Gulen Movement’s Global Appeal: Reflections from Chicago

Kadri Gursel
Kadri Gursel


Date posted: November 30, 2010

Kadri Gürsel

Yesterday, in the column I talked about the 12.000 “ashuras” in Chicago by the supporters of the Gulen Movement. Ashura, called Noah’s Pudding in English, is said to represent “living together in peace”. Chickpeas, bean, wheat, and some dried fruits are among the ingredients of Ashura that creates a mixed taste. But while doing this they manage to keep their identities.

In United States, it is easy to be Ashura as the founding values make it possible for a mixed taste to occur. Whereas in Turkey, the clash of the values make it hard for these tastes to share the same pot.

Let’s go back to those who served Ashura in the States. The assistant general manager of the Gulen Movement’s most powerful association Niagara Foundation Hakan Berberoglu said among the places they served Ashura, were colleges, churches, and even the FBI’s division in Chicago. He also said 3.500 of the 12.000 Ashuras were served there in the FBI building. It’s the FBI, (Federal Bureau of Investigation) USA’s federal police…

It’s not an everyday happening for someone to serve Ashura in the FBI building. Especially after the 9/11, a Muslim association must build really good relations and gain great deal of trust to be able to do this. Obviously Niagara Foundation managed it. The fact that FBI’s chief officer in Chicago Robert D. Grant gave a speech in the foundation approximately three years ago shows this trust. We all know that Gulen’s supporters would like to build good relations with the authority wherever they go. I respect this if they explain their Ashura serving to the FBI, as a fruit of this will. What I’m really into it is the impression Ashura left in the minds of the FBI officers.

There’s said to be 100.000 Muslims living in Chicago and if there’s any terrorists between them FBI’s one of the most critical missions is finding and neutralizing them. So we can assume that they have this “Muslim Terrorist image” somewhere in their mind.

And as Hakan Berberoglu puts it, Gulen’s supporters, no matter where it is in the USA, appear not only in front of FBI but also all the authorities, not as terrorists but as Muslims with good images who are in interaction with every walk of life. Their messages and actions are in accordance with this appearance. They talk about tolerance, peace and dialogue and the emphasis they place on education and commerce in their actions is easy to be seen. Moreover they are not anti-Americans. So their image being just the opposite of the “Muslim Terrorist” in FBI officers’ mind shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Therefore, we can assume that, this positive image appeared in the mind of FBI’s Chicago officers is reflected on the Washington D.C.’s big picture and this image is constituting an antidote against  USA’s global issue of “Islamic extremism”. This is the global domino effect started by just a glass of Ashura served in FBI’s Chicago Office.

It also shouldn’t come as a surprise that Gulen Movement is seen by some circles in USA as a rational answer within Islam to all the problems encountered because of the Islamic extremism from violence to all others.

At the Gulen Conference in Chicago this positive perception was expressed in various aspects. Speakers, mostly Americans, were the ones studying Gulen Movement for a long time.

I’m concluding the column by quoting the ones that i find interesting to give you an idea about the perception I’ve mentioned above;

“Carter Findley (Ohio University): In the 21st century, the Gulen Movement may manage to make the impact Gandhi made in the 20th century.

Jeremy Walton (New York State University): It is a post-modern socio-politic movement and after all they have no intention to impress the state.

Greg Barton (Monash University, Australia) Among all the international movements the Gulen Movement is the only one that is proggresivist. The others are Islamists and Islamic cause-centered.

Jon Pahl (Theologian, Temple University): Gulen’s pragmatic mystysism is serving the purpose of global peace.”

Source: Original article was published by Milliyet daily on November 29, 2010 http://www.milliyet.com.tr/gulen-hareketi-nin-kuresel-cazibesi/kadri-gursel/dunya/yazardetay/29.11.2010/1319792/default.htm

 


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