Does the Gülen Movement aim to express and reinforce old-fashioned and conservative patterns in society?
No. Although the values expressed by Fethullah Gülen and the Gülen Movement are traditional, the work of the Gülen Movement, as demonstrated by its sustained outcomes, leads steadily and reliably to modernizing innovation, to more balanced distribution of opportunity and effective welfare services. The scale and professional quality of the services managed by the Gülen Movement participants, outside as well as inside Turkey, have been widely acknowledged. Their administrative and operational successes have been achieved in extremely competitive environments, and sustained for over thirty years.
The successful secular education provided by the Gülen-inspired secondary- and tertiary-level institutions, the service-ethic mind-set associated with universal moral values grounded in Islam, combined with the cultural and professional training gained in both the receiving and the providing of modern education, has led to a marked horizontal and vertical social mobility in Turkey. It has contributed, in short, to a modernization of society – that is not something that could have been anticipated by the protectionist and vested interest groups within the power establishment in Turkey; it is an outcome that runs counter to their assumptions (and prejudices) about any mobilization that strives to make an intelligent, enriching use of the human and cultural resources of the lands and history of the Turkish people.
However, the positive outcomes of the Gülen Movement’s work can hold only so long as the state does not impose a bureaucratic centralist approach on society as a whole. Such an approach extends arbitrary controls (for example, raids into civil society SMOs by legally unauthorized military personnel) impedes participatory processes and the democratic rights expressed through those processes, but strengthens the protectionist mechanisms and exclusivist values that make society less and less “open.”
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