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Fethullah Gülen sur Le Monde: « L’échec de l’expérience démocratique turque n’est pas dû à l’adhésion aux valeurs islamiques mais à leur trahison »

Contrairement àce que démontre le pouvoir autoritaire d’Erdogan en Turquie, il est possible deconstruire une démocratie musulmane respectueuse de l’Etat de droit, défend,dans une tribune au « Monde », l’opposant exilé aux Etats-Unis.

Il fut un temps où la Turquie était saluée comme le modèle de la démocratie musulmane moderne. Il est vrai que, au début des années 2000, l’AKP [Parti de la justice et du développement, au pouvoir] avait mis en œuvre des réformes conformes aux standards démocratiques de l’Union européenne (UE) et amélioré le bilan du pays en ce qui concerne les droits de l’homme.

Malheureusement, les réformes démocratiques ont fait long feu. Le processus a été bloqué quelques années plus tard puis, autour de 2011, après sa troisième victoire électorale, le premier ministre de l’époque, aujourd’hui président de la République, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a fait un demi-tour complet.

« L’échec del’expérience démocratique turque n’est pas dû à l’adhésion à ces valeursislamiques mais plutôt à leur trahison »

Le glissement vers l’autoritarisme a retiré à la Turquie son « exemplarité », à laquelle les autres pays à majorité musulmane pouvaient aspirer.

La démocratie est le système de gouvernement le plus compatible avec les principes de l’islam relatifs à la gouvernance. Certains pourraient être tentés d’invoquer l’exemple négatif de la Turquie sous Erdogan pour démontrer une incompatibilité entre les valeurs démocratiques et islamiques. Or, malgré des dehors d’observance islamique, le régime d’Erdogan représente une trahison totale des principales valeurs islamiques.

Celles-ci ne se réduisent pas à un style vestimentaire ou à l’utilisation de slogans religieux. Elles incluent le respect de l’Etat de droit avec un pouvoir judiciaire indépendant, la responsabilité des dirigeants et la protection des droits inaliénables et des libertés de chaque citoyen. L’échec de l’expérience démocratique turque n’est pas dû à l’adhésion à ces valeurs islamiques mais plutôt à leur trahison.

S’exprimer contre l’oppression est aussi un devoir religieux

Bien que musulmane à 99 %, la société turque reste remarquablement hétérogène. Les citoyens turcs adhèrent à de nombreuses idéologies, philosophies et croyances différentes et s’identifient comme sunnites ou alévis, turcs, kurdes ou d’une autre ethnie, musulmans ou non musulmans, pieux ou séculiers.

Dans une telle société, les tentatives d’homogénéisation sont non seulement improductives mais surtout liberticides. La forme de gouvernance participative où aucun groupe, majoritaire ou minoritaire, ne domine les autres est la seule viable pour une population aussi diverse. On peut en dire autant de la Syrie et des autres pays voisins de la région.

« La libertéest un droit accordé par Dieu, et personne – ni aucun dirigeant – ne peutl’ôter »

En Turquie ou ailleurs, les dirigeants autoritaires ont exploité les différences au sein de la société pour polariser à outrance, dresser les différents groupes les uns contre les autres et maintenir ainsi leur emprise. Quelles que soient leurs croyances ou leurs visions du monde, les citoyens devraient se réunir autour des droits de l’homme et des libertés universels et pouvoir s’opposer démocratiquement à ceux qui violent ces droits.

S’exprimer contre l’oppression est un droit démocratique, un devoir civique et un devoir religieux pour les fidèles. Le Coran demande aux croyants de ne pas rester silencieux face à l’injustice : « Ô vous qui croyez ! Observez la stricte vérité quand vous témoignez devant Dieu, fût-ce contre vous-mêmes, contre vos parents ou vos proches » (sourate 4, verset 135).

Le fait de croire ou de ne pas croire, de vivre selon ses convictions ou sa vision du monde avec la condition qu’elles ne nuisent pas à celles des autres et d’exercer les libertés fondamentales, en particulier la liberté d’expression, fait d’une personne un être humain. La liberté est un droit accordé par Dieu, le Très Miséricordieux, et personne – ni aucun dirigeant – ne peut l’ôter.

Le termed’« Etat islamique » est en soi une contradiction

Contrairement aux revendications des islamistes politiques, l’islam n’est pas une idéologie, c’est une religion. Il comporte certains principes relatifs à la gouvernance certes, mais ceux-ci ne représentent pas plus de 5 % de tout le corpus islamique.

Réduire l’islam à une idéologie politique est le plus grand crime commis contre son esprit. Tous ceux qui ont réfléchi sur l’approche islamique de la politique et de l’Etat ont commis trois erreurs. Primo, ils ont confondu l’islam établi par le Coran et la sunna [ensemble des paroles de Mahomet] et l’islam issu de l’expérience historique des musulmans. Il est important de mener une analyse critique de l’expérience des musulmans et des principes qui en sont issus pour revenir vers les sources premières, afin de proposer un nouvel horizon aux musulmans du monde entier dans les domaines des droits de l’homme, de la démocratie et de la participation citoyenne.

« Lasouveraineté populaire ne veut pas dire que la souveraineté a été enlevée àDieu et qu’elle a été remise aux hommes »

Secundo, une autre erreur consiste à se fonder sur des traductions du Coran ou certains hadiths pour créer une légitimité à une idéologie. Or l’esprit du Coran et, si l’on peut dire, la « philosophie » qui innerve la vie du Prophète ne peuvent être perceptibles qu’avec une intention saine, une approche globale et la recherche de la volonté de Dieu.

