Article of the Month
FethullahÂ GÅ±len,Â TurkeyÂ andÂ theÂ EuropeanÂ UnionÂ
UniversityÂ ofÂ DerbyÂ
Second AnnualÂ ConferenceÂ onÂ
âIslamÂ inÂ theÂ Contemporary World:Â Â TheÂ FethullahÂ GÅ±lenÂ Movement inÂ ThoughtÂ and
TheÂ UniversityÂ ofÂ Oklahoma,Â Norman,Â Oklahoma,Â USA
3rd5thÂ NovemberÂ 2006Â
[* Please Note:Â ThisÂ paperÂ isÂ notÂ forÂ quotation withoutÂ permission fromÂ the author,Â
sinceÂ itÂ isÂ subjectÂ toÂ checking and finalisation before publication]
ThisÂ paperÂ highlightsÂ some of the key issuesÂ cited inÂ debatesÂ overÂ TurkeyâsÂ full membershipÂ of the EuropeanÂ Union,Â andÂ considersÂ the positionsÂ onÂ thisÂ takenÂ by the TurkishÂ Muslim,Â FethullahÂ GÅ±len.Â ItÂ alsoÂ considersÂ the bearing uponÂ these issuesÂ thatÂ GÅ±lenâsÂ more generalÂ teaching and perspectives,Â asÂ well as theÂ existence andÂ work of the community thatÂ isÂ based uponÂ these,Â mightÂ have.Â ItÂ arguesÂ thatÂ GÅ±lenâsÂ teachingÂ canÂ help effectÂ aÂ positive shiftÂ inÂ some of the debateâsÂ preconceived frameworks, while suggesting thatÂ the community thatÂ hasÂ formed around hisÂ teaching may be able toÂ play aÂ helpful role inÂ the internal and externalÂ civil society dialogue thatÂ isÂ aÂ necessary partÂ of any enlargementÂ toÂ include Turkey.
FethullahÂ GÅ±len,Â TurkeyÂ andÂ theÂ EuropeanÂ UnionÂ
TheÂ relationship betweenÂ Turkey and the EuropeanÂ UnionÂ hasÂ become aÂ key one forÂ the future of the UnionÂ itself,Â while being hotly debated inÂ aÂ numberÂ of currentÂ memberÂ statesÂ and societies. While the goal of membership isÂ aÂ key aimÂ of the currentÂ TurkishÂ GovernmentÂ and isÂ supported by the currentÂ Parliamentary oppositionÂ inÂ Turkey,Â the issuesÂ aroundÂ membershipÂ of and/orÂ exclusion fromÂ theÂ UnionÂ are alsoÂ mattersÂ thatÂ are the subjectÂ of considerable debate withinÂ TurkishÂ society.Â
TheÂ issuesÂ involved have,Â inÂ recentÂ times, attained aÂ newÂ intensity of publicÂ debate.Â ButÂ the relationship betweenÂ Turkey and the EuropeanÂ UnionÂ andÂ itsÂ institutional predecessorsÂ has beenÂ aÂ muchÂ moreÂ longstanding one reaching backÂ intoÂ the middle of the lastÂ century.Â AtÂ the same time,Â theÂ relationship betweenÂ Turkey andÂ westernÂ outcrop of the EurasianÂ landmass isÂ oneÂ that,Â of course,Â alsoÂ reachesÂ backÂ intoÂ history inÂ termsÂ of actualÂ historicalÂ conflicts.
But,Â evenÂ more significantly,Â throughÂ the representationÂ of these conflictsÂ inÂ the popularÂ religious,Â culturalÂ and politicalÂ imaginationÂ (see Wheatcroft,Â 2004) powerful perceptualÂ effectsÂ have beenÂ created thatÂ informÂ mutual distrust inÂ relationÂ toÂ theÂ interface betweenÂ the territoriesÂ and peoplesÂ of the predominantly MuslimÂ formerÂ OttomanÂ EmpireÂ and those of the historicalÂ religiopolitical configurationÂ historically characterized asÂ Christendom.Â
ThisÂ paperÂ highlightsÂ some of the key issuesÂ cited inÂ currentÂ debatesÂ overÂ TurkeyâsÂ full membership of the EuropeanÂ Union,Â and considersÂ the positionsÂ onÂ thisÂ takenÂ by the TurkishÂ Muslim,Â FethullahÂ GÅ±len.Â ItÂ alsoÂ examinesÂ aspectsÂ of the role thatÂ mightÂ be played inÂ these debatesÂ by the community thatÂ has formed aroundÂ hisÂ teachings.
TheÂ EEC,Â EC,Â EUÂ andÂ theÂ RepublicÂ ofÂ TurkeyÂ
TheÂ modernÂ history of the relationship betweenÂ Turkey and whatÂ isÂ nowÂ the EuropeanÂ UnionÂ has tracked theÂ evolutionÂ of the UnionÂ itself that,Â of course,Â was originally founded by the Treaty of ParisÂ inÂ 1951 asÂ the EuropeanÂ CoalÂ and Steel Community (ECSC)Â and involved the postSecondÂ World WarÂ countriesÂ of France,Â WestÂ Germany,Â Italy,Â Belgium,Â the NetherlandsÂ and Luxembourg.Â
OnÂ 20thÂ SeptemberÂ 1959,Â the RepublicÂ of Turkey applied,Â toÂ whatÂ by thenÂ (fromÂ 1957)Â had become theÂ EuropeanÂ EconomicÂ Community (EEC),Â inÂ orderÂ toÂ become anÂ associate member.Â ThisÂ came aboutÂ inÂ SeptemberÂ 12thÂ 1963 throughÂ theÂ socalled AnkaraÂ Agreement.Â WhenÂ itÂ was signed,Â WalterÂ HallsteinÂ (quoted inÂ Lord Patten,Â 2005: 70),Â the thenÂ PresidentÂ of the EuropeanÂ Commission,Â stated that,Â
Turkey isÂ partÂ of Europe.Â ThisÂ isÂ the deepestÂ possibleÂ meaning of thisÂ operationÂ whichÂ brings,Â inÂ the mostÂ appropriate way conceivableÂ inÂ ourÂ time,Â the confirmationÂ of aÂ geographicalÂ reality asÂ wellÂ asÂ a historicalÂ truism thatÂ hasÂ beenÂ valid forÂ severalÂ centuries.Â
TheÂ AnkaraÂ AgreementÂ still providesÂ the legalÂ basisÂ forÂ relationsÂ betweenÂ Turkey andÂ whatÂ isÂ nowÂ (throughÂ the MaastrichtÂ Treaty of 1992)Â theÂ EuropeanÂ UnionÂ (EU).Â ButÂ since thenÂ the issuesÂ andÂ debatesÂ around TurkeyâsÂ possible membership of the EUÂ have gone throughÂ aÂ numberÂ of highsÂ and lowsÂ inÂ mattersÂ thatÂ have oftenÂ served as microcosmsÂ forÂ whatÂ are nowÂ seen,Â bothÂ withinÂ Turkey and beyond,Â asÂ the key issuesÂ forÂ aÂ possible future enlargementÂ of the EuropeanÂ UnionÂ thatÂ would include Turkey as aÂ full member.Â
TheÂ AnkaraÂ AgreementÂ was added to,Â inÂ 1995,Â by aÂ CustomsÂ UnionÂ betweenÂ Turkey and theÂ EU. Then,Â inÂ 1999,Â theÂ EuropeanÂ Council accorded Turkey candidate status. AtÂ their summitÂ inÂ DecemberÂ 2002,Â the leadersÂ of theÂ EuropeanÂ UnionÂ agreed that,Â if by the end of 2004 TurkishÂ political reformsÂ metÂ theÂ political partÂ of the socalled âCopenhagenÂ criteriaâ,Â thenÂ negotiationsÂ forÂ full membership could startÂ âwithoutÂ delayâ.Â The CopenhagenÂ politicalÂ criteriaÂ stated thatÂ aÂ prospective memberÂ mustÂ be,Â âa stable democracy,Â respecting humanÂ rights,Â the rule of law,Â and the protection of minoritiesâ.Â
AsÂ aÂ resultÂ of these developments, althoughÂ economics remainsÂ aÂ key componentÂ of the relationshipÂ betweenÂ Turkey and the EU, mattersÂ have nowÂ moved onÂ fromÂ aÂ framework inÂ whichÂ economicsÂ was the main focusÂ toÂ oneÂ inÂ whichÂ politics andÂ culture hasÂ alsoÂ come intoÂ the foreground.Â ForÂ existing memberÂ statesÂ andÂ many inÂ theirÂ societies, asÂ well as forÂ some inÂ Turkey,Â thisÂ has complicated the relationship.Â DuringÂ thisÂ period,Â the EuropeanÂ UnionÂ has itself changed,Â withÂ itsÂ sizeÂ havingÂ expanded substantially since the original 6Â memberÂ states,Â throughÂ the 12,Â toÂ aÂ currently âenlargedâ postCommunistÂ Europe of 25 MemberÂ states, withÂ the admission of aÂ furtherÂ twoÂ candidate statesÂ BulgariaÂ and RomaniaÂ setÂ toÂ raise theÂ totalÂ numberÂ toÂ 27.
