Reclusive Cleric in the Poconos Suddenly in World Spotlight

Turkey formally requests the US extradite Fethullah Gulen
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 19, 2016 12:17 PM CDT
Reclusive Cleric in the Poconos Suddenly in World Spotlight
In this 2014 photo, Turkish Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen is pictured at his residence in Saylorsburg, Pa.   (AP Photo/Selahattin Sevi, File)

The US will soon have a dicey decision to make in regard to the failed coup in Turkey. The government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has formally requested that the US extradite the man it says is responsible for the uprising, moderate Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, reports USA Today. The 77-year-old Gulen lives in small-town Pennsylvania, 5,000 miles away from Turkey, and continues to insist he had nothing to do with the coup. So who is this cleric? Some related coverage:

  • NPR provides some quick basics: Gulen used to be allies with Erdogan until a falling out in 2013. Erdogan apparently suspected Gulen was behind a corruption inquiry into his government.
  • The Guardian profiles Gulen's life in tiny Saylorsburg, Pa., where he arrived in self-exile in 1999 and is seen as a friendly neighbor to the locals. He lives at a complex where his Hizmet religious movement is taught. Gulen's followers are estimated to number between 1 million and 8 million worldwide.
  • CNN says his personal living quarters "consists of little more than a bed and bookshelves."

  • He gave a rare interview to the Atlantic in 2013, expressing fears that democratic reforms in Turkey would be reversed. "I find it more tranquil here," he said of Pennsylvania.
  • Turkish followers of Gulen are said to have created math and science charter schools around the world, including 160 that are publicly funded in the US. However, any official connection between the schools and Gulen is denied. The Washington Post takes a look.
  • Education Week has more on the subject, rounding up investigations of the schools in multiple states. Critics, for example, have objected to the near-exclusive hiring of Turkish educators, even though the schools get public money.
(More Turkey stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.