Enfin, la troisième erreur postule une incompatibilité entre la religion et la démocratie, en arguant que la première se fonde sur la souveraineté de Dieu et la seconde sur celle du peuple. Aucun musulman ne doute qu’Allah est le maître de tout sur un plan cosmologique. Mais cela ne signifie pas que nous, Ses créatures, n’avons pas de volition, de penchant, de capacité à faire des choix. La souveraineté populaire ne veut pas dire que la souveraineté a été enlevée à Dieu et qu’elle a été remise aux hommes ; elle signifie qu’une question dont la compétence a été accordée aux hommes par Dieu ne saurait être hypothéquée par un dirigeant autoritaire ou une oligarchie.

En outre, ce qu’on appelle « Etat » n’est rien d’autre qu’un système que les hommes ont mis sur pied pour protéger leurs droits fondamentaux et leurs libertés ainsi qu’assurer la justice et la paix. L’Etat n’est pas un but en soi, c’est un moyen permettant aux hommes d’atteindre le bonheur, ici-bas et dans l’au-delà. Le terme même d’« Etat islamique » est en soi une contradiction. L’islam n’ayant pas établi de clergé, la théocratie est étrangère à son esprit. L’Etat, une construction issue d’un contrat social, est formé par des êtres humains, il ne peut donc être islamique ou sacré.

Erdogan a gâchéla démocratie jadis prometteuse de la Turquie

Les démocraties sont aussi nombreuses que variées. L’idéal qui sous-tend toutes ces formes, à savoir qu’aucun groupe ne domine les autres, est aussi un idéal islamique. Le principe d’égalité des citoyens repose sur le principe de la reconnaissance de la dignité de chaque être humain et du respect qui lui est dû en tant que création de Dieu. Une forme de gouvernance participative ou républicaine est beaucoup plus en résonance avec l’esprit islamique que d’autres formes de gouvernement, comme les monarchies et les oligarchies.

« EnTurquie, une vaste campagne d’arrestations fondée sur la culpabilité parassociation se poursuit »

Le tableau actuel des dirigeants de la Turquie ressemble plus à une oligarchie qu’à une démocratie. Comment en est-on arrivé là ?

Erdogan a gâché la démocratie jadis prometteuse de la Turquie, faisant main basse sur l’appareil d’Etat, confisquant des entreprises et récompensant ses affidés. Afin de resserrer les rangs derrière lui et d’approfondir son emprise au pouvoir, il m’a déclaré ennemi de l’Etat, m’accusant ainsi que mes sympathisants d’être la cause de tous les maux. Un exemple typique de la recherche du bouc émissaire. Le régime d’Erdogan m’a poursuivi ainsi que des centaines de milliers d’autres personnes – critiques de tous bords mais surtout du mouvement pacifique Hizmet. Des manifestants écologistes, des journalistes, des universitaires, des Kurdes, des alévis, des non-musulmans et certains groupes sunnites critiques d’Erdogan ont subi les contrecoups de son agenda politique. Des vies ont été ruinées par les détentions, les licenciements et d’autres injustices encore.

En raison de la persécution en cours, des milliers de volontaires du Hizmet ont demandé l’asile dans les pays européens, dont la France. En tant que nouveaux résidents, ils doivent respecter les lois de ces pays, aider à trouver des solutions aux problèmes de ces sociétés et mener une lutte active contre la propagation d’interprétations radicales de l’islam en Europe.

En Turquie, une vaste campagne d’arrestations fondée sur la culpabilité par association se poursuit. Plus de 150 000 Turcs ont perdu leur emploi, 200 000 ont été placés en garde à vue et 50 000 ont été envoyés en détention. Les personnes qui font l’objet de poursuites pour des motifs politiques et qui veulent quitter le pays sont privées de leur droit fondamental d’aller et venir, leur passeport étant annulé.

Erdogan entame la réputation acquise par la République turque sur la scène internationale depuis 1923, exploitant les relations diplomatiques et mobilisant le personnel et les ressources du gouvernement pour harceler et kidnapper les sympathisants du mouvement Hizmet dans le monde entier.

Les valeursdémocratiques n’ont jamais été enracinées dans la société turque

Ces dernières années, et face à de telles persécutions, les citoyens turcs sont restés passifs dans leurs revendications démocratiques face à leurs dirigeants. Le souci de la stabilité économique est l’une des raisons de ce comportement.

Mais il existe aussi une raison historique. Bien que la gouvernance démocratique ait été un idéal de la République turque, les valeurs démocratiques n’ont jamais été enracinées dans la société turque. L’obéissance à un dirigeant fort et à l’Etat a toujours été un thème récurrent dans les programmes scolaires.

Les coups d’Etat militaires, qui surgissent presque tous les dix ans, n’ont pas permis à la démocratie de s’enraciner ni de progresser. Les citoyens ont oublié que l’Etat existait pour le peuple, et non l’inverse. Erdogan a profité de cette psyché collective.

« Je croisfermement que la Turquie retrouvera un jour le chemin de la démocratie »

La démocratie turque est peut-être dans le coma à cause du régime actuel mais je reste optimiste. L’oppression ne dure jamais longtemps. Je crois fermement que la Turquie retrouvera un jour le chemin de la démocratie. Cependant, pour que la démocratie prenne racine et soit pérenne, plusieurs mesures doivent être prises.

Tout d’abord, les programmes scolaires doivent être révisés. Des sujets tels que l’égalité de tous les citoyens et la protection des droits et libertés fondamentaux de la personne humaine doivent être enseignés aux élèves dès les premières années, afin qu’ils puissent en être les gardiens lorsqu’ils grandiront.