Turkey has alsoÂ changed during thisÂ period.Â While throughoutÂ these decadesÂ itÂ shared withÂ many of the currentÂ memberÂ statesÂ of the EUÂ inÂ the military and political alliance of theÂ North AtlanticÂ Treaty OrganisationÂ (NATO),Â itÂ has also gone throughÂ aÂ seriesÂ of domesticÂ political,Â socialÂ andÂ economicÂ challengesÂ andÂ upheavals. These have included three coupsÂ (1960,Â 1971 and 1980)Â inÂ whichÂ the armed forcesÂ intervened toÂ remove the civilianÂ governmentÂ onÂ the groundsÂ of seeking toÂ restoreÂ orderÂ and stability inÂ the contextÂ of seriousÂ socialÂ conflicts,Â politicalÂ and ethnicÂ violence.Â
Then, inÂ 1997,Â the RefahÂ (Welfare)Â Party wasÂ manoeuvred outÂ of office following itsÂ achievementÂ of aÂ main shareÂ of the vote inÂ TurkeyâsÂ 1995Â Parliamentary elections.Â ThisÂ wasÂ onÂ the groundsÂ thatÂ the partyâsÂ perceived IslamicÂ radicalismÂ was aboutÂ toÂ cause aÂ civil uprising,Â inÂ relationÂ toÂ whichÂ theÂ armed forcesâÂ constitutional role as guarantorÂ of TurkeyâsÂ secular,Â KemalistÂ heritage,Â obliged itÂ toÂ intervene.Â MostÂ recently of all,Â however,Â wasÂ the election intoÂ Government,Â inÂ 2002,Â of the AKPÂ (AdaletÂ ve Kalkinma Partisi,Â inÂ Turkish,Â or Justice and DevelopmentÂ Party inÂ English),Â itself oftenÂ described as anÂ IslamistÂ party.Â YetÂ thisÂ has, soÂ farÂ atÂ least, notÂ resulted inÂ aÂ military interventionÂ of the kinds thatÂ wereÂ previously experienced.Â Indeed,Â inÂ many waysÂ Prime MinisterÂ Recep Tayyip ErdoÄanÂ and hisÂ GovernmentÂ have used the goal of EUÂ membership âÂ whichÂ isÂ alsoÂ supported by the only Parliamentary oppositionÂ party,Â theÂ RepublicÂ PeopleâsÂ Party (CHP)Â âÂ toÂ take the lead inÂ initiating difficultÂ internalÂ reformsÂ inÂ Turkey.Â
ItÂ isÂ againstÂ suchÂ aÂ generalÂ contextualÂ background thatÂ thisÂ paperÂ nowÂ turnsÂ toÂ considerÂ the specificÂ positionsÂ of FethullahÂ GÅ±lenÂ inÂ relation toÂ TurkishÂ membership of the EU. ItÂ alsoÂ looksÂ atÂ the bearingÂ thatÂ hisÂ general teaching,Â andÂ theÂ existence andÂ work of the community thatÂ has formed around this, mightÂ have uponÂ theÂ issuesÂ surrounding TurkishÂ EUÂ membership asÂ seenÂ fromÂ bothÂ inside and outside Turkey.1
GÅ±lenÂ andÂ TurkeyEUÂ IssuesÂ asÂ SeenÂ FromÂ InsideÂ TurkeyÂ
InÂ relationÂ toÂ the TurkishÂ public, aÂ recentÂ reportÂ onÂ Turkey and the EUÂ produced forÂ the EuropeanÂ organisation,Â the FriendsÂ of Europe,Â statesÂ that:Â
ThereÂ isÂ widespread supportÂ in Turkey bothÂ forÂ the politicalÂ reforms and forÂ the goalÂ of EUÂ membershipÂ âÂ withÂ opinionÂ pollsÂ showing 75% supportÂ forÂ joining the Union.Â However,Â thereÂ isÂ oppositionÂ including among nationalists of bothÂ the rightÂ and the left,Â and some sectionsÂ of the military and establishment.Â (Hughes,Â 2004:Â 4).Â
Reflecting onÂ theÂ debate as itÂ has takenÂ shape inÂ Turkey,Â anÂ articleÂ by AyhanÂ ÅimÅek (2005: 21)Â inÂ the NewÂ Anatolian,Â and entitled âDebatingÂ TurkeyâsÂ EUÂ membership:Â RealistsÂ vs. Romanticsâ,Â arguesÂ that:Â
DiscussionsÂ aboutÂ the EUÂ have become one of the mainÂ dividing linesÂ inÂ TurkeyâsÂ domesticÂ politics,Â sinceÂ afterÂ Turkey wasÂ accepted asÂ aÂ candidate country atÂ the 1999Â HelsinkiÂ EuropeanÂ Councilâ¦One group strongly favors TurkeyâsÂ EUÂ membershipÂ perspective,Â and seesÂ itÂ asÂ aÂ âmagicÂ wandâÂ thatÂ may solve allÂ the
1 The presentÂ writerÂ makesÂ noÂ claimÂ toÂ being expertÂ on mattersÂ toÂ doÂ withÂ Turkey,Â and thereforeÂ the following discussionÂ of mattersÂ toÂ doÂ withÂ the internalÂ TurkishÂ discussionÂ are moreÂ dependentÂ uponÂ existingÂ sourcesÂ thanÂ thoseÂ pertaining toÂ the questionÂ of full TurkishÂ membership of the EuropeanÂ UnionÂ asÂ seenÂ fromÂ the perspective of existingÂ EUÂ memberÂ statesÂ and societies.
nationâsÂ problems.Â The otherÂ group,Â onÂ the contrary,Â portraysÂ the EUÂ asÂ aÂ âgreatÂ devilâÂ whichÂ isÂ believed toÂ have a hiddenÂ agendaÂ toÂ divide the country behind itsÂ human face.Â
InÂ contrastÂ toÂ bothÂ of these positions, whichÂ he callsÂ âromanticâ,Â ÅimÅek notesÂ that:Â âTheÂ romanticÂ EUÂ supportersÂ areÂ losingÂ almostÂ all theirÂ credibility,Â while the romanticÂ oppositionÂ isÂ going downÂ aÂ dangerousÂ path,Â and includingÂ evenÂ some racistÂ and xenophobicÂ elementsÂ inÂ itsÂ rhetoricâ.Â Instead of romanticism,Â ÅimÅek arguesÂ instead forÂ whatÂ heÂ callsÂ aÂ ârealistâÂ position.Â ItÂ isÂ the argumentÂ of thisÂ paperÂ thatÂ suchÂ aÂ descriptionÂ alsoÂ summarisesÂ the specificÂ stance thatÂ FethullahÂ GÃ¼lenÂ hasÂ takenÂ inÂ relationÂ toÂ EUÂ membership.Â
Despite oppositionÂ fromÂ some IslamistsÂ GÃ¼lenÂ has, inÂ recentÂ years, beenÂ clearÂ inÂ hisÂ supportÂ of full EUÂ membershipÂ forÂ Turkey.Â InÂ aÂ recent piece entitled âWithÂ Accession,Â Europe Would KnowÂ usÂ Betterâ GÅ±lenÂ (2006:Â 40)Â says, âIÂ have beenÂ inÂ favour of EUÂ membershipÂ forÂ aÂ longÂ timeâ and that, âInÂ my opinion,Â the EUÂ isÂ somethingÂ thatÂ the TurkishÂ people long for.â InÂ hisÂ capacity as Honorary PresidentÂ of the JournalistÂ andÂ WritersÂ Foundation,Â GÅ±lenÂ (2004a)Â sentÂ aÂ message toÂ the AbantÂ PlatformÂ meetingÂ held onÂ DecemberÂ 3rd 4thÂ 2004 atÂ the EuropeanÂ ParliamentÂ inÂ Brussels.
