May 3, 2016

While Erdogan Demonizes a Peaceful Movement, International Community Applauds Them

Aydogan Vatandas

It is no secret that the corruption scandal on December 17, 2013 that encircled the Turkish government was one of the biggest threats to Erdogan’s rule since he took the office in 2003.

Since then, Erdogan has been accusing Mr. Fethullah Gulen and his movement of conspiring against him through a corruption graft and vociferously claiming that the Gulen movement is a terrorist organization.

May 2, 2016

'Hizmet is a movement with principles, with spirituality that appeals to people'

Fikir Atlasi*, Episode 44 (Full text)

My name is Jim Harrington**. I am the director of the Texas Civil Rights Projects. I also teach at the University of Texas.

Well, I think I first got introduced to Hizmet Movement back in 2008, which is about 6 years ago. And I think my views over the period of that time have obviously changed and grown. I have come to see the Hizmet Movement really as a community service organization but service in a deeper sense, not just providing food or else but also trying to build a community working with people and the community, different faiths, different economic groups. So I see that, that kind of movement that has some depth to it and also motivated by folks and their faith.

May 1, 2016

Marked by Obama message, Int’l Festival of Language and Culture takes stage in Washington

Children from different countries took stage at Washington DC’s largest concert hall, DAR Constitution Hall, as part of the 14th International Festival of Language and Culture on Thursday.

Erdoğan threatens to bring ‘terror’ charges against those who ‘still’ support Gülen

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has vowed to level terror charges at those who continue to support the Gülen movement, a global civil society group regarded as a “terrorist” organization by the Turkish president, saying they “would approve of what would happen to them.”

April 30, 2016

President Obama sends message to The International Festival of Language and Culture

US President Obama sends a message to Gulen-inspired “The International Festival of Language and Culture” that took place in Washington DC at the DAR Constitution Hall, Washington DC’s largest Concert Hall on April, 2018, 2016. The hall that has a seating capacity of 3700 witnessed a historic evening as 125 young people from some 25 countries represented their countries with music and dance performances.

Turkey: A masterpiece of culture and sciences

Mohammed Azhar Ali Khan*

Growing up in British India I loved Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Saudi Arabia because if houses the holy cities. Turkey because of its contributions to arts, culture and sciences and because of its welcome to people fleeing persecution, including, historically, Jews from Spain.

April 29, 2016

The world needs more song and dance than war

Speaker of the South African National Assembly Baleka Mbete says the world needs more song and dance than war.

Speaking during the 14th edition of the International Festival of Language and Culture at Nelson Mandela Theatre on Thursday evening, Mbete, who was guest of honor, said rather than seeing people fight, she would love to see them sing and dance.

Johannesburg hosts 14 countries for international festival

On 20 April, the City of Johannesburg hosted 50 talented school-going delegates in Melrose Arch at a dinner event ahead of the International Festival of Language and Culture (IFLC).

April 28, 2016

Galatasaray errs on side of political caution ending kit sponsorship with Dumankaya

Mark Baber

The board of one of Turkey’s biggest clubs – Galatasaray FC – have terminated their kit sponsorship deal with Dumankaya Construction for seemingly pro-Erdogan government reasons. The company’s owners have been listed as suspected of having provided charitable donations to the moderate Islamic, US-based, Gülen Movement.

AK Party set to shut down eight more critical TV channels, CHP deputy claims

A deputy from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Barış Yarkadaş, has claimed that the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government will take action soon for the termination of broadcasting contracts of eight more critical channels.

April 27, 2016

Book Review: A Hizmet Approach to Rooting out Violent Extremism

Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi*

The violent extremist ideology cannot be rooted out until an effective, coherent, comprehensive and well-reasoned counter-narrative is evolved. For that, all the theological, religious, political, historical, instrumental and socio-psychological underpinnings of the global jihadism have to be counter-argued and dismantled. “A Hizmet Approach to Rooting out Violent Extremism” by Ozcan Keles and Ismail Mesut Sezgin produces a case study in this context. It provides a critical and detailed analysis of the Hizmet’s refutations of the ideological, theological and text-based rhetoric of the violent extremism, which could be aptly termed ‘radical jihadism’.