Ensuite, il est nécessaire de rédiger une Constitution qui ne permette ni la domination de la minorité ni celle de la majorité et protège les droits fondamentaux de l’homme proclamés notamment par la Déclaration universelle des droits de l’homme. La société civile et la presse libre doivent être protégées par la Constitution afin qu’elles puissent faire contrepoids au pouvoir de l’Etat. Enfin, les leaders d’opinion doivent mettre l’accent sur les valeurs démocratiques dans leurs discours et leurs actions.

La Turquie a maintenant atteint un point où la démocratie et les droits de l’homme sont mis de côté. Elle a raté une occasion historique de parvenir à une démocratie à l’européenne avec une population majoritairement musulmane. Il y a seulement une décennie, cette perspective était considérée comme une possibilité réelle.

J’espère, et je prie, pour que la triste expérience vécue récemment par les pays à majorité musulmane conduise à un réveil de la conscience collective en vue de former des dirigeants animés d’un esprit démocratique qui défendent sincèrement les libertés fondamentales de l’homme. L’islam ne trouvera rien à redire.

Fethullah Gülen 

Fethullah Gülen, né en 1941, est un prédicateur et intellectuel musulman turc,fondateur du mouvement Hizmet (« le service »). Exilé aux Etats-Unisdepuis 1999, il est notamment accusé par Recep Tayyip Erdogan, dont il futproche, d’avoir voulu réaliser un coup d’Etat en 2016. Le président turc aémis un mandat d’arrêt contre lui.

Gulen on Le Monde: “Islam is Compatible with Democracy, Despite Turkey’s Recent Example”

Turkey was hailed as an example for a modern Muslim democracy during the early 2000s. The current ruling party that came to power in 2002 implemented reforms that were aligned with the European Union’s democratic standards and the country’s record in human rights began to improve.

Unfortunately, the democratic reforms were short lived. The process stalled only a few years later and then around 2011, following his third election victory, then-prime minister now president Erdogan made a complete U-turn. The slide into authoritarianism have made Turkey no longer an example for other Muslim-majority countries to aspire to.

Some may view the negative example Turkey presents under Erdogan as evidence of an incompatibility between democratic and Islamic values. But that would be an erroneous conclusion.

Despite the outward appearance of Islamic observance, Erdogan regime represents a complete betrayal of core Islamic values. These core values are not about a style of dressing or the use of religious slogans. They include respect for the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary, accountability for the rulers and the preservation of inalienable rights and freedoms of every citizen. The recent setback in the Turkish democratic experience is not because of adherence to these Islamic values, but rather because of their betrayal.

Turkish society remains remarkably heterogeneous. Sunni or Alevi, Turk, Kurd or other in ethnicity, Muslim or non-Muslim, and religiously observant or secular in lifestyle Turkish citizens adhere to many different ideologies, philosophies, and beliefs. In such a society, the effort to make everyone the same is both futile and disrespectful to humanity. Participatory or democratic form of governance where no group, majority or minority, dominates the others is the only viable form of governance for such a diverse population. The same can be said of Syria, Iraq and other neighboring countries in the region.

In Turkey or elsewhere, authoritarian rulers have exploited the differences within the society to polarize various groups against each other and maintain their stronghold in power. Whatever beliefs or worldviews they have, citizens should come together around universal human rights and freedoms and be able to democratically oppose those who violate these rights.

Expressing yourself against oppression is a democratic right, a civic duty, and a religious duty for believers. The Quran states that people should not remain silent against injustice: “O you who have believe! Be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for God, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives.” (4:135)

Living according to your beliefs or worldview with the condition that it does no harm to others, and exercising fundamental human freedoms, especially freedom of speech, makes a person truly a human. Liberty is a right given by the Compassionate God, and no one—and no leader—can take that away. A person deprived of his or her basic rights and freedoms cannot be said to live a truly human life.

In contrast to claims by political Islamists, Islam is not a political ideology, it is a religion. It does have some principles that pertain to governance, but these account for, at most, five percent of all Islamic principles. To reduce Islam to a political ideology is the greatest crime against its ethos.

In the past those who studied or spoke about the Islamic perspective of politics and state made three errors: First, they confused the historical experiences of Muslims with the foundational sources of Islamic tradition, the Qur’an and the authentic sayings and practices of the Prophet (upon whom be peace and blessings of God). Historical experiences of Muslims and the verdicts of the jurists under these circumstances should be analyzed with a critical eye, and cannot be given the same status as the authentic sources of religion. Secondly, some cherry-picked verses of the Qur’an or the sayings of the Prophet (pbuh) to legitimize their perspective and pursued to impose that perspective upon people. The spirit of the Qur’an and the Prophetic tradition (Sunnah) can only be understood with a holistic view and with a sincere intention to seek out the will of God. Third, some concluded, wrongfully, that democracy is fundamentally against Islam because Islam declares God as the only sovereign whereas democracy is based upon the sovereignty of the people. No believer doubts that God is the sovereign of the universe, but this does not mean that human agency, including thought, inclinations and willpower do not exist or are excluded from God’s greater plan for humanity. Giving sovereignty to the people does not mean usurping it from God, but rather taking the right and duty to govern, which is endowed to humans by God, from a dictator or an oligarchy and giving it back to the people.

The “state” is a system formed by human beings in order to protect their basic rights and freedoms and maintain justice and peace. The “state” is not a goal by itself, but an agency that helps people pursue happiness in this world and in the afterworld. The alignment of the state with a set of principles and values is a sum of the alignment of the individuals who make up the system with those principles and values. Therefore, the phrase “Islamic state” is a contradiction in terms, an oxymoron. Similarly, since there is no clergy class in Islam, theocracy is alien to the spirit of Islam. A state is a result of a contract among humans, made up of humans, and it can neither be “Islamic” nor “holy”.

