Altruistic Society or Sect? the Shadowy World of the Islamic GĂźlen Movement
Millions of Muslims around the world idolize Turkish preacher Fethullah GĂźlen, who likes to present himself as the Gandhi of Islam. His GĂźlen movement runs schools in 140 countries and promotes interfaith dialogue. But former membersÂ describe it as a sect, and some believe the secretive organization is conspiring to expand its power in Turkey.
The girl is singing a little off-key, but the audience is still wildly enthusiastic. She is singing a Turkish song, although her intonation sounds German. The room is decorated with balloons, garlands in the German national colors of black, red and gold, and crescent moons in the Turkish colors of red and white. Members of the audience are waving German and Turkish flags.
The Academy cultural association is hosting the preliminaries of the âCultural Olympicsâ in a large lecture hall at Berlinâs Technical University. Thousands of people have come to watch the talent contest. They applaud loudly when a choir from the German-Turkish TĂźdesb school sings âMy Little Green Cactus.â And they listen attentively when a female student recites a poem, while images of women holding children in their arms appear on the screen behind her. The poem is called âAnne,â the Turkish word for âmother.â The name of the poemâs author, Fethullah GĂźlen, appears on the screen for a moment.
Everyone in the auditorium knows who GĂźlen is. Millions of Muslims around the world idolize GĂźlen, who was born in Turkey in 1941 and is one of the most influential preachers of Islam today. His followers have founded schools in 140 countries, a bank, media companies, hospitals, an insurance company and a university.
The cultural association hosting the contest at the Berlin university is also part of the GĂźlen movement. Hence it isnât surprising that many participants attend GĂźlen schools, that companies associated with GĂźlen are sponsoring the cultural Olympics, and that media outlets with ties to GĂźlen are reporting on it.