What has evoked hostility towards the Gülen Movement?

Fethullah Gülen

It is the success of the Gülen Movement’s mobilization that has evoked considerable hostility in some quarters. Leaving aside envy, which is simply a psychological issue, there are a number of political, ideological, and financial factors motivating this hostility. First of all, any collective mobilization – not only or particularly the Gülen Movement – that is not initiated by the protectionist groups within the power establishment is viewed with disfavor by the establishment; the establishment tends to regard any independent collective action as a potential threat to itself. If an independent collective mobilization proves its success or efficacy, the establishment mobilizes against it because the mobilization encroaches upon territory that vested interest groups within the establishment need to monopolize for their own purposes. Those in the establishment work to prevent or limit the action of the civic mobilization so that they can pursue their own projects and schemes and retain their hold on the levers of power.

Moreover, the Gülen Movement’s mobilization draws on cultural codes and traditions that the protectionist groups within the establishment in Turkey wish to suppress. The militant secularist elite prefers to represent Islam and Muslims to the public as radical and backward, but the discourse and action of Gülen and Movement does not permit the elite to successfully perpetuate in the public space that negative view of Islam and Muslims. In addition, the Gülen Movement succeeds in educating huge numbers of people from outside the established elite by teaching them foreign languages and providing scholarships for study in foreign countries. This also makes the establishment feel threatened because they fear losing their control of the country and its resources. These factors explain why they particularly and very publicly chose to target Gülen himself and the Movement. They have targeted them as a smokescreen to distract public attention (and legal scrutiny) away from their own financial and ideological schemes.

In spite of the establishment’s hostility, the Gülen Movement’s projects and activities have educated and trained many thousands of people. the Gülen Movement has provided people with moral orientation and guidance that makes them orderly, law-abiding citizens, an effort that has improved and modernized society, widened opportunity, etc. In doing all this, the Gülen Movement has systematically avoided contentious or adversarial action, so that its work should strengthen public order and social cohesion, and so that it should not be used (or construed) as a threat to the power or authority of the state and its institutions.

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