Democracies come in all shapes and sizes. The democratic ideal that underlies these forms, that no group has domination over the others, is also an Islamic ideal. The principle of equal citizenship is in alignment with acknowledging the dignity of every human being and respecting them as a work of art that was created by God. Participatory form of governance, whether it is called a democracy or republic, is much more in resonance with the Islamic spirit than other forms of government, including monarchies and oligarchies.

The present picture of Turkey’s leadership resembles an oligarchy rather than democracy. How did it go wrong?

President Erdogan has corrupted Turkey’s once-promising democracy, co-opting the state, seizing businesses and rewarding cronies. In order to consolidate enough of the public behind him to make his power grab, he has declared me and Hizmet movement participants the enemy of the state, blaming us for every negative incident in the country in the recent past. This is a textbook example of scapegoating.

The government under President Erdogan has pursued me and also hundreds of thousands of other people—critics of all stripes, but especially from the peaceful Hizmet movement. Environmental protesters, Journalists, Academics, Kurds, Alevis, non-Muslims, and some of the Sunni Muslim groups who have been critical of Erdogan’s actions have had their share of consequences of his political agenda. Lives have been ruined through sacking, confiscating, jailing, and torture.

Due to the ongoing persecution, thousands of Hizmet volunteers have sought asylum in around the Globe, including France. As new residents, they must abide by the laws of these countries, help find solutions to problems of those societies and lead an active struggle against the spread of radical interpretations of Islam in Europe.

Back in Turkey, a vast arrest campaign based on guilt by association is ongoing. The number of victims of this campaign of persecution keeps increasing, with over 150,000 losing jobs, over 200,000 detained and over 80,000 arrested and jailed. People who are targeted by politically-motivated prosecution and who want to leave are deprived of their fundamental right to leave the country as their passports are cancelled. Despite setbacks due to military coups, Turkish Republic has been on a path of continuous improvement in democracy since its beginning in 1923. Erdogan is draining the reputation that the Turkish Republic has gained in the international arena, pushing Turkey into the league of nations known for suffocating freedoms and jailing democratic dissenters. The ruling clique is exploiting diplomatic relations, mobilizing government personnel and resources to harass, haunt and abduct Hizmet movement volunteers all around the world.

In recent years, and in the face of such persecutions, Turkish citizens have remained relatively passive in conveying their democratic demands to their leaders. Concern for economic stability is one possible reason for this behavior. But if we backtrack from today, we can see that there is also a historic reason.

Despite the fact that democratic governance has been an ideal of Turkish Republic, democratic values have never been systematically ingrained into the Turkish society. Obedience to a strong leader and the state have always been a strong theme in educational curricula. The military coups, which happened almost every decade, did not give democracy a chance to take hold and progress. Citizens forgot that the state existed for the people and not vice versa. It can be argued that Erdogan took advantage of this collective psyche.

Turkish democracy may be in a coma due to the current leadership but I remain optimistic. Oppression does not last for too long. I believe that Turkey will one day return to the democratic path. However, for democracy to take root and be long lasting, several measures need to be taken.

First of all, the school curricula should be reevaluated. Topics such as equal rights for all citizens and fundamental human rights and freedoms should be taught to students in the first years of school so that they can be guardians of these rights when they grow up. Secondly, there is a need for a constitution that does not allow for either the minority or the majority’s domination and protects in every situation the fundamental human rights referred to in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Civil society and free press should be protected by the constitution to flourish and be part of the checks and balances against the state power. Thirdly, opinion leaders should emphasize democratic values in their rhetoric and action.

Turkey has now reached a point where democracy and human rights are put aside. It appears to have lost a historic opportunity to achieve a democracy by the standards of the European Union with  a majority Muslim population.

The leaders of a country are like the cream on top of a liquid. The cream is made of the same ingredients as the liquid underneath it. Leaders of a society, possibly with some level of inaccuracy or delay, reflect the beliefs and values of a society. I hope and pray that the recent sad experience of the Muslim majority countries lead to an awakening in the collective consciousness to produce democratically minded leaders and governments that uphold not only free an fair elections, but all fundamental human rights and freedoms.

Fethullah Gulen

Debate on “The Future of Gulen Movement in Europe”

Roundtable Lunch Discussion

The Future of Gülen Movement in Europe: Influence of Turkish Politics After the Coup Attempt

With  Prof. Johan Leman, KU Leuven University

Prof. Thijl Sunier, VU University Amsterdam

Tuesday, 7 February 2017 

WATCH FULL VIDEO HERE

Beginning as a grassroots community in Turkey in the 1970s, Hizmet (a.k.a. Gülen movement)  is a transnational social initiative active in education, interfaith dialogue and humanitarian aid over 180 countries including Europe.

Accused by president Erdogan for overthrowing his government first in 2013 after the corruption scandal and then failed coup attempt in July 2016, Gülen movement has been declared as terrorist organisation by the Turkish state and all of media, schools, universities, dormitories, associations and foundations affiliated with Gülen movement shut down by decree of law. Tens of thousands of people from the movement are in jail now and their private properties/companies are confiscated. The conflict between Erdoğan’s Turkey and Hizmet is extended and spilled into overseas. In some countries such as in Pakistan, Somalia; Erdoğan’s efforts to close down Hizmet schools were successful.

Facing the challenges coming from Turkey, the crucial question is to understand how the post-coup process is shaping the future of the movement, especially in Europe? Could movement sustain its activities outside Turkey?