InÂ hisÂ message,Â GÅ±lenÂ made three key pointsÂ aboutÂ theÂ developing relationshipsÂ betweenÂ Turkey and the EU. These included thatÂ the ideaÂ thatÂ TurkishÂ entry intoÂ the EUÂ would be aÂ fulfilmentÂ of the socalled âcontemporary civilisationâ objective of Ataturk;Â thatÂ theÂ historicÂ role of the TurkishÂ armed forcesÂ inÂ thisÂ should notÂ be forgotten,Â despite the factÂ thatÂ thisÂ isÂ sometimesÂ referred toÂ as oneÂ of theÂ biggestÂ obstacles forÂ TurkeyâsÂ full membershipÂ inÂ the EU;Â and thatÂ TurkishÂ membershipÂ of the EUÂ would âreinforce itsÂ role asÂ theÂ island of peace inÂ the heartÂ of theÂ Eurasiaâ since âAÂ Turkey inÂ the EUÂ will moreÂ successfully realize itsÂ functionÂ toÂ establishÂ aÂ bridge betweenÂ the IslamicÂ world and theÂ West.â
GÃ¼lenâsÂ nowÂ clearÂ positionÂ inÂ favourÂ of EUÂ membership isÂ especially significantÂ givenÂ the moreÂ traditionalistÂ historicalÂ background outÂ of whichÂ heÂ comes. ThisÂ isÂ because,Â following the KemalistÂ revolution,Â TurkishÂ society wasÂ broadly splitÂ betweenÂ those whoÂ understoodÂ themselvesÂ as Westernizers,Â and traditionalists whoÂ opposed this, seeingÂ theÂ declineÂ of TurkeyâsÂ role inÂ the world asÂ beingÂ linked withÂ aÂ failureÂ of religiosity and the importationÂ of alienÂ cultural and religiousÂ values.Â
BekimÂ AgaiÂ (2003: 63) arguesÂ that, GÃ¼lenÂ âused toÂ see the solutionÂ toÂ TurkeyâsÂ problemsÂ asÂ raising MuslimsâÂ consciousness inÂ orderÂ toÂ overcome the dominance of Westernized cognitive patternsÂ and toÂ restructureÂ aÂ shared grammarÂ inÂ Turkey based onÂ Islam.â2Â ButÂ AgaiÂ alsoÂ arguesÂ that, inÂ theÂ 1990s,Â the emphasesÂ withinÂ thisÂ perspective changed and GÅ±lenÂ beganÂ to identify thatÂ aÂ lotÂ of TurkeyâsÂ problemsÂ were toÂ be foundÂ inÂ Turkey itself.Â
Today,Â while giving appropriate recognitionÂ toÂ the achievementsÂ of the OttomanÂ past, GÃ¼lenÂ (1996: 53)Â has argued strongly thatÂ MuslimsÂ should notÂ retreatÂ fromÂ modernity intoÂ pastÂ gloriesÂ since:Â
â¦noÂ success orÂ victory fromÂ the pastÂ canÂ comeÂ toÂ help usÂ inÂ ourÂ currentÂ struggle.Â Today ourÂ duty isÂ toÂ offerÂ humanity aÂ newÂ message composed of vivid scenesÂ fromÂ the pastÂ togetherÂ with understanding of the needsÂ of the present.
AsÂ HakanÂ YakuzÂ (2003: 29)Â summarisesÂ it,Â âGÅ±lenâsÂ viewsÂ onÂ the preceptsÂ of IslamÂ areÂ pragmaticÂ andÂ contemporary withoutÂ being liberalâ.Â Thus,Â inÂ many ways, GÅ±lenâsÂ teaching has particular implicationsÂ forÂ the traditionalists withinÂ TurkishÂ society,Â drawingÂ asÂ itÂ doesÂ uponÂ aÂ strongÂ commitmentÂ toÂ IslamicÂ sourcesÂ and OttomanÂ history.Â AtÂ the same time,Â itsÂ contextualÂ focusÂ contributesÂ toÂ the conditionsÂ thatÂ facilitate the possibility of dialogue betweenÂ suchÂ traditionalistsÂ and those of aÂ moreÂ contemporary and secularÂ outlook.Â
Instead of identifyingÂ âenemy imagesâ,Â GÅ±lenÂ increasingly beganÂ to argue thatÂ the problemsÂ of TurkishÂ society were rooted inÂ anÂ internalÂ societalÂ ignorance thatÂ he compared toÂ aÂ blood cancer,Â and the cure forÂ whichÂ heÂ identified asÂ education.Â Interestingly,Â inÂ thisÂ he wasÂ alsoÂ creatingÂ commonÂ groundÂ againstÂ obscurantistÂ traditionalismÂ withÂ secularistsÂ whoÂ have alwaysÂ beenÂ strong advocatesÂ of science,Â technology and education while building thisÂ stance uponÂ aÂ positivisticÂ formÂ of secularismÂ thatÂ standsÂ overÂ and againstÂ religion.Â
InÂ fact,Â GÅ±lenâsÂ perspectivesÂ andÂ the movementÂ and educationalÂ institutionsÂ thatÂ have formed onÂ theÂ basisÂ of the inspirationÂ of hisÂ teaching strongly affirmÂ thatÂ IslamÂ and education,Â science and technologyÂ should notÂ be seenÂ as being inÂ conflict. RatherÂ GÅ±lenÂ (inÂ Å°nalÂ & Williams,Â 2000: 316) arguesÂ thatÂ âInÂ itsÂ true meaning,Â religionÂ doesÂ notÂ oppose orÂ limitÂ science and scientificÂ work.âÂ InÂ otherÂ words, GÅ±lenÂ seesÂ religionÂ and science as âdifferentÂ worldsâÂ waysÂ of expressingÂ theÂ same meaning,Â contentÂ and truth.âÂ ThisÂ isÂ because of aÂ theologicalÂ viewÂ held by GÅ±lenÂ (inÂ Å°nalÂ & Williams,Â 2000:Â 316317) thatÂ seesÂ âthe universe as aÂ mighty QurâanÂ derivingÂ fromÂ GodâsÂ attributesÂ of PowerÂ and Will.Â InÂ otherÂ words, if the termÂ isÂ proper,Â the universe isÂ aÂ large,Â created Qurâan.Â InÂ return,Â being anÂ expression of the universeâsÂ lawsÂ inÂ differentÂ form,Â theÂ QurâanÂ isÂ aÂ universe thatÂ hasÂ beenÂ coded and putÂ onÂ paper.âÂ
Because of this, GÅ±lenâsÂ generalÂ orientation inÂ supportÂ of educationÂ and scientificÂ enquiry isÂ somethingÂ thatÂ has aÂ substantialÂ bearing onÂ issuesÂ relating toÂ EUÂ membership.Â ThisÂ isÂ because the EUÂ has aÂ declared aimÂ toÂ become aÂ socalled âKnowledge Societyâ.Â ThusÂ the MarchÂ 2000 LisbonÂ EuropeanÂ Council setÂ aÂ strategicÂ goal (see EuropeanÂ Commission,Â Directorate GeneralÂ forÂ Employment,Â Social AffairsÂ and Equal Opportunities:Â 2006)Â forÂ Europe,Â by 2010,Â âtoÂ become theÂ mostÂ competitive and dynamicÂ knowledgebased economy inÂ the world,Â capable of sustainable economicÂ growthÂ withÂ moreÂ and betterÂ jobsÂ andÂ greaterÂ social cohesion.âÂ Because of this, GÅ±lenâsÂ teaching,Â and the developmentÂ by the community around itÂ of anÂ extensive educationalÂ provision,Â playsÂ anÂ importantÂ role inÂ the orientationÂ of the whole of TurkishÂ society,Â including itsÂ more traditionalistÂ elements,Â towardsÂ some of theÂ implicationsÂ of EuropeanÂ UnionÂ membership.Â
