Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has commended the work of nongovernmental organizations such as the Gülen Institute which endeavor to bring people together irrespective of their backgrounds and make them feel that they are working to achieve the same goals.
Annan said it is important to have institutions like the Gülen Institute that gather people from different backgrounds and remind us of the fact that we are all in the same boat. His remarks came during a gathering organized earlier this week by the Gülen Institute at the Hyatt Regency Houston hotel.
Indicating that he is working on serious problems the world faces such as human rights, education and solidarity, Annan said the Gülen Institute has similar ideals.
The former UN secretary-general also said all religions, including Islam, Christianity and Judaism, teach about social morality. Noting that Islam teaches of a merciful God, he asked how some people can kill others in the name of God and claim that they support the religion. Annan said that such people want to use religion for their own interests.
Among the audience at the event were Texas House of Representatives member Dr. Alma Allen; Dr. Lyn Ragsdale, dean of social sciences at Rice University; Mississippi Senators Hillman Frazier and Hank Zuber; D’Artagnan Bebel, vice president and general manager of Fox 26; Port of Houston Authority Chairman James Edmonds; Lasse Seim, the Norwegian consul general in Houston; Chase Untermeyer, former US ambassador to Qatar; Paul Lynch, UK consul general in Houston; Stephen Daniel, Houston Police Department Public Affairs representative; and many other academics, consuls general, businessmen and representatives of nongovernmental organizations.
Before Annan took the stage, Dr. Mark Webb, the chair of the department of philosophy at Texas Tech University, spoke about Fethullah Gulen, a renowned Turkish-Islamic thinker. Referring to a line in the Bible that states, “You will know the tree by the fruit it bears,” Webb said he had not personally meet Fethullah Gulen, but learned about him by looking at the fruit of the movement he inspired. Webb also said he was proud to be part of the Gulen movement
In his speech, Annan also praised Turkey for carrying out many reforms to enter the European Union while noting that the problem of granting Turkey a special status instead of full membership should be resolved. Stressing that the Middle East and Afghanistan have many problems, Annan emphasized Turkey’s role as it has good relations with all countries in the region. He said he believes a peaceful Turkey will be beneficial in the future just as it was in the past. Annan also pointed out that he had worked with Turkey not only on the Cyprus issue, but on Iraq and the Middle East as well. In all issues, he stated, Turkey displayed a constructive and helpful attitude.
After answering questions from the audience, Annan was presented a carpet with his picture on it at the end of the event.