Anthropologist Prof Sunier and Prof Leman have made the following presentations at the event:

Prof Sunier thinks that Hizmet Movement differs from other Islamic movements rooting to mystical tradition of Said Nursi. Nursi rejected himself being defined as Sheik (or master) and rather try to to balance the positive knowledge and religion. Fethullah Gulen is however not an exact follower of Sait Nursi. He managed to develop his own way formation on the route of faith.

Gulen Movement is not against the system nor in struggle to defeat it, but in favour of contributing to fix its moral building. According to the movement being a good Muslim is not enough. You should be successful in life as well. This recalls the active engagement in this world of Weber.

The coup in 1980 is milestone in Turkey’s economic development. Before 80s, Turkey suffered a weaker economy and was an insignificant country, however the economic development after 80s made it a part of world economy. Societal development is not unrelated to this economic development and Gulen Movement is part of this. Gulen Movement tried to engage with politics rather than opposing the developing system. Islam is known to be in the rural life which is backward. Cities traditionally belong to nearly only seculars. 80s economic developments and migration to the cities created new urban middle class bringing people to cities. Both AKP and Gulen Movement are part of this social development.

After 80s, Religious Muslims engaged in bureaucracy which belongs exclusively to non-religious before 80s. The followers of Gulen got positions everywhere in police, judiciary, academics, hospitals, army, schools and other state institutions etc. This is not infiltration but normal change in the course of socio economic development. This socio economical extended to Europe, causing similar impacts among the Turks in Europe.

Gulen people established institutions across Europe and this change was interpreted differently by European countries. Some welcomed this but some others didn’t. Until a few years ago German government was very happy with the developments in this respect. However Dutch government was always cautious. Two models of Islam in Europe being one the Mosque the other dialogue and education. Dutch Government prefers The Mosque model.

Prof Leman is in favour of dialogue and education as he thinks the Mosque is closed and incommunicable where dialogue and education is open to communication. Other social dynamics that will shape the future of current trend of social change in Europe include economic situation of Turks. Most Turks and Moroccans living in the West Europe lost their connection with their home lands as being already third generation immigrants. This caused gap between Turkey and local context.

The second is with the development of technology they can commute easier with their homeland ie planes etc. Local dynamics of Western Europe influence the religious life of Muslims in European context which creates differences the understanding in their homeland.

Prof Leman thinks that the Hizmet movement has certainly come a future but they need to be engaged in its core. He argues that even before the coup there were some challenges of Hizmet Movement. Leman says that whether they are good Muslims or not they are civilised. The other thing, dialogue and education are their pillars. Leman knows the movement and its founder well.

In May, two months before the coup, he was in the US have met with Fethullah Gulen. At the meeting in May 2016, Leman asked Gülen what should remain in the movement after his death. Fethullah Gulen’s answer was “the schools and interreligious dialogue”. According to Leman that’s also one that exhibits Hizmet must focus outside Turkey. “If you’re doing that, the Belgian and other Western governments will not adversely treat you”. He also said “there should be a way of communication with Muslims. You can’t communicate the Muslims in the mosque because they are closed but yes you can communicate with Muslims in schools through dialogue. If you can’t go into mosque system, stick to dialogue and education”.

Leman also quoted from journalist Nedim Sener who is hardcore anti-Gulen movement . He said “Sener divides Hizmet people into 3 categories: 1) Sympathizers. These are not necessarily in the movement actively, they observe and appreciate activities undertaken. He adds “I should be in this category” 2) Core people. Hizmet people support the movement actively, financially, mentally etc. 3) Hidden imams. These are people allegedly managing the movement who I never saw one. He also added this has been a tired as repeated for long time but there is no ground and evidence for this. If these do not exist stop saying that.

“Gülen himself is not responsible for the coup” is the opinion of Leman. “Just physically he was not able to do that.” He suspects earlier that “the coup was the work of a disgruntled, pluralistic grouping of Kemalists, among others, soldiers and, yes, some Gulenists. There were unavoidably Gulenists involved. There is no other way when you are in many positions in all sectors of society.”

Leman stressed that to be a multi-religious world movement, the Gulen movement must stay away from domestic Turkish politics and advised to the movement to stick to the core values.

Leman put some critics to the movement for not being more transparent mentioning the schools in Belgium not declaring its affiliation publicly. Furthermore “Hizmet behaves sometimes vague, almost mysterious, for example when it comes to the number of sympathizers they can’t give exact figures. When Dutch government asked the number of mosques in the Nederland the figures are clear but when you asked the GM institutions unclear. Do not do that. Be open. Trust the future of democracy. Otherwise, it would look like a sect.”

The event has continued with an hour question and answer session after the presentations as above.

 

Brides of ISIS

Roundtable Discussion on

Brides of ISIS: The Internet Seduction of Western Females into ISIS

with Dr. Anne Speckhard, Director of the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism

Thursday, 16 March 2017

EVENT REPORT:

The so-called Islamic State and self proclaimed Caliphate has indeed managed to seduce thousands of young men and women from Europe, the U.S., Canada and other Western countries into its ranks.  Of these, it is believed that roughly ten percent are female.  And they are increasingly lured into ISIS, not only by men urging them to join and even proposing marriage, but also by their female cadres who call to them over social media and instant messaging.  The percentage of French females joining ISIS is believed to be one of the highest in the West—at almost twenty percent.

