Reflections on the Gulen Movement Conference in Senegal

Date posted: February 14, 2013

Alie Yunus Kallay

EBRU Review Magazine and Turkish-Senegalese Association for Atlantic Cultural Dialogue (ATSA) invited Muslims from all over the world to participate and present papers on the theme “Diversity and Cohesion in a Globalized World: Contributions of the Gülen Movement” in a seminar held in Dakar (Senegal), in collaboration with the Ministry of Education of Senegal and the University of Sheikh Anta Diop of Dakar (UCAD) on the 8th and 9th of February 2013.

Although globalization has now become an unavoidable reality, is viewed by many as a form of imperialism, it has caused fundamental changes to all sectors of the economy, sociology, communications policy, and the right to state governance. Clearly, globalization involves many risks as opportunities. However, because the future depends on the interaction of man with globalization, a new question is: how to address globalization to build a peaceful future? Recent and intense public debates have updated the issues of globalization and diversity. It is in this context that this symposium addressed the issue of socio-cultural diversity and contribution of civil society. Cultural differences, religious and ethnic lines, as part of the policy of diversity and multiculturalism are significant challenges to achieve the governmental authorities. More than integration and citizenship, mutual understanding and interaction dynamics are essential for establishing a common public space in which it is possible to express a sense of shared values, reduce disparities and polarization and build strong relationships. Increased diversity in public debates has greatly increased the role of thinkers, public organizations and private associations in achieving social cohesion involves an understanding positive and significant in the context of alternative policies. This symposium focused on a critical appreciation of the close links between diversity, social cohesion and globalization.

In this perspective, one of the objectives of this meeting was to present the implications of globalization for civil society, and analyze, in particular, the issue in the context of the contributions of the Hizmet movement, more generally known as of “Gülen movement.” How has the Gülen movement contributred to peaceful coexistence and mutual understanding of diversity in the context of a globalized world? The conference also examined such topics as transnational education system inspired by the ideas of Fethullah Gülen, intercultural dialogue, social cohesion, integration, religion and human rights.

Fethullah Gülen is one of the greatest Muslim scholars in the world that has motivated millions of people to engage and invest in social development by encouraging them to study modern science. Similarly, he urged them to maintain relations by strengthening intercultural dialogue. The volunteering, often used as indicators of the social contribution to public life, are essential elements of the Gülen movement. Its main objective is to develop peaceful relations and to provide a better understanding. To do this, it emphasizes the dynamic as education, dialogue and solidarity. This symposium presented the Gülen movement and its activities through the various contributions in the world and in various fields to form a cohesive society. Active in more than one hundred forty countries, many education centers and institutes dialogue function in a global vision that promotes positive action and respect for local, individual and cultural diversity. The Gülen movement has attracted millions of people in Turkey where he was born in the sixties and had progressively reached global. One of the movement’s schools has shown success in education in Senegal for nearly a decade. ATSA has encouraged intercultural dialogue exchanged through tours, meals or intercultural encounters inspired by ideas of Fethullah Gülen. The international conference featured speakers who have studied social movements and ideas of the latter. Participation, accommodation, food and transportation were provided and facilitated freely by the organizers.

Scholars that presented papers in the conference were drawn from various countries and universities around the world. Professor Mme Elena Biag of university of Milan, Italy, Professor M.Eric Geoffrey of Islamologue university of Strasbourg, France, Professor Marcia Hermansen from Canada, Professor Flip Stancio of Europ/Africa university, Romania, the minister of religious Affairs of Mali Mr Yakubu Traore, Dr. Omar Jah Jr. principal and vice chancellor of the university of Gambia, Mr Ibrahim Jakitay principal of Malian Arabic Institute, Professor Yasien Mohamed from Cape Town South Africa, Professor M. Herve Legrand of the Catholic University in France. Professor Alhaji Dr. Babatunde Karim of the University of Sierra Leone, Sheikh Abu Bakar Conteh of Freetown Teachers College, Mr. Abdul Qadr the Gulen Movement coordinator in Sierra Leone and Sheikh Alie Kallay represented Sierra Leone. Dr Mbai, Sheikh Abdu Rahman Jalloh and Hajah Maimuna Savage were on the Gambian side. Nearly 40 countries were in attendance including host country Senegal.

Source: Sierra Express Media, February 14, 2013

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