Fethullah Gulen Featured at TIME 100 List

Fethullah Gulen
Fethullah Gulen featured by TIME.

Fethullah Gulen, Turkish-Muslim scholar and thinker, has been featured by TIME which published its annual "TIME 100" list. Fethullah Gulen's inclusion came as no surprise to me, because he is clearly an influential person both in his native country and globally. Actually, TIME should have included Fethullah Gulen at least a few years ago in its list. They are a bit late on catching up with the realities of Muslim world. They think social movements in the Muslim countries are somewhat static, but the realities say the opposite.  

The introductory piece was authored by Stephen Kinzer, former NYT bureau chief of Istanbul between 1996 and 2000. Mr. Kinzer tried to be an impartial in his piece, but as an expert on Gulen Movement, I argue that he committed a couple of errors in such a short piece. First of all, Mr. Kinzer drew a very limited portrait of Fethullah Gulen in which Mr. Kinzer described Fethullah Gulen as a person preaching only tolerance, neglecting Gulen's influence in other areas. Second, the Gulen Movement is active in almost all walks of life, not just education and health. Third, and maybe the most important mistake, Mr. Kinzer wrote, "His influence in his native Turkey is immense, exercised by graduates of his schools who have reached key posts in the government, judiciary and police." Other than being an ambiguous one, this is a wrong sentence at its best. A great majority of the people who love Fethullah Gulen are not the graduates of Gulen-inspired schools. These people are the graduates of state schools. On the other hand, "reaching key posts" is an ambiguous expression as I said above. It deserves several questions: what does "key posts" mean? What happens when you reach these key posts? Is it illegal to be in these key posts just because someone admires Fethullah Gulen? Is it a similar mindset that was prevalent during the McCarthy Era in the United States? And many more questions to be asked...

Some "experts" still treat the Gulen Movement as if the Movement is an illegal organization and the members/followers/admirers/sympathizers of the movement "occupy" some posts and key positions without deserving them. That way, some doubts are tried to be cast on the Gulen Movement or the members of the Movement.