Once inside the terrorist ranks ISIS women, we are told by those who blog from its inner circles, are expected to marry. Indeed ISIS is in the business of state building and the mujahideen—or “holy” warriors—need wives, if not sex. That is when they are not busied with raping their Yazidi sex slaves—something the escaped Yazidis claim their ISIS “lords” see as a spiritual duty for which they pray before and after assaulting them. This abuse of females apparently is not an issue for the Western female cadres, who like their men, see this all as part of Allah’s grand design.

The Western women who join ISIS, just like the Western men who also join, have by the time they reach Syria and Iraq become true believers—they’ve drank deeply of the “Jim Jones” purple Kool-Aid and don’t mind dying for the cause. In fact they welcome it. Women cadres in ISIS routinely tweet and message out of Syria and Iraq their fervent desire to be “martyred” and await the glory and blessings that they believe will accrue to them if their husbands are “martyred” before they die.

They also dismiss the ruthless bloodshed and sexual violence as necessary for the revolution—much like Lenin’s and Stalin’s purges were seen as cleansing actions to get to the final goal of communism. ISIS true believers trust that with bloodshed they are carrying out the work of Allah in reestablishing the Caliphate and that when it is restored all believers will live peacefully and euphorically by Islamic ideals.

Shannon Conley, on whose case I based my latest book, Bride of ISIS: One Young Woman’s Path Into Homegrown Terrorism was also seduced over the Internet.  After converting she fell under the influence of Anwar al-Awlaki, a Yemeni American who was droned by the U.S. in 2011 for his instigation and involvement in various terror plots against the United States, including the failed Christmas Day “underwear” bomber who tried to take a plane down over Detroit in 2009.  Al-Awlaki now dead, lives on via the Internet and inspires from beyond the grave, convincingly giving out the false message that all Muslims have a duty to go to the battlefield and carry out militant jihad until the End Times, and if they cannot do so must wage attacks at home.

Conley drank the poison and downloaded al Qaeda guerilla manuals, settling on carrying out a VIP attack inside the United States (she lived in Denver) until she realized she would likely not succeed.  In the meantime she fell in love with a Tunisian ISIS fighter with whom she carried out a relationship via Skype. When he proposed marriage she agreed to join him in Syria, although she took an Army Explorer’s course beforehand in the hope of gaining skills to assist the Islamic State.  Thankfully her father learned of her plans—he discovered her one-way ticket to “hell”—and alerted the FBI who arrested her on the airplane’s walkway.

The roles women take in terrorist organizations vary, but as said earlier, militant jihadi organizations are generally male dominated, and women may only take leadership roles over other women.  At this point women joining ISIS may take part in all-female brigades that enforce female morality dress standards and sex segregation, operate checkpoints, and go on home raids.  A Canadian woman is believed, based on the movement tracking her phone, to be working as an ISIS spy. Some of the most influential, like a woman who calls herself Umm Layth, have blogged and used social media to seduce other women into joining.  Such women paint a picture of life lived according to Islamic ideals, blissful marriages with ISIS fighters, as they hold the hope for “martyrdom” alongside the sacrifices necessary to bring about the hoped-for utopian state—no matter what violence that may entail.

Conservative militant jihadi groups often do not allow females into combat roles or use them as suicide bombers until the going gets tough.  In Chechnya, the more liberated roles of women in their society and the deep traumas occurring at the hands of ruthless Russian forces may have caused a different dynamic to play out.  Chechen women were the first to carry out suicide missions once the Chechen rebels embraced the “martyrdom” ideology imported into their movement. Chechen women filled out the ranks of suicide bombers at a fifty/fifty ratio throughout their campaign.  Palestinian, Iraqi and other terrorist groups with more conservative roles for women did not use them as suicide operatives until there was a clear advantage to doing so.  When terrorist leaders found that their men were no longer successfully passing checkpoints that women could still breach while hiding bombs on their bodies, they began to send women.

Chillingly, it has recently been revealed that ISIS now has a new marriage certificate which both husband and wife sign, that declares the final decision over the life and death of the ISIS bride rests with the Islamic State’s leader al-Baghdadi.  Under ‘conditions of wife’ it reads: ‘If the Prince of believers [Baghdadi] consents to her carrying out a suicide mission, then her husband should not prohibit her.’  This may suggest that the group is looking ahead to a similar transition in using female cadres for suicide missions.

While some have feared the Western “brides” have been subjected to group rapes, that fate appears to be reserved to Yazidi slaves primarily, and non ISIS local women whose family’s are forced to give them over to ISIS fighters, sometimes to be “married” repeatedly over a short time period by the ISIS cadres.  Western women who join ISIS generally Tweet and blog positive statements about their time in ISIS, citing both the hardships and the materials “blessings” of living in the stolen quarters of others, taking over their cars and other material goods. Although it’s clear from reports of those who escape, that Westerners who join ISIS—male or female—are not allowed to leave.  Reports of three London girls who joined, reported them in recent months on the run from ISIS, but no clear picture has emerged about their well-being, or lack thereof, in open sources to date.

It appears that as long as the idea of the longed-for Caliphate continues to carry its euphoric power, and ISIS continues to demonstrate some modicum of success in holding and governing territory, young girls who are angry or concerned over geopolitical events, who become convinced that militant jihad is their Islamic duty, and who feel off their track in the West, while simultaneously enticed via the Internet (often in person)—by adventure, romance and the call to live (as they imagine) by Islamic ideals while they contribute to building a longed for utopia—that they will continue to be seduced into the movement, and we will continue to see females leaving the West to become Brides of ISIS.

