Gulen, Fethullah

(1941- )
   Fethullah Gulen has become the leader of the modern Nurculuk (Nurcu or Nur) movement in Turkey and is the author of more than 60 books. This new Nurcu movement has a powerful transnational darshane (originally, reading circle) network of schools in Turkey, central Asia, and the Balkans and also exercises a strong presence in the media. Gulen's writings and worldview (Abant Platform) seek to create a unity between religion and tradition on the one hand and science and modernity on the other. Gulen's Nurcu community stresses state-centric Turkic nationalism, the free market, and education.
   Although he has presented himself as a distinct, acceptable Islamic alternative to the other unacceptable political Islamists and regularly met with high-level politicians, the Turkish government accused Gulen in 2001 of working clandestinely to overthrow the secular order. He was acquitted in 2006. Since 1998, he has lived in the United States, in part at least for medical reasons, as he suffers from diabetes.
   More recently, Gulen's movement has turned some of its attention to the Kurdish problem in Turkey and across the border in the region of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Almost every town in southeastern Turkey now has a Gulen school, and many locals prize entry into them. In the KRG region, where the movement opened its first school over 15 years ago, there are now 15 of them. In November 2008, the Gulen movement even opened a university in Irbil, the capital of the KRG.
   The Gulen movement shares many views in common with the AK Party on how to deal with the Kurdish problem. For example, both use the rhetoric of a Golden Age at the time of the Ottoman Empire, when both the Turks and the Kurds were united by their Islamic faith. In appealing to the Kurds, Gulen also stresses that he began life as a follower of the renowed Islamic mystic Said Nursi, an ethnic Kurd. On the other hand, the Gulen movement's deep roots in Turkish nationalism represent a powerful obstacle to overcome in any attempt to appeal to the Kurds. Thus, many Kurds are liable to see the Gulen movement as opium that is seeking to assimilate them rather than help solve their problems as Kurds.

Historical Dictionary of the Kurds. .

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