vrijdag 8 juli 2016

Gülen Movement accused of being a Terrorist Society

In the Dutch and international press recently reports occur that mention that the Gülen Movement or Hizmet by (elements within) the present Turkish government is seen as 'terrorist'. This involves that this movement is seen as pursuing a political goal through acts of violence.  The acts of violence are not known to me and, more important, there is not a specific political goal for Fethullah Gülen or for members of his loose network of social and religious activities.
I am not a specialist on Turkey. People, much more qualified have given comments on this issue as to Turkey. The American government has in November 2015 already commented that they do not consider Gülen as a terrorist and therefore will not send him to Ankara. I made research on the activities of the movement in Western Europe, especially in the Netherlands. In this respect I became co-editor (with professor Johan Leman of Leuven University and Dr. Gürkan Celik of The Hague) of a book entitled: Gülen-inspired Hizmet in Europa. The Western Journey of a Turkish Muslim Movement (Brussels: Peter Lang, 2015).
The book has two parts. In the first part I wrote a contribution, together with Gürkan Celik on the philosophical roots of the social ethics of Fethullah Gülen: they are only in part taen from the Qur'an, but have also firm roots in the Greek  philosophical tradition ofAristotle and his doctrine of virtues. In this respect we should the Muslim tradition of Gülen not only define as part (adn continuation) of the Jewish-Christian biblical tradition, but also rooted on the foundation of European culture through its connection to Plato, Aristotle and the Greek philosophical-ethical tradition. In the second part I wrote the article on the Hizmet Movement in Europe.
For the book published in 2015, we asked Frans Kalb (since long active for the magazine Begrip on (Muslim-Christian relations) to make the drawing as reproduced above. Because of the academic tradition of the series of Peter Lang we could not put it on the cover of the book. But here it represents the important elements of the presence of the Hizmet Movement in Western Europe. Gülen is represented on the right. He sees Turkish people migrating to Europe and waves them for a farewell. Europe is represented by the Eifel Tower of Paris, the Big Ben of London, the Brandenburger Tor of Berlin and a Dutch windmill. He gives them the advice to seek participation in a European society (and not to dream of a return to Turkey and not to postpone learning a new language). Instead, he suggests for them integration in a new society through dialogue and education.
This is how I know the agenda of the Gülen movement in our country and related European countries. During a visit to Germany, Ramadan 1977 (August-September) Gülen visited Turkish centres in Germany and noticed that most people had not the perspective of staying in Germany. "Gülen preached that they should open themselves for German culture and society and seek their future in Europe. The next year Necdet Basaran, an independent preacher and close to Gülen, came to Germany and then moved in 1980 to the Netherlands." (2015:180). This was the beginning of what must be labelled as an emancipation movement, first active in education, then in business development, in dialogue centres for religious but also pure cultural contacts, in charity cooperation. They do not build mosques (also the Netherlands has enough facilities for Muslim worship), but have opened a modest number of respected high quality schools, called Cosmicus Schools, because global citizenship is their ideal. They publish an open Dutch edition of the newspaper Zaman.
Among Muslims in the Netherlands they are a small number, but known through their effectiveness in emancipation and openness for peaceful contacts and dialogue. It is sad that such strange and foul accusations are made against them, which now make it impossible for some of their active members, but also for visitors of the movement to travel to Turkey.
Postscript on 17 July 2016: I wrote this just a few days before a section of the Turkish army tried to remove Erdogan with a military coup that faild (15 July 2015). Instead of doing serious research, Erdogan and several of his ministers accused Fethullah Gülen of planning the coup. US Foreign Ministery Kelly already reacted immediately that accusations of 'American involvement in the coup' were nonsense and only could deteriorate the relations of Turkey with America. In Rotterdam there were demonstrations in front of the Turkish consulate. After yells in support of Erdogan the Turkish supporters immediately also denounced Fethullah Gülen for his criticism of Erdogan (beginning in 2013 with the protests against the authoritarian rule, at the Taksim-Gezir Park protests, of 28 May 2013 and following weeks.

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