April 26, 2016

Dr. Hassencahl on Fethullah Gulen and Hizmet (aka the Gulen Movement) | Fikir Atlasi - Episode 43

Fikir Atlasi*, Episode 43 (Full text)

I’m Fran Hassencahl** and I’m in the Department of Communication and Theater Arts. I’m a professor there and I teach courses in intercultural communication. I just finished teaching a course, still teaching a course, on the Arab Spring.

April 25, 2016

Turkey's coups

Nuray Mert

The Supreme Court of Appeals has overturned convictions in the Ergenekon coup plot trial as the alleged Ergenekon Terror Organization could not be found and identified. The Ergenekon probe dates back to 2007 after a cache of explosives found at the home of a former military officer was alleged to be part of a big conspiracy against the government. Then it was tied to the separate “Balyoz” (Sledgehammer) coup plot, but that was ended, too, when it was proved that evidence against the plotters was fabricated.

April 24, 2016

Persecution of the Gülen Movement in Turkey

The Gülen (a.k.a Hizmet) movement, a faith-based community, has been subject to political persecution for more than two years by the Turkish government since they stood up against corruption and injustice under the rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan has publicly called for a “witch hunt,” and arrests, threats, and harassments have now become a routine for participants and sympathizers of the movement. According to security officials, as of April 2016, as many as 2,261 individuals have been detained, 501 of them have been sent to jail, and 623 have been released on probation.(1) The detainees are people from all walks of life including businessmen, doctors, teachers, academics, police officers, philanthropists and even housewives. Most recent incidents include:

April 23, 2016

Turkish government unlawfully cancels passports of critics, columnist says

The Turkish government, which has stepped up its crackdown on critics, especially members of the Gülen movement, has unlawfully cancelled the passports of a number of people who are told that their passports had been registered as “lost” by petitions they say they never filed, a columnist has claimed.

April 22, 2016

Aslandogan: ‘Journalism in coma, Erdogan controls everything’

Turkish people can’t access objective news, as journalism is oppressed and controlled by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Dr. Y. Alp Aslandogan, who is President of the Alliance for Shared Values and a Board Member of the Gulen Institute, told RT.

April 21, 2016

Rumi Forum Hosts Religious Extremism Debate

As President Barack Obama pledges to step up the fight against the Islamic State group, people in Charlottesville hope to help however they can.

On Thursday the Rumi Forum gathered to take a look at what leads to religious extremism.

April 20, 2016

Everything you've ever wanted to know about Fethullah Gulen, Turkey's most controversial cleric*

Murat Bilgincan

As 2015 came to a close, the Grand Ballroom of the Conrad Hotel in Manhattan presented a diverse tableau: Around the meticulously set tables sat Muslim women wearing colorful headscarves with oriental motifs, African-American clergymen from Queens, Jewish students from a Turkish charter school and veteran New York state politicians.

Pro-gov’t daily ordered to pay compensation over ‘fabricated’ story on Erdoğan’s daughter

Staunchly pro-government Akşam daily has been ordered to pay compensation to an opposition deputy for printing “fabricated” Twitter conversations of him with a journalist which it claimed indicated a plan to “assassinate” the daughter of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

April 19, 2016

"The Hizmet Movement represents a very positive view of Islam"

Fikir Atlasi*, Episode 42 (Full text)

My name is William Martin. I am Emeritus Professor Sociology at Rice University, and currently, the Senior Fellow for Religion and Public policy at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy, also at Rice.

April 18, 2016

Philanthropist targeted in witch-hunt operation in Erzurum passes away

A 91-year-old man, Alaattin Öksüz, who came to public attention in February when police officers attempted to detain him as part of an operation targeting the faith-based Gülen movement, has died.

April 17, 2016

Tolerance and Hospitality as a virtue in Gulen’s Teachings

Tolerance is defined as allowing someone or something to exist without interference. In social and political settings, it means to let other opinions and practices that are different than ours to exist and thrive. Aristoteles defines virtues as being balanced and determining prudently in any given human condition. As a virtue, we can argue, tolerance is choosing wisely in how we decide to treat diversity. Tolerance as a virtue did not appear until the end of religious strife in the 16th century Europe. Europeans came to understand that peaceful coexistence can only happen if other ideas and views are treated with respect. Initially it did not expand to adherents of other religions but contemporary Europe has this very well established.