About the speaker:

Anne Speckhard, Ph.D. is Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University in the School of Medicine and Director of the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (www.ICSVE.org). She is author of Talking to Terrorists and coauthor of Undercover Jihadi. She was responsible for designing the psychological and Islamic challenge aspects of the Detainee Rehabilitation Program in Iraq to be applied to twenty thousand detainees and eight hundred juveniles. She also has interviewed nearly five hundred terrorists, their family members and supporters from various parts of the world including Gaza, the West Bank, Chechnya, Iraq, Jordan, Russia, Canada and many countries in Europe. Her newly released book is Bride of ISIS. Website: www.AnneSpeckhard.com

Reference for this article: Speckhard, Dec/Jan 2016, Brides of ISIS: The Internet Seduction of Western Females into ISIS.  Homeland Security Today Volume 13, 1, Pgs 38-40. http://edition.pagesuite-professional.co.uk//launch.aspx?eid=0d492b24-092f-4b2c-8132-b3a895356fc8 #ISIS

Source: http://www.icsve.org

Strong Voice Against Violent Extremism in Brussels

Over 250 Islamic scholars, academics and opinion leaders from all over the world convened in Brussels on 15 and 16 March to discuss the causes and counter-measures of radicalization, violent extremism and terrorism committed in the name of religion. Organised by Dialogue Platform and KU Leuven Fethullah Gülen Chair for Intercultural Studies, the symposium sent a strong and resounding message made all the more meaningful in the absence of a unified voice from the Muslim world.

CVE allFor more information about the symposium and the participating influencers, please visit counteringviolentextremism.eu

The symposium explored the complex links and interactions relating to religious texts, social circumstances and cultural contexts which lead to extremism and violence and provide opportunities to deepen understanding of the patterns of religious violence, its so-called justification as well as  the nature and scope of the moral responses to them. Furthermore, it aimed to stimulate and pool ideas on policy recommendations and community projects that would directly or indirectly undermine violent extremist ideology and recruitment especially within the context of Europe.

The specific questions posed by the symposium organisers to the speakers were:

* Is Islam inherently prone to violence?

* Do Muslims have a particular responsibility to counter violent extremism?

* What tangible steps should Islamic scholars take in countering violent extremism?

* How should we understand jihad today?

* How can we counter hate propaganda spread through social media?

* Does interfaith dialogue have a supporting role in countering violent extremist ideology?

* What should an Islamic studies curriculum look like?

* How can Muslim societies reignite their zeal for freedom of thought?

In first day, there were parallel sessions to discuss and debate these issues over eight workshops in the first day and three panel discussions in the second day. On the second day of the symposium, a final declaratory reflections was read out.

There were 57 speakers including opening speeches. 387 people were registered and attended to the symposium. Some of the key influencers that attended were Asma Afsaruddin, Indiana University, USA; Prof Said Chabbar, Sultan Moulay Slimane University, Morocco; President of the Council of Muslim Scholars, Indonesia; Bishop of Oslo-Norway, and experts on national security from a number of countries. Belgian Minister of Justice, Prof. Koen Geens sent his message to the symposium.

The symposium was broadcasted live on a number of worldwide TV stations.

Find below media coverage of the symposium:

‘De islam is niet de oorzaak van extremisme, wel de oplossing’

250 islamic scholars condem isis and present solutions to countering violent extremism in Brussels

Scholars from around the world gather in Brussels to debate roots of terrorism

Moslim experts veroordelen terrorisme welke frustraties drijven jongeren naar syrie

Onderzoek IS-tijdschrift: IS verspreidt knip-en-plak-islam en verantwoordt gruweldaden zoals nazi’s

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Europe and the Muslim World: Perceptions and Realities

Roundtable Lunch Discussion

with Prof. Mark Sedgwick, Aarhus University, Denmark

on Thursday, 25 February 2016, Dialogue Platform

At this event Prof Sedgwick has responded to the questions like to what extent perceptions are grounded in reality? What are the challenges of war, jihad and global terrorism?

Most of the individual Muslims who are best known in today’s Europe are not Western European Muslims but Middle Eastern Muslims such as Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. The public visibility of Muslims in Western Europe is in part a function of the public visibility of the Muslim world, and especially of the Middle East. And what is most visible is conflict.

This roundtable discussion asked why and looked into the political and cultural relations between Western Europe and the Muslim world.

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Reports Launch on “Rooting out Violent Extremism”

Reports Launch on “Rooting out Violent Extremism”

 Prof. Paul Weller, University of Derby

Ozcan Keles, Dialogue Society

Prof. Gino Schallenbergh, KU Leuven

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Dialogue Platform, Rue Montoyer 31, Brussels

Dialogue Platform has organise a roundtable discussion in light of two recent publications. The meeting has presented an interactive discussion on the publications and the issues that they raise in relation to understanding, communicating and strategising on how to counter violent extremism that claims an Islamic motivation.

Violent Extremism: Naming, Framing and Challenging (Dialogue Society, 2015) by Emma Jane Harris, Paul Weller and Victoria Bisset. In understanding the causes of violent extremism, with a view ultimately to tackling them, it is important to first consider the ways that stakeholders communicate about and around the subject. Drawing on a number of relevant fields such as cognitive linguistics, this report broaches the difficulties in naming ‘violent extremism’, offering examples of problematic language. The report commends some alternative narratives and approaches that can contribute to bringing about positive change in relation to this phenomenon. This report can be downloaded in full here.

A Hizmet Approach to Rooting out Violent Extremism (Centre for Hizmet Studies, 2015) by Ozcan Keles and Ismail Mesut Sezgin. This report offers a summary of Hizmet’s theological refutation of violent extremism. It shows how Hizmet’s core teachings act as a positive counter narrative to such extremism, and describes the channels through which Hizmet popularises that counter-narrative among the wider Muslim public. Drawing attention to the challenges associated with linear, traditional, reactive policy-making directly aimed at defeating violent extremist ideology head-on, the conclusion draws these three parts together explaining the nature and features of Hizmet’s deradicalisation by default approach which attempts to proactively address some of the underlying causes as they relate to ideology, mindset and inculcation. This report can be downloaded in full here

Speakers

Paul Weller is Professor of Inter-Religious Relations and Senior Research Fellow and Head of Research and Commercial Development at the University of Derby.

