Graham E. Fuller
The success, power and growing influence of the Gülen movement (Hizmet) has in turn generated critics. The major source of criticism of Hizmet has come, unsurprisingly, from Kemalist elites who, as a social and political force, have been losing their former political dominance. Radical Kemalists have traditionally viewed Gülen, the Nursi movement and all other religious organizations as subversive, obscurantist, reactionary, and a threat to the secular state that Kemalism and the army are sworn to uphold. They see Hizmet’s success as representing the undoing of the secular accomplishments of the Kemalist state and its anti-religious firewalls.
But times have changed. Society has liberalized, urbanization has burgeoned, new generations and new social backgrounds and a broadened middle class with bourgeois values have all emerged onto the social scene. Attitudes across Turkey have shifted, reflecting these major new demographic and social realities. There is a new level of appreciation and comfort in Turkey with the former religious and cultural Ottoman Islamic identity. There is more relaxation about women wearing headscarves in public institutions, with expressions of public piety, or the existence of religiously-oriented organizations. Even Kemalists appreciate Turkey’s successful negotiation onto a globalized economy and greater clout abroad. None of this means there is significant sentiment in Turkey to create “an Islamic state,” or to apply Shari’a law; the Gülen movement itself categorically rejects any such quest. Hizmet explicitly accepts the reality of a modern secular Turkish society in an increasingly secular world; it has no trouble in embracing secularism as long as the state remains neutral towards legal religious activity and is not hostile to its activities as before.
Hizmet members furthermore believe that a moral movement like their own should not depend upon or need the state and, indeed, might even be corrupted by the state through direct association with its power.
Graham E. Fuller. “Turkey and the Arab Spring – Leadership in the Middle East.” Bozorg Press. 2014. Pages 169-70
Probably the lack of transparency theme is the one that might seem to garner most traction. However, given that prosecutors have twice attempted to shut down all Gülen-related…