April 16, 2016

State Department Report Slams Turkey on Human Rights and Press Freedom

Aydogan Vatandas

The United States accused Turkey of restricting civil rights and violating basic human rights in a long annual human rights report released on Wednesday.

April 15, 2016

Complainant says he was ‘fooled,’ apologizes to suspects in trial targeting Gülen followers

Thirteen suspects who were detained as part of an operation targeting followers of the Gülen movement in the central province of Sivas were released after the complainant in the case apologized to them at court and withdrew his complaint, saying he was “forced” by some to launch the case.

'Erdoğan is killing journalism,' says Today's Zaman editor forced out after takeover

Since the Turkish daily Zaman and its English-language sister publication Today's Zaman were taken over by court-appointed trustees last month, over accusations of terrorist propaganda, the papers' journalists have witnessed riot police fill their newsrooms, the arrests of colleagues, and the loss, through resignations and dismissals, of fellow journalists.

April 14, 2016

European Parliament adopts Turkey report deploring serious backsliding on democracy

The European Parliament has adopted an annual progress report on Turkey which strongly criticized the deteriorating situation of democracy and fundamental rights in the country.

US human rights report slams Turkey over freedoms, justice system and security

The Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, released annually by the U.S. State Department, has provided a snapshot of the deteriorating human rights environment in Turkey, stressing that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government’s interference with freedom of expression, arbitrary application of laws and inadequate protection of civilians in the country’s southeast pose great threats to civil rights and liberties.

Student donations for sacrificial animals treated as criminal activity in Zonguldak

Tax inspectors who examined the accounts of five private educational institutions in the Black Sea province of Zonguldak whose management has recently been taken over by trustees, have found out that students at these educational institutions were encouraged to make donations for a sacrificial animal ahead of an Eid al-Adha holiday, the state-run Anatolian News Agency reported on Wednesday.

Don’t be fooled by Hizmet conspiracy theories

Y. Alp Aslandogan*

The March 31 opinion article by London-based attorney Robert Amsterdam (“Why should Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen operate charter schools on US Military bases?”) that appeared on The Hill’s Congress Blog was as flawed in content as it was in character.

80,000 unsubscribed from Digiturk after its removal of critical channels

Digiturk TV cable network lost 80,000 of its subscribers in the last quarter of 2015 after it removed seven TV channels, that were thought to be critical of the government, from its platform, according to a recent report released by the Information Technologies Board (BTK).

April 13, 2016

Mr. Fethullah Gülen's interview for Moskovskiy Komsomolets newspaper

Director of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) Vitaly Naumkin has made an interview with Mr. Fethullah Gülen in Pennsylvania, the US. In the interview that was published at one of Russia's most popular newspapers, Moskovskiy Komsomolets (MK), Mr. Gülen talked about the aircraft crisis between Russia and Turkey, the divided state of the Muslim world, secularism, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and terrorism. "Certain things done [the Turkish government] in recent years were wrong. The downing of that warplane was wrong," he said.

EP Turkey report slams media takeovers, calls for restoration of managements

An annual progress report on Turkey that will be voted on by the European Parliament (EP) on Thursday calls on Turkish authorities to remove government-backed managers assigned to media groups recently seized and to reappoint journalists fired for their dissatisfaction over the government takeover.

Cultural diaspora

It is always seen that youth living abroad have opportunity to go on tours to different countries to learn from their culture. But for them to understand the intricacies, International Festival of Language and Culture (IFLC) is being held in various countries since its inception in 2003. This year the IFLC is going to be held in the national Capital where students from across the world are going to participate.

April 12, 2016

GYV slams slanderous accusations seeking to link Hizmet to terrorist PKK

The Journalists and Writers Foundation (GYV) has responded to a series of controversial claims and slanderous accusations that aim to associate the faith-based Gülen movement, also known as Hizmet movement, with the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), stressing once again that Hizmet rejects all kinds of violence.

