Gulen Movement & Politics in Turkey
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  • 1. TURKEY’S GÜLEN MOVEMENT Hacking State Secularism Through Religious Civil Engagement
  • 2. Modern Turkey  Question: What political impact can a religious movement have in a country that excludes religion from the public sphere?
  • 3. Modern Turkey  Question: What political impact can a religious movement have in a country that excludes religion from the public sphere?  Turkey - Laicité secularism since fall of Ottoman Empire  Rule by “laity” vs. clergy  Absence of state religion  Religion is only a private matter  Religious considerations considered incompatible with reasoned political debate.
  • 4. Modern Turkey  Modern Turkish state founded on Kemal Ataturk’s vision:  Constitutional Republic  Power held by the people vs. tribal and religious leaders  Banished (Ottoman) religious interference from public sphere  Turkish nationalism emphasized over a various of ethnic/religious identities  Embrace of modern secular (European) ideas and institutions
  • 5. Modern Turkey  Religion in Public Sphere  Mosques managed by the government’s Directorate of Religious Affairs  Prevents mosques from being a locus of political mobilization  Religious groups not allowed to form political parties  Approves state-friendly Sunni Islamic teaching vs. ethnic, Sufi variations
  • 6. Modern Turkey  Religion in Public Sphere  Restrictions on religious freedom  Closure and confiscation of Christian churches and seminaries  Denial of access to government-held sacred spaces for religious observances  Denial of full legal status to religious minorities
  • 7. Modern Turkey  AKP (Justice and Development)Party  In power from 2002-Present  Center-right politics, liberal market economy, socially conservative  Considered Pro-Western & pro-American  Seeks to loosen some restrictions on public expression of religion  Constrained by Kemalist establishment in military, judiciary, etc.
  • 8. The Gülen Movement  Founder: Fethullah Gülen  Lives in exile in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania  Background in Sufi teaching, Sunni (Hanafi) thought  Argues that liberal democracy is compatible with Islam  Openly looks to Western religious and political thought to augment his own vision
  • 9. The Gülen Movement  Controversial Movement in Turkey
  • 10. The Gülen Movement  Founder: Fethullah Gülen  “When I was in elementary school around the age of 6 and when I did my noon prayer during recess once, I was locked in the basement as punishment by the principal. Such pressure was real. Today, on the one hand, some Muslims face oppression and in response, certain individuals commit suicide attacks. Religion doesn't condone or justify responding to those who oppress with oppression.”
  • 11. The Gülen Mopvement  Gülen’s Teachings: Shades of Karl Barth  Stresses that the inner dimension of Islam should drive how a Muslim acts in society  Muslims should practice service to the community, and make their goal to serve common good (hizmet)  Advocates religious freedom and interreligious dialogue  Political sphere should not restrict private or public expressions of religion
  • 12. The Gülen Movement  Gülen’s Political Theology  “Companion Model” of State-Religion Relationship  Muhammad listened to all of his companions when considering civil issues. Modern states should follow this example.  Very limited number of divine decrees regarding religion and state  “Secondary matters” are the domain of the state, yet should reflect the judgment and wisdom of the people.  Citizens should cultivate their faith, and bring the wisdom they receive through their faith into the public square.
  • 13. The Gülen Movement  Parallels in Western Political/Religious Thought  Two Ideas About Faith and the Public Square  John Rawls (Much like Kemalist Turkey):  Religion and Faith entirely separate  Faith a private issue  State policies argued from Reason alone  Equal footing for all faiths, with Reason as common ground
  • 14. The Gülen Movement  Parallels in Western Political/Religious Thought  Two Ideas About Faith and the Public Square  John Rawls (Much like Kemalist Turkey):  Religion and Faith entirely separate  Faith a private issue  State policies argued from Reason alone  Equal footing for all faiths, with Reason as common ground  Alfred Stepan/Twin Tolerations (Much like Gülen’s Vision):  No interference by State on Church, and vice versa  Citizens do not leave religious identity behind in public dialogue  Right of religious groups to mobilize in civil and political space
  • 15. The Gülen Movement  Movement in Turkish civil society
  • 16. The Gülen Movement  Turkish civil society  Growing influence in education, business and other sectors  Viewed with suspicion by political figures (still a mysterious group to many Turkish citizens)  Movement aims for long-term goals of changing Turkish political and religious life.
  • 17. Modern Turkey  Question: What political impact can a religious movement have in a country that excludes religion from the public sphere?  The Gülen Movement aims to have a profound impact  Activism and Influence in Civil Society is the Key  Education  Business  Media  Social Services
  • 18. TURKEY’S GÜLEN MOVEMENT Hacking State Secularism Through Religious Civil Engagement