AnotherÂ of the main concernsÂ toÂ be found among the traditionalistsÂ isÂ that,Â whenÂ itÂ comesÂ downÂ toÂ it,Â the EUÂ isÂ really aÂ âChristianÂ Clubâ.Â TheÂ fearÂ isÂ expressed thatÂ full membership of the UnionÂ will inevitably lead toÂ continued and probably accelerated erosionÂ of IslamicÂ belief and practice inÂ Turkey thatÂ wasÂ seenÂ as already having beenÂ setÂ inÂ motionÂ by the secularizing Kemalists. SuchÂ perceptionsÂ are reinforced whenÂ leadingÂ EuropeanÂ politiciansÂ and personalities,Â asÂ inÂ the recentÂ debatesÂ onÂ theÂ EuropeanÂ Constitutional Treaty,Â argued forÂ aÂ special recognitionÂ of Christianity asÂ aÂ basisÂ forÂ theÂ valuesÂ espoused by the Union.Â Of the IslamistÂ concernsÂ of thisÂ kindÂ leading toÂ oppositionÂ toÂ EUÂ membership GÃ¼lenÂ (inÂ Gundem,Â 2005)Â says, âSome MuslimsÂ have recently published andÂ distributed booksÂ onÂ suchÂ grounds:Â âif they (Europeans)Â come,Â they will influence usÂ and stealÂ our youthÂ fromÂ us,Â withÂ the way theyÂ look,Â their mentality,Â theirÂ conceptionÂ of religion,Â theirÂ notionÂ of God.âÂ
AsÂ hasÂ beenÂ pointed out,Â GÅ±lenÂ wasÂ himself atÂ oneÂ time notÂ aÂ strangerÂ toÂ suchÂ perceptions. However,Â inÂ aÂ 2000Â interviewÂ withÂ HakanÂ YakuzÂ (2003: 45),Â GÅ±lenÂ said:
We allÂ change,Â donâtÂ we?Â â¦â¦By visiting the StatesÂ and many otherÂ EuropeanÂ countries,Â I realized the virtuesÂ and the roleÂ of religionÂ inÂ theseÂ societies.Â IslamÂ flourishesÂ inÂ Europe and AmericaÂ muchÂ betterÂ thanÂ inÂ many MuslimÂ countries.Â ThisÂ meansÂ freedomÂ and the rule of lawÂ are necessaryÂ forÂ personalÂ Islam.Â
InÂ aÂ piece onÂ âTolerance inÂ the Life of the Individual andÂ Societyâ,Â GulenÂ (2004b:Â 43)Â pointsÂ outÂ withÂ regard toÂ the already very large TurkishÂ MuslimÂ presence inÂ the currentÂ memberÂ statesÂ of theÂ EUÂ that, ââ¦.our citizensÂ inÂ EuropeanÂ countriesÂ canÂ only live inÂ harmony inÂ those countriesÂ by means of aÂ vastÂ atmosphereÂ of tolerance.âÂ He alsoÂ critiquesÂ the superficial readingÂ of religionÂ inÂ EuropeanÂ and WesternÂ societiesÂ thatÂ canÂ be found among many traditionalists,Â by makingÂ theÂ following empirical observations:Â
SomeÂ peopleÂ mightÂ be tempted toÂ say thatÂ religionÂ hasÂ noÂ placeÂ inÂ the life of society inÂ developed countriesÂ suchÂ asÂ AmericaÂ and thoseÂ of WesternÂ Europe.Â We mustÂ immediately pointÂ outÂ thatÂ suchÂ a statementÂ isÂ inÂ noÂ way correctÂ and thatÂ theseÂ countriesÂ have and are attached toÂ theirÂ religions.Â Just asÂ we have expressed earlier,Â althoughÂ religiousÂ valuesÂ may have beenÂ weakened overÂ the lastÂ twoÂ centuriesÂ throughoutÂ the world,Â humanity today isÂ againÂ searching forÂ religion,Â and isÂ once againÂ inclining toward it.Â EvenÂ thoughÂ the populationÂ may be indifferentÂ toÂ religion,Â toÂ aÂ certainÂ extentÂ inÂ WesternÂ Europe,Â thoseÂ inÂ the administrationÂ seemÂ toÂ be,Â onÂ the whole,Â ratherÂ religious.Â Among these,Â thereÂ have alwaysÂ beenÂ religiousÂ peopleÂ atÂ the highestÂ levelsÂ of administration,Â and thereÂ still are today.Â Moreover,Â thoughÂ secularism isÂ the rule inÂ allÂ theseÂ countries,Â thereÂ hasÂ neverÂ beenÂ aÂ mentality dictating thatÂ the guidance of religionÂ should be abandoned inÂ socialÂ orÂ evenÂ inÂ the politicalÂ life of aÂ country.Â
InÂ making these observations, GÃ¼lenÂ isÂ contrasting aÂ civil society understandingÂ of the âsecularâÂ thatÂ isÂ concerned withÂ the participation of citizensÂ of all religionsÂ and none inÂ the publicÂ life of aÂ society asÂ compared withÂ anÂ ideological formÂ of secularismÂ thatÂ isÂ concerned toÂ promote positivistÂ philosophical positions.3Â ItÂ isÂ suchÂ anÂ approachÂ whichÂ enablesÂ GÅ±lenÂ toÂ take the position,Â asÂ reported by YakuzÂ (2003: 45)Â thatÂ ââ¦.IslamÂ doesÂ notÂ need the state toÂ survive,Â butÂ ratherÂ needsÂ educated andÂ financially richÂ communitiesÂ toÂ flourish.Â In aÂ way,Â notÂ the state butÂ ratherÂ community isÂ needed underÂ aÂ full democraticÂ system.âÂ
Therefore,Â toÂ the argumentÂ thatÂ Europe isÂ âaÂ ChristianÂ clubâ thatÂ isÂ thereforeÂ alienÂ toÂ TurksÂ and toÂ Islam,Â GÅ±lenÂ (2006: 40)Â speaksÂ of âsome whoÂ have doubtsÂ aboutÂ theirÂ ownÂ religiosityâ whereas,Â forÂ himself,Â he saysÂ âIÂ could be onÂ familiarÂ termsÂ withÂ Europe.Â ThroughÂ membership IÂ could perhapsÂ betterÂ explain my culture and myself toÂ them.Â PerhapsÂ they would be touched and would knowÂ usÂ better.â
GÅ±lenÂ andÂ TurkeyEUÂ IssuesÂ asÂ SeenÂ FromÂ OutsideÂ TurkeyÂ
FromÂ theÂ perspective of some existing EUÂ statesÂ and Â perhapsÂ evenÂ moreÂ significantly inÂ viewÂ of the gap betweenÂ ordinary citizensÂ and the social,Â political and business elitesÂ thatÂ surfaced inÂ the recentÂ debatesÂ aroundÂ theÂ EuropeanÂ Constitutional Treaty Â fromÂ the perspective of
2 ForÂ anÂ explorationÂ of the variousÂ and contested meaningsÂ of âsecularâÂ inÂ differentÂ socialÂ contexts,Â see P.Â Weller.Â (2006).Â âHumanÂ Rightsâ,Â âReligionâÂ and the âSecularâ:Â VariantÂ ConfigurationsÂ of Religion(s),Â State(s)Â and Society(ies). ReligionÂ and HumanÂ Rights:Â AnÂ InternationalÂ Journal.Â 1,Â 1,Â 1739.
