June 16, 2012
-- Turkish and Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen has said he prefers staying in the US longer to avoid damaging positive developments in Turkey in a first public response to Turkish prime minister's invitation to Turkey. "If [my return] halts positive developments in Turkey, [I prefer] staying here if my lifespan allows and I will not return not to damage my country, my nation and those [positive] things in my country," Gülen said with weeping eyes in a recording published on Friday in herkul.org, a web-site that publishes his speeches and writings.
In an open call that received applause from many, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan invited Gülen on Thursday to return to Turkey in a speech he delivered during the closing ceremony of the 10th International Turkish Olympiad.
"We want to see those who are abroad and longing for the homeland among us. We want this yearning to end," the prime minister said, without directly mentioning a name but openly referring to Gülen, who has been residing in the US for over a decade. Erdoğan's remarks received a lengthy standing ovation from the huge crowd that had jam-packed the over 50,000-seat Türk Telekom Arena -- Galatasaray Football Team's stadium in İstanbul's Seyrantepe neighborhood. Thousands more audience members arrived in the area in the hope of getting seats in the stadium but were left outside.
The prime minister delivered a speech to the enthusiastic crowd after he was granted a special award by the organizing committee of the Olympiads. "Absence from home is loneliness. We have no tolerance for loneliness. We are saying that this absence from home [of Gülen] should end. To be honest, I understand that this is also what you all expect. So, let's say the absence should be ended. As the child of an ancient civilization, I am extending my thanks to the ones who call on us and the entire world tonight in Turkish, the language of a rich culture. This is what I am saying, let's put absence from home and longing for the homeland to one side," the prime minister said in his call to Gülen.
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