On 12 September 1980, the Turkish military headed by Chief of the General Staff Kenan Evren launched a coup to “bring peace to a polarized society”. The democratically elected government was dissolved, the Constitution was revoked and all political parties were closed and their assets were seized. Turkey was ruled by the Turkish Armed Forces through the National Security Council until 1983. During the years of military rule, 650,000 people were taken into custody, 230,000 people were put on trial, 517 people received the death penalty, 171 people died from torture.
Fetullah Gulen’s writings and his statements for the Chief General Staff Kenan Evren who led the coup showed his support of the coup. Some analysts say that Gulen excitedly welcomed the 1980 coup d’état, because he believed that the military intervention targeted the left wing, and therefore it would indeed pave the way for the expansion of his movement.
In an article he wrote in the Sizinti magazine, of which Gulen was the editor-in-chief, published a month after the coup, Gulen celebrated the coup and thanked the coup plotters. The relevant part reads as follows:
“…and now in completely hopeful and joyful mood, we consider this latest resurrection as a sign of the existence and future of the Last Station and salute the Soldiers one more time who rushed to help when we were completely out of hope…”
The coup was also defined by Gulen as a “victory” in the book the Modern Age and the Contemporary Generation (Çağ ve Nesil), published under the name M. Abdulfettah Sahin in the past and republished under the name of Fetullah Gulen many years later. In an interview Gulen gave to the Turkish daily Milliyet on 31 January 2005, Gulen said the leader of the 12 September 1980 coup could go to heaven:
“Evren did a great job by making elective religious classes compulsory. It is so great that even if he does not have any good deeds, he could go to heaven.”
Gulen was among those who were being searched after the coup, yet he was not taken into custody although he visited military institutions several times. He regarded this as a “miracle” himself. According to his memoirs, he got caught in the city of Bursa while he was a fugitive, but a commander set him free saying “We deal with a lot of communists, there’s no point in dealing with innocent Muslims as well.”