The Commissioner for Political Affairs opened the 14th International Festival of Language and Culture

H.E. Dr. Aisha Laraba Abdullahi, Commissioner for Political Affairs of the African Union Commission opened the 14th International Festival of Language of Culture, which was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 09 April 2016, under the theme “Colours of the World”.

Turkish police raid television station HQs

Teams from the İstanbul Police Department raided the İstanbul headquarters of Samanyolu TV network after an Istanbul court appointed trustees to fourteen more companies over their alleged links to the Kaynak Holding, which was seized by trustees in a government-led move last year.

Pro-gov’t daily repeats Bharara controlled by Gülen movement, calls him ‘stupid’

One of the staunchly pro-government newspapers in Turkey, the Star, daily has repeated earlier claims about a US attorney, saying that he is controlled by the faith-based Gülen movement and “stupid.”

April 11, 2016

Dialogue and Friendship Dinner Unites Multi-Cultural, Faith Groups

Against the backdrop of the San Antonio skyline, members of various religious and cultural groups from every corner of the city broke bread and shared a thoughtful discussion during the Dialogue Institute of the Southwest‘s 11th Annual Dialogue and Friendship Dinner on Thursday.

April 10, 2016

'Hizmet Movement is committed to the most idealistic notions of dialogue, education and social justice'

Fikir Atlasi*, Episode 41 (Full text)

I’m Professor Roberta Rosenberg** and I teach at Christopher Newport University, which is part of the state university system in Virginia.

I have been here for a number of years. I teach in the English Department. I teach courses in multi-cultural American literature and Women’s Studies, and I co-direct the Women’s and Gender Studies program. I also started the Civic Engagement Center here.

My views on the Hizmet Movement are very positive because Hizmet, of course, means service and service is something that I think is extremely important for all people. It’s something that I’ve started on my campus too.

April 9, 2016

To embrace the spirit of acceptance and tolerance

Henelito A. Sevilla Jr.*

The world has judged the two attacks in Paris and Brussels, which claimed a number of lives and damaged property, as associated with Islamic-inspired terrorism. The attacks also delivered the psychological message that acts of terror and hatred can occur even in the most prosperous and highly secured countries that respect diversity and human rights. But whatever the root causes of terrorism in these countries, it is always wrong to use religion to justify the killing of innocent civilians anywhere in the world.

Yobe, Turkish Institutions Team Up To Boost Education

The Yobe State Government will scale up its educational partnership with the Nigeria-Turkish International Colleges (NTIC) and the Nigeria-Turkish Nile University (NTNU) in order to offer more opportunities to Yobe students.

April 8, 2016

Nizamiye Will Perform 15,000 Cardiac Procedures In Nigeria

Media Consultant Cemal Yigit runs a media and production company for a large number of Turkish multi-corporations in Nigeria. In this interview with Chikelu Chinelo, he speaks on the philosophy of the Hizmet movement which gave wings to the multi-corporations and 100 scholarship the Turkish Schools off Nigerians annually as well as the impact of Turkish companies and charitable foundations in the lives of Nigerians and the Nigerian economy.

April 7, 2016

Call out Erdogan for authoritarian drift

Alp Aslandogan

Visiting heads of state frequently make time in their Washington itineraries to deliver speeches on key issues. But as the Brookings Institution hosted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week, events outside the venue took an ugly turn.

April 6, 2016

The Preventive Role of Culture in Women’s Empowerment: Possibilities and Challenges

On the occasion of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW60), Peace Islands Institute, The Journalists and Writers Foundation, UN Women Liberia, Ufuk Dialogue Foundation, The Rainbow Intercultural Dialogue Center and the Thailand Achievement Institute collaborated to organize a side-event entitled “The Preventive Role of Women in Women’s Empowerment: Possibilities and Challenges” on 17 March 2016 at the United Nations Headquarters.

April 5, 2016

Do people take part in the Gulen movement or are they recruited by it?

Gökhan Bacık and Ümit Kurt

The significance of the Gulen Movement that has attracted the most scholarly attention is its development of certain networks that transcend national boundaries (West 2006, 284). More critical than its global presence as an institution is the Movement’s capacity to recognize local actors in extra-national contexts. The Movement is not chary of expanding its societal basis. Rather, it sees enlargement as a major networking strategy (Ozipek 2010). ‘Recruitment’ is not the adequate term for characterizing the link between a social movement and people, for participation in such a movement takes place in various ways (Ebaugh 2009). (Creating alternative forms of participation is a serious indicator of the societal capacity of a social movement.)