Ozcan Keles is a non-practising Barrister, a full-time doctoral candidate at the University of Sussex and the Chairperson of the Dialogue Society.

Discussant
Gino Schallenbergh is Professor of Islamic and Arabic Studies at KU Leuven and Gent University.

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Inspiration, Mindset, Relevance and Controversy

A conference on Hizmet (Gulen) Movement was organised at the European Parliament, hosted by Mr Lambsdorff MEP, vice president of European Parliament.

The Hizmet Movement has been attracting an increasing European and international attention. This is partly because the movement is now more visible due to its evolving transnational character and its increasing capacity to inspire more people to carry out projects primarily in the fields of education, intercultural understanding, respect for diversity and humanitarian aid. Besides, the movement has consistently and publicly taken a clear position against any kind of religious extremism and violence. On the other hand, the presence and activities of the Movement trigger some controversy. Some question to its objectives, organization style, role with politics and the extent of its impact.

Furthermore, the Hizmet Movement has recently become the open target of the then Turkish president Erdoğan and his allies. R. Tayyip Erdoğan constantly diabolized Mr. Fethullah Gülen, the inspirer of the Movement, and he led a witch hunt for the participants of the Movement in the country. In the past, the Hizmet Movement had supported AK Party policies which were progressive, pro-EU and more democratic. However, it then became a strong critic of the Erdoğan regime, opposing its increasingly authoritarian policies and laxity against the serious corruption charges.

The Movement is actively present in many European countries. Its participants have taken various initiatives and established schools, education/culture centers, dialogue organizations and businesspeople associations. Moreover, Mr. Gülen is among few (religious) leaders in Turkey which have consistently supported the EU peocess. The participants believe that Turkey deserves a well-functioning democray, better records in human rights, thus the EU is the best leverage to achive this. However, the movement similarly also faces critics from some groups in Europe.

Certain questions, then, call for reflection: What is the Hizmet Movement all about ? What makes its participants move? Is it a threat or an opportunity? How do they think on pertinent European issues? Why is there so much controversy surrounding the movement, particularly in Turkey?

This panel debate, first of its kind in the European Parliament, aims to bring insider perspectives to better position the mindset of the Movement, controversy about it as well as to inquire its relevance for Europe. There will be two panelists, Özcan Keleş, the chairperson of the London-based Dialogue Society and İhsan Yılmaz, associate professor at Faith University, Istanbul. While Mr. Keleş will reflect more on the inspiration, objectives and relevance of the Movement through his personal story, Dr. Yılmaz will reflect more on the current situation in Turkey and the Movement’s opposition. 


SPEAKERS:

Prof. Ihsan Yilmaz (Fatih University, Istanbul)

Ihsan Yilmaz is Associate Professor of Political Science at Fatih University, Istanbul, Turkey where he is also the Director of the PhD Programme in Political Science and International Relations at the university’s Institute of Social Sciences. He received his BA in Political Science and International Relations from the Bosporus University in 1994 and completed his PhD at the Faculty of Law and Social Sciences, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London in 1999. He is the author of (2005) Muslim Laws, Politics and Society in Modern Nation States: Dynamic Legal Pluralisms in England, Turkey and Pakistan, Aldershot, Ashgate.

He is the editor of Turkish Journal of Politics (TJP) and regular columnist of Today’s Zaman, an English language daily published in Turkey.

Possible topic with Prof Yilmaz: Turkey’s Current Challenges in Foreign Policy & Domestic Issues

Mr. Ozcan Keles – Chairman of Dialogue Society London

Ozcan is a non-practising Barrister and member of the Honourable Society of Gray’s Inn. He was the Executive Director of Dialogue Society from 2008 until September 2014. Between 2006 and 2009 Ozcan was a full-time Doctoral Candidate in Human Rights Law at the Human Rights Centre of the University of Essex, where he held the Scholarship Award of 2006.

He obtained his LLM in Human Rights Law from SOAS, University of London, in 2002.

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A documentary film on Hizmet Movement

Dialogue Platform has co-organised the Premiere of “LOVE IS A VERB” film together with the production company- Global Vision. The event took place at the prestigious Galeries Cinema in Grand Place, Brussels on 15th October.

Love is a verb is a documentary by Terry Spencer Hesser exploring the ordinary lives and stories of people in Hizmet, a social movement inspired by the Islamic scholar and teacher, Fethullah Gulen, and geared towards serving all people regardless of their faith and religion through dialogue, education and relief work. The documentary was narrated by Hollywood actress Ashley Judd and produced by Global Vision Productions.

200 guests were privileged to watch the film at the special event before it will be available to the public in spring 2015. The premiere has started with a welcome drink and followed by screening of the film. Afterwards, the guests had the opportunity to ask questions at the 30 minute Q&A session to the Director.

Dialogue Platform’s guests enjoyed the canapé reception at the end of the night where they also exchanged their thoughts each other on the film and the Hizmet Movement.

We have the pleasure the present a short video that our distinguished guests reflect their thoughts about the documentary and the work of Hizmet volunteers or Gulen Movement in general.

Reflections after the screening – VIDEO

Photos of the night

Watch trial & Directors Message – VIDEO

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.

Read EVENT REPORT

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