woensdag 16 maart 2016

Hizmet in Africa

Monday 14 March the Dialogue Centre INS of Rotterdam held a meeting in The Hague (not at a great distance, and in cooperation with the new branch of INS in The Hague: some Hizmet people are really fond of founding again and again new organizations!). The occasion was the visit by former American Ambassador to East African countries (last in Ethiopia 1997-9) and the book this man, David  H. Shinn, wrote about Hizmet in Africa. The activities and Significance of the Gülen Movement, (Los Angeles: Tsehai 164pp; 2015).

Shinn was in the region in the period  1983-2000 and then moved to Washington, to teach in an academic position. It is a no-nonsense book with chapters 3-7 on the major activities. 3 is about the business people who entered the region (often before embassies were established, in 2008 only slightly over ten embassies in Sub-Shara Africa; this changed to 27 in 2014). In 2008 there were already Hizmet schools in 27 African countries. Business people of TUSKON began with the first activities. They also introduced Bank Asya as a shari'a interest-free banking system. Chapter 4 is about the schools. There is only one in the Arab speaking countries of North Africa (in Morocco),because Arab people seem to be less receptive to Hizmet and the Gülen Movement (46, also 67, 74, 131-4).  Nigeria has at least 17 schools and the only Hizmet university in Africa. Chapter 5 is about the Dialogue Centres, 6 about Kimse Yok Mu, 7 about the media.

Chapters 1/2 and 8/9 have more general discussions about the international Gülen movement. Shinn has some criticism: the teachers who were sent from Turkey sometimes have a poor command of English. The same I heard from the son of Syafa Almirzanah who followed the Hizmet school  in Semarang. This boy was in a primary school in the USA and found the Turkish teachers also quite deficient in their English.
Shinn describes Hizmet in Africa as a very Turkish organization. Most students in schools and also people who join the TUSKON activities think that these are initiatives  by the Turkish State and not by a religious organization, based on the teachings of Fethullah Gülen. In these societies the influence is also quite recent and still very modest.
The whole Muslim world is divided in seven great cultures that are quite separate: the three old ones (Arab, Persia, Turkish) remain distinct. The three later regions (India/Pakisten, Southeast Asia and Subsahara Africa) also have their own organizations. Probably support for the ideas of Gülen is most artuculated in the most recent Muslim culture of the western countries of Europe and America.
I have written more about this book, but will place the longer version of the review on Academia.edu.

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