many of the EUÂ memberÂ state populationsÂ the questionÂ of TurkeyâsÂ possible membership isÂ by noÂ meansÂ straightforward.Â
Reflecting the concernsÂ thatÂ exist,Â the latestÂ EurobarometerÂ (2006) survey showsÂ thatÂ 52%Â of EUÂ citizensÂ are againstÂ TurkeyâsÂ membership, althoughÂ interestingly citizensÂ fromÂ the newÂ memberÂ statesÂ were moreÂ inÂ favour of Turkey joiningÂ (48%)Â thanÂ citizensÂ of theÂ EU15 (32%Â inÂ favour).Â However,Â statisticsÂ suchÂ asÂ these inevitably give only aÂ broad âfeelâÂ forÂ generalÂ positions.Â And as the EuropeanÂ MuslimÂ reformer,Â Tariq Ramadan4Â (2006: 35)Â argues, âWhatÂ isÂ absolutely urgentÂ today isÂ toÂ clearly distinguishÂ differentÂ stakes,Â differentÂ questionsÂ raised by thisÂ membership,Â andÂ theÂ differentÂ levelsÂ of analysis.âÂ
InÂ reflectingÂ onÂ whatÂ he callsÂ âthe main themesÂ of the fundamentalÂ questionsÂ aroused by TurkeyâsÂ EUÂ membership,âÂ RamadanÂ (2006: 35)Â identifiesÂ âthree main themesâ,Â inÂ the followingÂ way:Â
IsÂ Turkey really partÂ of theÂ EuropeanÂ continent?Â
DoesÂ the predominantly IslamicÂ TurkishÂ society really participate inÂ the EuropeanÂ identity?Â
AreÂ fundamentalÂ humanÂ rightsÂ andÂ principlesÂ of democracy suitably respected?Â
ToÂ the predominantly culturalÂ andÂ political concernsÂ highlighted by RamadanÂ should alsoÂ be added concernsÂ aboutÂ theÂ potentialÂ economicÂ impactÂ of migrationÂ fromÂ the relatively poor andÂ youngÂ populationÂ of Turkey inÂ relationÂ toÂ the settled andÂ historicÂ populationsÂ of the EUÂ memberÂ states.
TheÂ geographical,Â cultural and religiousÂ concerns, are mostÂ oftenÂ (butÂ notÂ exclusively)Â expressed by Governments,Â politicalÂ parties,Â movements, associationsÂ of aÂ more socially and religiously conservative and nationalistÂ complexion.Â Those toÂ doÂ withÂ democracy,Â the role of the military,Â and humanÂ rightsÂ areÂ mostÂ oftenÂ (but,Â again,Â notÂ exclusively)Â expressed by groupsÂ withÂ aÂ more socialistÂ and internationalistÂ orientation.Â Those toÂ doÂ withÂ migrationÂ are increasingly toÂ be found among groupsÂ of mostÂ political and socialÂ complexions.
InÂ relationÂ toÂ the geographicalÂ question,Â there are those especially,Â butÂ notÂ only,Â amongÂ GermanÂ and AustrianÂ ChristianÂ Democrats (see Gow,Â 2006)Â who,Â inÂ the recentÂ debatesÂ around the accession toÂ theÂ EUÂ of BulgariaÂ andÂ Romania, have argued forÂ aÂ clearerÂ sense of the geographical boundariesÂ of Europe toÂ be established.Â InÂ aÂ way thisÂ isÂ ironicÂ givenÂ CzarÂ Nicholas IâsÂ 19thÂ century descriptionÂ of the OttomanÂ Empire asÂ the âsick manÂ of Europeâ,Â aÂ negative evaluation of capacity andÂ vitality that, however,Â precisely identified Turkey as partÂ of EuropeanÂ reality!Â
InÂ relationÂ toÂ suchÂ views,Â theÂ EUâsÂ EnlargementÂ Commissioner,Â Olli Rehn,Â whoÂ hasÂ warned of aÂ pendingÂ âtrain wreckâ inÂ accessionÂ talksÂ withÂ Turkey,Â has responded toÂ these GermanÂ and AustrianÂ ChristianÂ DemocraticÂ Party calls forÂ aÂ newÂ definitionÂ of EuropeâsÂ bordersÂ by insisting thatÂ any EuropeanÂ country respecting democraticÂ valuesÂ and the rule of lawÂ may apply.Â InÂ clarifyingÂ this, RehnÂ (inÂ Gow,Â 2006) saidÂ that:Â
ThisÂ doesÂ notÂ meanÂ thatÂ allÂ EuropeanÂ countriesÂ mustÂ apply orÂ thatÂ the EUÂ mustÂ acceptÂ allÂ applicationsâ¦.ButÂ itÂ meansÂ we should notÂ drawÂ inÂ IndianÂ ink someÂ thick
4 ForÂ a broaderÂ understanding of Tariq RamadanâsÂ approach, see Tariq RamadanÂ (2004), WesternÂ MuslimsÂ and the Future of Islam,Â Oxford:Â Oxford University Press.
âfaultlineâÂ according toÂ some notionalÂ historicalÂ bordersÂ betweenÂ civilisationsÂ and thusÂ constructÂ a kind of velvetÂ curtainÂ only aÂ fewÂ yearsÂ after we gotÂ rid of the ironÂ curtain.Â
InÂ relationÂ toÂ the issuesÂ toÂ doÂ withÂ culture and religion,Â givenÂ TurkeyâsÂ predominantly MuslimÂ inheritance,Â itsÂ OttomanÂ history inÂ relation toÂ Europe,Â and the currentÂ globalÂ and conflictualÂ issuesÂ toÂ doÂ withÂ âjihadistâÂ MuslimsÂ and terrorism, suchÂ concernsÂ areÂ almostÂ inevitable and very challenging toÂ overcome.Â FromÂ the clearÂ positionsÂ thatÂ heÂ has takenÂ againstÂ theÂ confusion of IslamÂ andÂ political ideology,Â and IslamÂ and terrorism,Â itÂ isÂ clearÂ thatÂ GÅ±lenÂ understandsÂ the fearsÂ and concernsÂ of nonMuslimsÂ aboutÂ IslamÂ as aÂ political ideology.Â AsÂ GÃ¼lenÂ (inÂ ÃnalÂ & Williams, Eds., 2000: 248) explainsÂ it,Â âTheÂ present,Â distorted image of IslamÂ thatÂ has resulted fromÂ itsÂ misuse,Â by bothÂ MuslimsÂ andÂ nonMuslimsÂ forÂ their ownÂ goals,Â scaresÂ bothÂ MuslimsÂ andÂ nonMuslims.âÂ
AsÂ summarised by SahinÂ Alpay (1995),Â âHodjaefendiÂ opposesÂ theÂ use of IslamÂ as aÂ political ideology and aÂ party philosophy,Â asÂ well as polarizingÂ society intoÂ believersÂ and nonbelievers.âÂ InÂ thisÂ perspective,Â then,Â inÂ relationÂ to culturalÂ factors,Â thereÂ isÂ noÂ inevitable civilizational gulf betweenÂ people inÂ Turkey and people inÂ the historicÂ landsÂ of Christendom,Â while thereÂ areÂ alsoÂ anyway many millionsÂ of Muslims of TurkishÂ andÂ otherÂ ethnicÂ andÂ nationalÂ descent,Â whoÂ areÂ already citizensÂ and/orÂ settled membersÂ of currentÂ memberÂ statesÂ and societiesÂ of the EuropeanÂ Union.Â
InÂ connection withÂ humanÂ rightsÂ concernsÂ identified by Ramadan,Â inÂ viewÂ of TurkeyâsÂ history of military coupsÂ and interventions, there remain concernsÂ aboutÂ the stability of TurkishÂ democracy.Â These concernsÂ need toÂ be takenÂ seriously,Â since periodsÂ military rule generally give rise toÂ more extensive humanÂ rightsÂ abuses, withÂ lessÂ effective constraintÂ fromÂ the rule of law.Â AtÂ the same time,Â itÂ should be noted thatÂ itÂ isÂ possible forÂ societiesÂ withÂ aÂ history of military rule toÂ change.Â InÂ thisÂ connectionÂ it should notÂ be forgottenÂ thatÂ bothÂ Spain and PortugalÂ emerged intoÂ EUÂ membership fromÂ fascistÂ and military dictatorships.Â
InÂ the case of Portugal,Â thisÂ took place throughÂ revolutionary change and inÂ connection withÂ the end of the colonialÂ era; while inÂ the case of Spain,Â the change was moreÂ evolutionary followingÂ the deathÂ of General Franco. However,Â inÂ neitherÂ case did the widerÂ Europe alwaysÂ have full confidence thatÂ these politiesÂ could maintain theirÂ fledglingÂ democracies.Â Indeed,Â inÂ the case of Spain,Â sectionsÂ of the military did make attemptsÂ againstÂ the democraticÂ order,Â butÂ these attemptsÂ didÂ notÂ succeed due toÂ aÂ change inÂ the overall popularÂ and business orientationsÂ and expectationsÂ following integration intoÂ the EU.
