Saturday, June 4, 2011
Gulen is even in Germany---and so was Hitler
The following article appeared in a major German newspaper, Der Tagesspiegel, on May 28, 2009: http://www.tagesspiegel.de/politik/deutschland/Fethullah-Guelen-Guelen-Bewegung-Muslime;art122,2808616
Modern Muslims With Math on the Way to Allah by Claudia Keller and Thomas Seiber
For 30 years the Turkish preacher Fethullah Gülen has taught that Muslims should accept modernity, educate themselves, and at the same time remain pious. In the meantime the Gülen movement is behind 150 tutoring institutes and 12 schools
Potsdam - Potsdam - It is not often that so many men and women with Turkish names are present in the lecture hall of the University of Potsdam . But that will change, if things go the way of Turkish preacher Fethullah Gülen.
The 68-year-old has taught for 30 years that Muslims should accept modern ways, educate themselves, and at the same time remain pious. His followers operate thousands of tutoring institutes, schools and universities worldwide. In Germany as well, Fethullah Gülen is finding more and more followers. Parents of Turkish origin send their children to what is by now 150 tutoring institutes and 12 schools run by the Gülen movement. Meanwhile, the tutoring facilities can be found in nearly every major city. In the Spandau borough of Berlin , schools run by the supporting organization TÜDESB belong to the network. Up to now, these religiously-inspired educational institutions have sought to hide from the public the fact that they belong to the Gülen network.
On Tuesday and Wednesday the Berlin FID, a Gülen-associated society for the development of intercultural dialog, and the Institute for Religious Studies of the University of Potsdam are hosting an international conference on “Muslims between tradition and modernity: The Gulen Movement as a bridge between cultures.” They enlisted the cooperation of the German Orient Foundation, Abraham Geiger College and the Evangelical Academy as partners.
The program stated that the Gülen movement was to be subjected to a "scientific study". Unfortunately, however, the meeting turned into a purely celebratory event. Much could be heard about Gülen's commitment to "world peace" and the "Dialogue of Civilizations," about the importance of his philosophy for the integration of the local Muslims, and about how vital it is for contemporary western society which, although technically adept, suffers from moral neglect. Scarcely any critical voices were present on the podium; the only critical questions from the audience came from journalists. "Of course I'm not a critic of the Gülen movement, otherwise I would not be here today," said Dutch theologian Pim Valkenberg, who compared Fethullah Gülen to the humanist Erasmus of Rotterdam. Moreover, it was not revealed, which speakers themselves belonged to the Gülen movement.
Thus many questions remained unresolved. It is not only in Turkey that Fethullah Gülen is regarded with a mixture of fascination and suspicion. Gülen, who comes from East Anatolia , made his name as an imam in the 1960s through his preaching. In the mid-1990s many Turkish politicians and intellectuals praised him as a modernizer of Islam, because he advocated a union of religion and science. Nature, in Gülen’s view, is the Book of Allah, which as a scientist one must learn to read. Science and modern technology are for him not the enemies of Islam, but rather sources of religious revelation. Gülen has met with leaders of other religions, including Pope John Paul II.
The army and judiciary in Turkey have always regarded Gülen with suspicion, and felt their suspicions confirmed in the late 1990s, when a recording of a speech surfaced in which Gülen called on his followers to engage in a sort of “march” on institutions, with the goal of seizing the power of the state. Patiently, and without open conflict with the secular establishment, pious Muslims should work to gain important positions, said Gülen accordingly. Prosecutors viewed this speech as a call to revolution. Gülen maintained that he did not want a Muslim theocracy, but that instead, parts of his speech had been deliberately cut up so as to foment this impression. Gülen fled to the United States , from where he continues to lead his movement. It includes not only schools but also trade associations and the Turkish World Media Group, with the religiously conservative quality newspaper "Zaman" among others. Last year, the verdict against him was lifted in Turkey .
The Gülen movement seeks to generate, through their own educational institutions, a Muslim elite which will find its way in the globalized world and also be pious, said Bekim Agai, an Islamic Studies expert, at the conference. That a stealthy Islamization of Europe could occur in the processwas something he did not consider possible. The private schools follow a secular curriculum; teaching of Islam is not on the program. Students who, however, turn out to be religiously inclined are passed on to Gülen-associated universities and student bodies.
Rabbi Walter Homolka, director of the Abraham Geiger College , said that the struggle of Gülen’s supporters to combine their religious identity with education and integration into the secular environment reminded him of the development of liberal Judaism in the 19th Century. Because of this he was willing to participate in the organization of the meeting. "It is unfair to measure religious Muslims against the most liberal expression of our values," said Homolka. Even among Christians and Jews, there are environments that cannot bear up to these standards.