It’s true that Gulen and Erdogan share a common goal – traditional Islam’s supremacy in the country’s political and social life – but they differ in regard to the method.
While Gulen believes in a moderate form of Islam in the medium term, in a gently and patiently operating model in domestic and foreign policy, Erdogan argues that once the Islamists have prevailed over the nationalists, there is no reason for moderation, but rather a need to act quickly and with full force in promoting traditional Islam at home and in support of similar-minded Muslims elsewhere.
The conflict between Gulen and Erdogan for the country’s foreign policy is summarized in the case of Ankara’s deteriorating relations with Israel and Egypt. Gulen has repeatedly opposed these developments in favor of patience, not spasmodic actions. Unlike Gulen, Erdogan is outspoken in his Islamic rhetoric, avoiding the feints and evasions of his rivals.
Islam, sooner or later, that is the message of both.