InÂ relationÂ toÂ issuesÂ toÂ doÂ withÂ military rule and humanÂ rightsÂ inÂ Turkey,Â some of positionsÂ takenÂ by GÅ±lenÂ inÂ the pastÂ mightÂ atÂ leastÂ appearÂ toÂ have beenÂ problematic.Â For example,Â inÂ aÂ numberÂ of statementsÂ GÅ±lenÂ made clearÂ hisÂ supportÂ forÂ the TurkishÂ military as aÂ bulwark eitherÂ againstÂ whatÂ wasÂ perceived asÂ aÂ threatÂ of chaosÂ formÂ internalÂ radical leftistsÂ and/orÂ during the Cold WarÂ period, externally fromÂ the SovietÂ Union.Â ThusÂ GÅ±lenÂ (inÂ Yakuz,Â 2003:Â 27)Â canÂ be found asÂ beingÂ quoted toÂ theÂ effectÂ that,Â âIÂ amÂ onÂ alwaysÂ onÂ the side of the state andÂ theÂ military.Â WithoutÂ theÂ state,Â thereÂ isÂ anarchy and chaos.â However,Â suchÂ general statementsÂ doÂ need toÂ be understood inÂ relationÂ toÂ the kindÂ of approachÂ that, fromÂ anÂ IslamicÂ perspective,Â isÂ expected of the state and the military, inÂ termsÂ of the requirementsÂ of justÂ behaviour.Â And also,Â asÂ HakanÂ YakuzÂ (2003: 30)Â argues, apparently genericÂ statementsÂ of these kindsÂ need toÂ be understood inÂ the contextÂ of three differentÂ âsociohistoricalÂ stagesâÂ inÂ Turkey.
AsÂ YakuzÂ (2003:Â 31)Â says, âEachÂ period was shaped by structuralÂ processesÂ thatÂ reproduced aÂ more contextualÂ framingÂ process.âÂ The firstÂ period was one inÂ whichÂ the emphasisÂ was âtoÂ preserve hisÂ religioconservative community fromÂ active involvementÂ inÂ IslamicÂ politicalÂ movements,â althoughÂ as aÂ resultÂ of theÂ polarizationÂ of TurkishÂ society during the Cold War,Â the movementÂ eventually âembraced anÂ anticommunistÂ rhetoricÂ and adopted aÂ conservative nationalistÂ positionâ.Â
ThisÂ initialÂ period wasÂ thenÂ followed by the periodÂ of whatÂ YakuzÂ (2003: 35)Â callsÂ âthe education movementâ inÂ whichÂ there wasÂ anÂ opening toÂ the widerÂ civil society as well as toÂ theÂ TurkicÂ world beyond the bordersÂ of Turkey itself.Â This eraÂ of growingÂ influence inÂ TurkishÂ society and beyond thenÂ led intoÂ theÂ currentÂ period of reactionÂ fromÂ elementsÂ inÂ the secular state establishment,Â and whichÂ resulted inÂ charges5Â beingÂ broughtÂ againstÂ GÅ±lenÂ of whichÂ he wasÂ laterÂ acquitted.Â ThisÂ wasÂ aÂ period inÂ whichÂ heÂ alsoÂ departed toÂ live inÂ the United States, and during whichÂ hisÂ teachingsÂ and the activitiesÂ of hisÂ movementÂ became marked by the concomitantÂ developmentÂ andÂ disseminationÂ of perspective thatÂ were muchÂ more globalÂ inÂ theirÂ perspectives.
InÂ relationÂ toÂ the issuesÂ toÂ doÂ withÂ the KurdishÂ minority and theÂ extensive deathÂ and destruction thatÂ took place during the periodÂ of theÂ armed conflictÂ betweenÂ the PKK andÂ theÂ TurkishÂ state,Â GÅ±lenÂ maintained aÂ general publicÂ silence onÂ the substantive issuesÂ atÂ stake,Â while condemningÂ theÂ violence of the PKK inÂ particular.Â By contrast,Â inÂ relationÂ toÂ anotherÂ minority group inÂ TurkishÂ society,Â the Alevis,Â GÅ±lenÂ (inÂ Å°nalÂ & Williams, 2000: 6770) has spokenÂ positively of the need forÂ betterÂ SunniAlevi relations, affirming thatÂ the AlevisÂ (inÂ Å°nalÂ & Williams,Â 2000: 67)Â âdefinitely enrichÂ TurkishÂ cultureâ and thatÂ (inÂ Å°nalÂ & Williams,Â 2000:Â 69),Â âAlawi meetingÂ or prayerÂ housesÂ should be supported.âÂ
ThereforeÂ itÂ isÂ clearÂ thatÂ achievingÂ anÂ appropriate balance betweenÂ nationalÂ unity and diverse ethnic,Â cultural and religiousÂ groupsÂ remainsÂ challenging Â forÂ aÂ state thatÂ wasÂ founded onÂ centralistÂ principles;Â forÂ the dominantÂ Sunni MuslimÂ tradition; and forÂ GÅ±lenÂ and the movementÂ associated withÂ hisÂ teaching.Â Because of these deeprooted difficulties, althoughÂ Tariq RamadanÂ attacked asÂ fallaciesÂ theÂ geographical and cultural/religiousÂ argumentsÂ againstÂ TurkeyâsÂ full membership of the EU, he (Ramadan,Â 2006:Â 37)Â argued thatÂ on humanÂ rightsÂ groundsÂ thatÂ thereÂ remainsÂ aÂ need forÂ âfirmly and clearlyâ askingÂ questionsÂ aboutÂ mattersÂ onÂ whichÂ âthereÂ remainsÂ seriousÂ work toÂ be doneÂ and fundamentalÂ reformsÂ toÂ be undertakenÂ inÂ TurkishÂ societyâ.Â
ButÂ RamadanÂ seesÂ thisÂ ongoing humanÂ rightsÂ challenge as something inÂ relationÂ toÂ whichÂ âTurkishÂ citizensÂ should grasp theÂ opportunityâ.Â (Ramadan,Â 2006: 38).Â Thus, forÂ example,Â asÂ Mihail VasiliadisÂ (2006:Â 47),Â theÂ editorÂ of Apoyevmatini,Â aÂ Greek minority newspaperÂ inÂ Turkey,Â expressesÂ it:Â
itÂ isÂ difficultÂ forÂ me â¦..Â asÂ aÂ memberÂ of the Greek community toÂ say thatÂ allÂ ourÂ problemsÂ have beenÂ solved.Â DecisionsÂ made by the governmentÂ and evenÂ lawsÂ passed by ParliamentÂ cannotÂ easily be implemented,Â the bureaucraticÂ hindrancesÂ seemÂ insurmountable.Â
5 ControversyÂ erupted around GÅ±lenÂ inÂ 2000Â whenÂ some videotapesÂ wereÂ broadcastÂ inÂ whichÂ GÅ±lenÂ wasÂ apparently seenÂ toÂ be preaching struggleÂ againstÂ the secularÂ republicÂ and forÂ the need toÂ overthrowÂ and toÂ replaceÂ itÂ withÂ anÂ IslamicÂ state,Â making hisÂ returnÂ toÂ Turkey impossible during thatÂ period.Â However,Â in 2003,Â hisÂ trialÂ inÂ Turkey wasÂ postponed,Â althoughÂ thisÂ wasÂ initially subjectÂ toÂ itÂ being reactivated if he wereÂ toÂ be indicted withÂ aÂ similarÂ crimeÂ inÂ the following five years.Â Â Nevertheless,Â in 2006Â GÅ±lenÂ wasÂ aquitted of allÂ chargesÂ bringing thisÂ episode toÂ aÂ close.
