Fethullah Gulen

The core tenets of a functioning democracy – the rule of law, respect for individual freedoms – are also the most basic of Islamic values bestowed upon us by God.  –Fethullah Gulen

Named as one of the most influential Muslim leaders in the world by Time magazine, Imam Gulen’s words on democracy echo loudly in the hearts of most members of the free world, regardless of religious affiliation.

And these sentiments are particularly important right now – for Americans as we are moving loudly through the current Presidential election cycle, and for all citizens of the world as we look at current events in countries like Turkey.

Turkey is an Islamic country, no doubt about it, but for Westerners it holds a very special place in our hearts – as the birthplace of Santa Claus (St. Nick) and for many missions of St. Paul the Apostle.  For the last decade or more, Turkey has been really feeling the birth pangs of a new movement of democracy, and for the last few years in particular this new movement has been under significant threat.

After rising to the highest office of the land, the current leadership seems to have forgotten the most basic fundamental principle of democratic rule – the leaders are always answerable to the people.  With arbitrary government takeovers of private businesses from banks to publishing houses, democracy in Turkey is under threat.  With the most recent take overs of Zaman media and other news outlets, one of the highest expressions of democracy – free speech – is increasingly in danger.

As freedom seems to be slowly eroded in this wonderful country, the hearts of the international community open for our Turkish neighbors.

Democracy is not the exclusive right of the powerful or select few, but of everyone.  Everyone deserves a voice.