Are there any grounds on which the Gülen Movement can be described as a sect?
No, the Gülen Movement does not fit any of the criteria which are used to identify sects or cults. The Gülen Movement has never attempted to form a distinct unit within Islam. It is not a distinct unit within the broader Muslim community by virtue of certain refinements or distinctions of belief or practice. It is not a small faction or dissenting clique aggregated around a common interest, peculiar beliefs or unattainable dreams or utopia.
The Gülen Movement is already a well-established and transnationally recognized diffused network of people. It has no formal leadership, no shaykhs and no hierarchy. Participants do not undergo any procedures, ceremonies or have to pass any initiation in order to be affiliated or to take part in activities.
In wider Turkish society, Movement participants are not viewed as and do not act as any kind of closed, special group. Movement participants, with their words, projects and actions, have proved that they do not have any strongly held views or ideology that are regarded as extreme by the majority in Turkey and abroad. The public, the media and the courts do not regard them as heretical or as deviant in any way. Movement participants have not been accused of practicing anything different from the generally accepted religious tradition.
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