April 4, 2016

IFLC going to Win Indian Hearts on May 07 at New Delhi

On 7th May 2016, the spectacular IFLC event will be organized in India for the very first time, where school students from all around the world will sing, dance and act to develop universal harmony and brotherhood at Talkatora Stadium, New Delhi. The theme of the 14th IFLC event (India) is “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam - ‘The world is one family’. Mrs. Sushma Swaraj (Minister of External Affairs), Mr. Venkaiah Naidu (Minister of Parliamentary Affairs), Dr. Najma Heptullah (Minister of Minority Affairs), Dr. Mahesh Sharma (Minister of Tourism and Culture), Mr. Arvind Kejriwal (CM of Delhi), Shri Shri Ravi Shankar, Baba Ramdev and many other dignitaries (MPs, Celebrities, Spiritual Leaders) are going to make this event more colorful and vibrant with their august presence.

April 3, 2016

Solving the Paradox: How to be a Balanced Muslim

Maimul Ahsan Khan

This is Gulen’s most unique achievement. He did not give up his own religious practice in any areas of his activities and also extended his cooperation and collaboration with many other peaceful groups of activists dedicated to good works of social progress and cultural enlightenment. A major problem with the orthodox Islamic interpretation is that it gives too much importance to outer aspect of Islamic rituals at the cost of inner values ingrained in them As a result, many religious groups have become simply ritualistic in their behaviors and tend to ignore responsibility toward society at large and their fellow citizens in particular.

April 2, 2016

Turkish Islam vs. Islamic universalism – Is the Gülen Movement relevant to non-Turkish Muslims?

Graham Fuller

Does the Gülen Movement embrace and promote “Turkish Islam?” Is there enough Islamic universalism within the Gülen move­ment to make it relevant for non-Turkish Muslims? (1)

Thousands bid farewell to Turkish teacher killed in Somalia

Thousands of people joined funeral prayers held for Hıdır Çalka, a Turkish teacher who was among five people who were killed when unidentified gunmen attacked a school bus carrying students, teachers and school staff in Mogadishu on Wednesday, in İstanbul on Saturday.

April 1, 2016

Moldovan Minister of Culture meets the participants of the International Festival of Language and Culture

On March 24, 2016, Deputy Minister of Culture Igor Șarov met participants from 15 countries who arrived at the International Festival of Language and Culture, edition of 2016 which will take place on March 26, at the National Palace „Nicolae Sulac” from Chișinău.

March 31, 2016

Condemnation and condolence message on occasion of the terror attack against a school bus in Mogadishu, Somalia

M. Fethullah Gülen

The terror attack in Somalia’s city of Mogadishu on a school bus, which resulted in the loss of five beautiful friends and the injuries of others, among whom were school-aged children, has once again wrenched our hearts already wounded by recent tragedies.

Erdogan's vendetta against moderate Muslims threatens Turkey's role in War on Terror

Emre Celik*

Using tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets, Turkish police recently seized control of the country’s largest-circulation daily newspaper, Zaman.

Turk, Azerbaijani volunteers murder earns condemnation

Turkish Foreign Affairs Ministry has confirmed that one of its nationals operating in Mogadishu was among six people killed in drive-by shooting on Wednesday afternoon, Garowe Online reports.

Two teachers among five killed in terrorist attack in Mogadishu

Five people, including two volunteer expat teachers, were killed when unidentified gunmen attacked a school bus carrying students, teachers and school staff in the Somali capital Mogadishu on Wednesday, police said.

March 30, 2016

Fethullah Gulen Condemns the Terrorist Attack in Lahore, Pakistan and Extends Condolences to Relatives of Victims

I have learned with grief about the horrible terrorist attack in Lahore, Pakistan that took 70 lives, majority of whom women and children, and injured over three hundred people on a children’s playground. I condemn this attack in the strongest terms and on this sad occasion I reiterate my condemnation of all forms of terror regardless of their perpetrators or their stated purposes.