InÂ expressing the issuesÂ inÂ thisÂ way,Â VasiliadesÂ highlightsÂ the difficulty thatÂ thereÂ canÂ be aÂ difference betweenÂ theÂ passing of legalÂ reformsÂ and their consistentÂ implementationÂ atÂ all levelsÂ throughoutÂ aÂ country.Â AndÂ indeed,Â itÂ isÂ likely thatÂ itÂ isÂ precisely thisÂ issueÂ whichÂ may âÂ as itÂ hasÂ forÂ more recently forÂ bothÂ RomaniaÂ andÂ BulgariaÂ â prove more difficultÂ forÂ Turkey toÂ dealÂ withÂ thanÂ enactingÂ the original constitutionalÂ and legalÂ changes.
TheÂ challenge of translating legalÂ reformÂ intoÂ social practice alsoÂ hasÂ aÂ bearingÂ onÂ humanÂ rightsÂ issuesÂ inÂ relationÂ toÂ genderrelated issues. ThusÂ itÂ isÂ well knownÂ thatÂ inÂ Turkey,Â there hasÂ beenÂ aÂ widespread issue (AmnestyÂ International,Â 2004) withÂ regard toÂ socalled âhonour killingsâ of women.Â ThisÂ isÂ aÂ matterÂ onÂ which the EUÂ would expectÂ toÂ see considerable progress before any enlargementÂ could include Turkey as aÂ full member.Â While Turkey hasÂ made some significantÂ legalÂ changesÂ inÂ thisÂ regard,Â aÂ recentÂ University survey (2005) fromÂ inside Turkey showsÂ howÂ deeprooted and widespread remainÂ the kindÂ of underlyingÂ attitudesÂ thatÂ canÂ give atÂ leastÂ tacitÂ popularÂ supportÂ forÂ suchÂ practices,Â and whichÂ thereforeÂ alsoÂ give cause forÂ concernÂ inÂ relation toÂ the widerÂ genderÂ dimensionÂ of the equalitiesÂ strandsÂ withinÂ EUÂ socialÂ policy.Â
InÂ relationÂ toÂ genderÂ and equalÂ opportunities, GÅ±lenÂ andÂ hisÂ movementÂ are certainly notÂ feminists inÂ theÂ westernÂ tradition.Â WithinÂ theÂ movement,Â womenÂ doÂ notÂ occupy highÂ positionsÂ inÂ itsÂ network groupsÂ or mediaÂ organizations. AtÂ theÂ same time,Â GÅ±lenÂ has made clearÂ thatÂ he regardsÂ the divisive issue inÂ TurkishÂ society of femaleÂ headcovering inÂ the publicÂ sphere as aÂ matterÂ thatÂ isÂ notÂ anÂ âessentialâ butÂ aÂ âdetailâÂ (inÂ Arabic,Â furuat)Â of Islam,Â whichÂ differsÂ inÂ formÂ inÂ relation toÂ itsÂ appropriate implementation according toÂ the cultural contextÂ inÂ whichÂ itÂ isÂ found.Â NoneÂ of thisÂ should be misunderstoodÂ asÂ meaning the headcovering isÂ viewed by GÅ±lenÂ asÂ unimportantÂ orÂ as anything otherÂ thanÂ aÂ religiousÂ obligation forÂ MuslimÂ women.Â ButÂ whatÂ itÂ doesÂ indicate isÂ thatÂ GÅ±lenÂ employsÂ aÂ hermeneuticÂ whichÂ isÂ moreÂ inÂ lineÂ withÂ the classicalÂ traditionsÂ of the interpretation of Islam, and quite differentÂ fromÂ the âflatâÂ approachÂ of modernÂ Islamists.Â Because of this,Â withÂ regardÂ toÂ genderrelated issues, asÂ BekimÂ AgaiÂ (2003: 50)Â notesÂ inÂ relation toÂ GÅ±len,Â itÂ isÂ âpossible toÂ buy booksÂ fromÂ IslamicÂ groupsÂ inÂ Istanbul thatÂ denounce himÂ asÂ aÂ nonbelieverÂ (kafir) because heÂ had said thatÂ he did notÂ considerÂ aÂ femaleÂ prime ministerÂ as being contrary to Islam.âÂ
There are,Â of course,Â aÂ range of otherÂ issuesÂ thatÂ have anÂ impactÂ uponÂ theÂ currentÂ debatesÂ around TurkeyâsÂ possible membershipÂ of the EU, including thatÂ of TurkishÂ governmentÂ recognitionÂ of the NicosiaÂ governmentÂ inÂ Cyprus, and economicÂ issuesÂ related toÂ potentialÂ massÂ migrationÂ fromÂ Turkey intoÂ EUÂ memberÂ states.Â There isÂ notÂ time orÂ space toÂ exploreÂ all these issuesÂ inÂ detail here.Â All of these matters,Â and those whichÂ RamadanÂ highlighted above and toÂ whichÂ itÂ has beenÂ possible toÂ give some attentionÂ inÂ thisÂ chapter,Â remainÂ critical forÂ future developments. And itÂ isÂ importantÂ thatÂ the GovernmentÂ and civil society groupsÂ inÂ Turkey tackle them.Â ButÂ atÂ the same time,Â towardsÂ the existing memberÂ statesÂ of the EuropeanÂ UnionÂ and theirÂ societies, GÅ±lenÂ (quoted inÂ Gundem,Â 2005) offersÂ the challenging perspective that:Â
ToÂ date,Â howÂ Turkey willÂ benefitÂ fromÂ thisÂ process hasÂ beenÂ discussed,Â generally speaking.Â I amÂ notÂ sureÂ whetherÂ EuropeanÂ countriesÂ areÂ aware,Â butÂ whatÂ Turkey willÂ bring inÂ isÂ muchÂ moreÂ important.Â If they are awareÂ of thisÂ and still resist,Â thatÂ meansÂ theirÂ obstinacyÂ hasÂ dominated overÂ sound thinking.Â AsÂ a matterÂ of fact,Â thereÂ are many benefitsÂ outÂ of thisÂ relationship forÂ the reputation and future of Europe.
