Is the Gülen Movement a political movement, action or actor?
No. A political movement presses for a different distribution of roles, rewards or resources in society and therefore clashes with the power which imposes rules within the structural organization of the state; a non-political movement strives for a more efficient functioning of the system or apparatus of society or, in fact, for that system’s more successful outcomes. It does not pass the established limits of the system or its written and unwritten rules, regulations and norms. The Gülen Movement fits the description of a non-political movement, so despite being a collective action or mobilization, it cannot be said to be a political movement.
How does the Gülen Movement differentiate between cultural and political action?
The Gülen Movement’s discourse and practice demonstrate a consistent understanding of the separation between the cultural efforts and actors that can bring an issue to light and the political efforts and actors that may then carry that issue into the political arena. The Gülen Movement’s worldview and habitual or customary social practice demonstrate that it is not a political actor, and that it systematically differentiates between socio-cultural issues and political action.
Through the outcomes of institutionalized social projects, the Gülen Movement turns into a catalyst allowing societal needs to be seen and analyzed within new conceptual frameworks. Those outcomes prove that the level of individual meanings and cultural dimensions is more significant than the political level. Such dimensions and meanings are often not easily and quickly identifiable, so politics and politicians can ignore and eliminate them from their analysis between election periods.
The Gülen Movement highlights the importance of an open civil society and public spaces because these provide an arena for the consolidation of democratic institutions and for the peaceful encounter between politics and social movements and altruistic services.
Is the Gülen Movement a claimant movement?
No. A claimant movement seeks to defend the advantages enjoyed by a separate group or to get a bigger piece of the “cake” of public funds or other resources for an underprivileged ethnic, religious, social or political group. The Gülen Movement does not do this, so it cannot be described as “claimant.”
The Gülen Movement does not mobilize for political participation in decision-making, nor does it fight against the state ideology, nor does it pretend to have a bias or tendency in order to get access to decision-makers. Movement participants have contributed to the opening-up of new channels for the expression of previously excluded demands like intercultural and interfaith dialogue and co-operation (rather than conflict) between civilizations. However, they do not in any way push their service outside the limits set by the existing norms and Turkish political system. They also do not seek to change the regime or the democratic parliamentary system or otherwise intervene in its decisions or actions. Not every public-spirited action is political or antagonistic; rather, there are social, cultural, cognitive, symbolic and spiritual dimensions of such action that can never entirely be translated into the language of politics.
Is the Gülen Movement hiding its intentions?
No. The Gülen Movement does not envisage or intend an overall, sudden change in people and/or in the direction of the development of projects. The intention is to educate people with patience and dedication over time in order to enable them, in peace, to manage the complexity and plurality they have to deal with.
Decision-making in service-networks is neither centralized nor invisible. Project development decisions are not taken by specific individuals or private groups. As people are allowed to intervene in the decision-making, the process is participatory, and the existence of concealed intent to make sudden changes is not feasible or credible.