt to penalize the selfless people of Turkey, and Gülen in particular, through extra-judicial decisions will hit a wall formed by this historic ruling of the Supreme Court of Appeals.

It's a historic ruling because the people who carry out their global educational and dialogue efforts based on Gülen's teachings and advice will serve with greater enthusiasm and excitement and with hearts that are at peace. And they will no longer face questions abroad such as "You are very good people, your services are great, but why is your leader and guide still a debated figure at the official level in his own country?"

It's a historic ruling because it has allowed our people to take a deep breath at a time when Turkey is going through a tense period amidst various troubles and when social tension has heightened, thereby creating a comforting effect on consciences and making the entire country feel better. It has constituted a very essential step for the long-sought unity between the nation and the state and for the meeting of the judiciary with the national conscience. It has given birth to an atmosphere that inspires hope for our future.

The decisions to acquit, made by the 11th Ankara High Criminal Court, the 9th Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals and finally by the General Assembly of the Criminal Chambers of the Supreme Court of Appeals, have paved the way for a new era in Turkey. Now it is possible to hold fast to dialogue and tolerance and make a new move in search of sound ground for social conciliation and agreement. This acquittal decision is an encouraging decision on the path of dialogue.

Following this acquittal, if the Constitutional Court rules against the closure of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), Turkey will literally get off the ground. The judiciary, currently at the heart of fiery debates, will re-earn people's confidence to a large extent. And in that case, I believe, the prime minister will take new steps in the name of dialogue and tolerance in the political sphere.

Lastly, some people say, "This decision has granted Gülen the visa needed to return to Turkey." There was no legal hindrance that prevented Gülen from returning to Turkey during the eight-year trial process. However, this acquittal is important since it will render all debates likely to arise upon his return completely null and void.

When can Gülen return and how? There are millions of people in Turkey who love Gülen. They love him for God's sake and nothing else. They see his work as a rejuvenating move that will take Turkey to the place it deserves in the world. That's why they find it reasonable and provide their full support. They have missed him very much and Gülen has also missed them and his homeland very much. I visited him last month and saw that he had more health problems than before. I know how badly he longs for his homeland's soil. However, it's up to him to decide to return. We can state with certainty that Gülen, if he decides to do so, will silently return like an ordinary person; he has nothing to do with pompous crowds greeting him at the airport. He will return with humility, peacefully and with a huge love. I believe that he will get back to us whenever his health condition allows him to. This wish is at the same time a call made to him from the heart on behalf of his lovers.

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