Roundtable Lunch Discussion “Hizmet Movement on Extremism”

The Hizmet Movement on Extremism: A Proactive Approach for Deradicalisation

With Prof Johan Leman & Dr Ismail Sezgin

Wednesday 14th January 2015 at 12:30 

Dialogue Platform, Rue Montoyer 31, Brussels 1000

Abstract: ‘Hizmet’ is a Turkish word, which literally means service. It is also the name of a trans-national civil society movement originating from Turkey. The movement is inspired by the teachings and works of Fethullah Gulen a Turkish/Muslim scholar and peace advocate. The Hizmet Movement focuses on education, dialogue and relief work and functions as a loosely connected network of people sharing similar ideals and principles. It has founded over a thousand schools; hundreds of dialogue organisations; business associations, clinics; media outlets; humanitarian aid and other charitable NGOs in over 150 countries worldwide. 

Since movement is composed predominantly of practicing Muslims inspired by their Islamic faith to engage in activities inclusive of people regardless of faith it is important to ask how this movement views and responds to the issue of (violent) extremism emanating from among Muslims whose interpretation of Islam appears to be diametrically opposed to those of Gulen. Accordingly, this talk will look at three points: (a) Hizmet’s theoretical and theological perspective (that fundamentally differentiates it from ISIL type ideology) on extremism (b) Hizmet practices that in some capacity relate to tackling the causes of extremism and (c) An alternative approach to tackling violent extremist ideology with recommendations for policy makers and faith inspired movements and groups such as Hizmet.

Biography of Prof Johan Leman: 

Professor Leman is social and cultural anthropologist in Belgium. He had PhD in social and cultural anthropology, MA in philosophy, MA in eastern philology and history, K.U. Leuven (Catholic University of Leuven). Prof Leman is emeritus professor in social and cultural anthropology at the Faculty of Social Sciences at K.U. Leuven. He has taught ‘migration and minority policies and its anthropological implications’, ‘ethnicity and its application at Mediterranean cultures’, ‘interethnic majority-minority relations in Europe’, ‘introduction in social and cultural anthropology, and criminological issues’ and ‘anthropology of religion’. 

He guides PhD research multiculturalism, interethnic relations, border and boundary crossing (conversion studies), Mediterranean cultures. He has been former chief of cabinet of the Royal Commissioner for Migrant Policy in Belgium and former Director of the federal Centre for equal opportunities and opposition against racism. 

Prof Leman was the chairholder of KU Leuven GCIS (Gulen Chair in Intercultural Studies) between 2010 and 2014 and he is the president of Foyer, regional minority centre in Brussels.

Biography of Ismail Sezgin

Ismail Mesut Sezgin is a PhD researcher at the Institute for Spirituality, Religion and Public Life in Leeds Metropolitan University. Having had his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science at Marmara University in Istanbul, Sezgin is now studying on religion and society relations. He is working on a PhD thesis titled “Theory of Moral Responsibility in the Writings of Fethullah Gülen”. His research interests include Ethics, Islam, Sufism, Political Islam and Turkish Politics. He has given seminars and reflections on these issues in various occasions.



Hizmet in Africa: The Activities and Significance of the Gulen Movement


With David H. Shinn (Author & Former US Ambassador)

Moderated by:  Selçuk Gültaşli, Journalist – Zaman Daily

In this event, Ambassador David Shinn has presented his latest book: “Hizmet Movement in Africa: The Activities and Significance of the Gulen Movement” on Thursday 10 March 2016.

While David Shinn has spoken on his findings about Hizmet and its activities in Africa, he has also addressed Turkey’s relations with Africa in a broader perspective.

Hizmet in Africa is the only book-length work that analyses the multifaceted activities in Africa of the followers of Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who has lived in rural Pennsylvania since 1999. The book includes Hizmet in both North Africa and Sub-Sahara Africa.

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Dialogue Platform Overwhelmingly Deplores Paris Atrocity

7th January 2015, Brussels

We strongly condemn the inhuman attack on the headquarters of the French weekly  Charlie Hebdo that took place in Paris today. There is no circumstance or condition that would justify such brutality. Ideas can only be challenged through ideas – not through violence, cruelty or terrorism.

We express our deepest sympathy and thoughts for the victims and extend our condolences to their friends and families. We also pray for the speedy recovery for the injured and call upon everyone to stand together and united against such murderous acts.

Dialogue Platform

Book Launch event “Renewing Islam by Service” by Dr Valkenberg

The talk by Dr. Valkenberg on his recent book “Renewing Islam by Service: A Christian View of Fethullah Gulen and the Hizmet Movement” took place on Monday, 2 November .

* What is the Gülen Movement and the scope of its activities?

* To what extent they can contribute to the European society?

* Can the “dialogue minded” Movement be an antidote to extremism?

* What role can the faith based services play in the secular societies?

Renewing Islam by Service offers a theological account of the contemporary Turkish faith-based service movement started by Fethullah Gülen, and placed against the backdrop of changes in modern Turkish society. The life and works of Gülen are analyzed against the background of developments in Turkish society, and of spiritual Islamic tendencies in the transition from the Ottoman empire to the secular republic. Pim Valkenberg includes stories of his personal experiences with supporters of this movement, in a number of different countries, and analyzes the spiritual practices and the faith-based service of this movement that is also compared to some important Christian religious movements.

Pim (Wilhelmus G.B.M.) Valkenberg is a professor of religion and culture at the Catholic University of America. He previously worked for the Diocese of Breda as a specialist on adult education, and for the Netherlands School of Advanced Studies in Theology and Religion as research fellow. He was an assistant and associate professor of dogmatic theology and the theology of religions at the Catholic University of Nijmegen (1987-2007), where he studied Arabic and Islam as well. He contributed to the establishment of a new Department of Religious Studies in 1991 with a focus on interreligious dialogue, and as associate dean of education between 1999 and 2004 he was responsible for the development of new programs of intercultural theology and pastoral studies. Between 2006 and 2011 he was a visiting professor and an associate professor of theology at Loyola University Maryland with a focus on Christian-Muslim relations.

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