Denouncing the violence in the name of God: Fethullah Gulen’s Authentic 9/11 Condemnation Message

washington-postA couple of weeks ago, during our regular intellectual discussion with prominent scholars of their own fields, we ended up talking about suicide bombings and violence in the name of God. The group had no doubt that all faith systems unequivocally forbid terrorist activities, but also they were curious about the long standing ideologies of some so-called radical religious clergy.

Although they are far less in numbers than the tolerant voices, thanks to the new age of media communication skills, their terror-supporting statements are exceedingly amplified. We all agreed on the situation, but did not forget to give the deserved-credit to those who loudly condemn the violence in the name of God. Among those who have spoken out, Mr. Fethullah Gulen, who was selected as the world’s leading public intellectual by the readers of Foreign Policy Magazine in 2008, was the foremost religious figure we could recall who speaks out on such radicalization and acts of terror.

He was the first Muslim scholar who publicly denounced the 9/11 attacks, just a few days after these unspeakable acts. As far as we knew, his public condemnation message was published in the Washington Post. We searched the exact quote online -contrary to conventional media reporting, which is not famous with amplifying the tolerant voices, online resources have always been more diverse. Thus, we were sure that we’d be able to find the message in a few seconds, or just in a millisecond, as Google advertises, but to our surprise, nothing popped up! We looked for hours and could not find the exact quote of Fethullah Gulen’s condemnation message. There were many websites letting people know that a denouncement exists, but none could provide it to their readers. Some of the intellectuals in the room became curious about the statement. Could it be an urban legend that a prominent Muslim scholar had condemned the 9/11 attacks just a few days after the events and in Washington Post?

I took the privilege of searching the authentic condemnation message and found it. Unquestionably, my first stop was the Library of Congress. Though there seems to be a consensus of online resources that the condemnation message exists, there have been different dates flying around. Some said it was published on September 12th, 2001, others argued Sept 18th, 2001 was the exact date. None was true. After digging through all of the issues of the Washington Post from Sept 12th through the end of the month, I found Mr. Fethullah Gulen’s message, dated September 21st, 2001.

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