InÂ addressingÂ some of the specificÂ issuesÂ inÂ TurkishEUÂ relations,Â GÅ±lenÂ alsoÂ contextualisesÂ these inÂ aÂ widerÂ civilizational and globalÂ context.Â Thus,Â inÂ contrastÂ toÂ the âclashÂ of civilisationsâÂ espoused by eitherÂ secularÂ advocatesÂ of anÂ ongoingÂ andÂ globalÂ âwarÂ againstÂ terrorismâ;Â by ChristianÂ apocalypticists;Â orÂ by contemporary IslamistsÂ and jihadists, GÃ¼lenÂ (inÂ Gundem,Â 2005)Â arguesÂ the positive case that:Â âTurkey canÂ be aÂ bridge acrossÂ theÂ Middle EastÂ and theÂ Far East. Europe isÂ inÂ need of TurkeyâsÂ profoundÂ and richÂ heritage of insightÂ intoÂ the Middle East.âÂ
Particularly inÂ the currentÂ state of globalÂ affairs,Â thisÂ isÂ anÂ inspired andÂ inspiringÂ vision.Â ButÂ inÂ evaluating all of this, itÂ should be recognised thatÂ thereÂ areÂ those whoÂ argue thatÂ supportÂ forÂ theÂ involvementÂ of Turkey inÂ the EuropeanÂ UnionÂ isÂ partÂ of anÂ agendaÂ toÂ bringÂ aboutÂ the Islamicisation of Europe.Â Thus,Â forÂ example,Â theÂ PrincetonÂ Middle EasternÂ historian,Â BernardÂ LewisÂ (2004) hasÂ commented toÂ theÂ conservative daily newspaperÂ Die WeltÂ thatÂ Europe would be IslamicÂ by the endÂ of thisÂ century âatÂ the very latestâ.Â InÂ response toÂ this,Â itÂ could be asked as toÂ why,Â atÂ leastÂ if itÂ isÂ meantÂ inÂ aÂ truly religiousÂ sense of individualsÂ and groupsÂ freely embracing IslamÂ asÂ aÂ way of life,Â the Islamization of Europe should notÂ legitimately be aÂ goalÂ of MuslimsÂ any moreÂ thanÂ theÂ ChristianÂ evangelisation of Europe should notÂ be aÂ legitimate goalÂ of Christians? AtÂ leastÂ forÂ believingÂ people inÂ bothÂ religions, the issue atÂ stake inÂ suchÂ aspirationsÂ isÂ notÂ suchÂ goalÂ inÂ itself,Â butÂ the meaning of suchÂ aÂ goal and the means by whichÂ the believersÂ try toÂ achieve thisÂ inÂ termsÂ of whetherÂ these meaningsÂ and means are,Â or are not,Â theologically,Â ethically and socially respectful of the freedomÂ of âtheÂ otherâ.Â
AsÂ GÅ±lenÂ (2006: 40)Â has putÂ itÂ âÂ inÂ aÂ way thatÂ canÂ have relevance bothÂ toÂ majority Christians inÂ theÂ currentÂ memberÂ statesÂ of the EUÂ and toÂ MuslimsÂ inÂ Turkey Â âThere are those whoÂ areÂ uncomfortable withÂ otherÂ peopleâsÂ freedomÂ of conscience and religion.Â While sayingÂ âfreedomÂ of conscience andÂ religion,âÂ there are people whoÂ perceive itÂ as only theirÂ ownÂ freedom.Â ThereÂ areÂ suchÂ fanatics and bigots.âÂ
While traditionalistÂ MuslimsÂ invariably highlightÂ aÂ tension,Â if notÂ anÂ outrightÂ incompatibility,Â betweenÂ whatÂ isÂ identified as darÂ alharbÂ (referring toÂ territory thatÂ laysÂ outside theÂ sway of Islam)Â andÂ whatÂ isÂ called darÂ alIslamÂ (referring toÂ those landsÂ inÂ whichÂ IslamÂ has takenÂ root),Â othersÂ Â of whichÂ IhsanÂ YilmazÂ (2002) seesÂ the community associated withÂ GÅ±lenâsÂ teachingÂ asÂ anÂ example Â are more concerned withÂ whatÂ YilmazÂ identifiesÂ asÂ darÂ ulhizmet.Â ThisÂ reflectsÂ aÂ movementÂ away fromÂ anÂ instrumentalisationÂ of religionÂ inÂ politics toÂ anÂ understandingÂ of the contributionÂ toÂ publicÂ life of service based onÂ religiousÂ motivations,Â butÂ contributing toÂ civil society as oneÂ contributionÂ alongside others.Â AsÂ BulentÂ ArasÂ and OmerÂ CahaÂ summarise itÂ (2000: 30):
GÅ±lenâsÂ movementÂ seems toÂ have noÂ aspirationÂ toÂ evolve intoÂ aÂ politicalÂ party orÂ seek politicalÂ power.Â OnÂ the contrary,Â GÅ±lenÂ continuesÂ a long SufiÂ traditionÂ of seeking toÂ addressÂ the spiritualÂ needsÂ of people,Â toÂ educate the masses,Â and toÂ provide some stability inÂ timesÂ of turmoil.Â Like many previousÂ SufiÂ figuresÂ (including the towering thirteenthcentury figure,Â JalalÂ alDinÂ Rumi),Â he isÂ wrongly suspected of seeking politicalÂ power.Â However,Â any change fromÂ thisÂ apoliticalÂ stanceÂ would very muchÂ harmÂ the reputation of his community.Â
Since GÃ¼lenÂ isÂ notÂ aÂ politicianÂ orÂ anÂ economist,Â itÂ isÂ notÂ surprisingÂ thatÂ there isÂ notÂ aÂ large body of work inÂ whichÂ he directly and explicitly addressesÂ questionsÂ and issuesÂ relating toÂ TurkishÂ membership of the EuropeanÂ Union.Â However,Â whenÂ he doesÂ explicitly address this, hisÂ positionsÂ areÂ fairly clear.Â ButÂ perhapsÂ evenÂ more importantly forÂ the processÂ of enlargementÂ thanÂ hisÂ specificÂ statements,Â itÂ isÂ theÂ contentionÂ of thisÂ paperÂ that,Â on balance,Â GÃ¼lenâsÂ generalÂ thoughtÂ and teachingÂ contributesÂ positively toÂ aÂ social,Â cultural and religiousÂ climate inÂ civil society,Â bothÂ among TurksÂ andÂ inÂ the existing EuropeanÂ Union,Â inÂ whichÂ TurkishÂ membership of the EUÂ becomesÂ moreÂ thinkable,Â and thusÂ ultimately moreÂ capable of practicalÂ implementation.Â GÃ¼lenâsÂ commitmentÂ to,Â andÂ involvementÂ in,Â interreligiousÂ dialogue isÂ anÂ importantÂ partÂ of the necessary confidencebuilding process leadingÂ toÂ membershipÂ of the EuropeanÂ Union.Â AsÂ AgaiÂ (2003: 65)Â pointsÂ outÂ that:Â
AlthoughÂ many IslamicÂ leadersÂ may talk of toleranceÂ inÂ Islam,Â itÂ may be problematicÂ toÂ putÂ itÂ intoÂ practice.Â GÃ¼lenÂ himself hasÂ shownÂ thatÂ he hasÂ noÂ fearsÂ of meeting leadersÂ of otherÂ religions,Â including the Pope and the representative of the JewishÂ community inÂ Istanbul.Â He alsoÂ crossed the bordersÂ of Islamic discourseÂ toÂ meetÂ withÂ importantÂ peopleÂ inÂ TurkishÂ society whoÂ are atheists.Â TheseÂ activitiesÂ wereÂ notÂ easy fromÂ a religiousÂ perspective becauseÂ IslamicÂ discourseÂ inÂ Turkey hasÂ definite boundariesÂ thatÂ doÂ notÂ appreciate close tiesÂ toÂ the leadersÂ of otherÂ religionsÂ and nonreligiousÂ persons.Â Also, hisÂ supportÂ forÂ the AlevisÂ wasÂ notÂ very popularÂ among mostÂ SunniIslamic groups.Â
One of theÂ socalled âchaptersâ inÂ the confidencebuildingÂ process forÂ any candidate state of the EUÂ isÂ concerned withÂ civil society exchanges. GroupsÂ withÂ religiousÂ inspirationÂ are increasingly recognised toÂ be anÂ importantÂ partÂ of civil society,Â contributing inÂ aÂ positive way toÂ the developmentÂ of âsocial capitalâ (see Weller,Â 2005).Â ThusÂ GÅ±lenÂ and hisÂ followersâÂ readiness actually toÂ engage inÂ dialogue onÂ termsÂ bothÂ setÂ by themselvesÂ (throughÂ initiativesÂ suchÂ as theÂ InterfaithÂ Dialog Institute)Â and setÂ up by othersÂ canÂ play aÂ significantÂ role inÂ takingÂ mattersÂ forward.Â
TheÂ potentialÂ importance of thisÂ active involvementÂ in interreligiousÂ dialogueÂ forÂ the future of TurkeyâsÂ application forÂ full membershipÂ of theÂ EUÂ canÂ be seenÂ inÂ the positionsÂ takenÂ upÂ onÂ thisÂ question by CardinalÂ JosephÂ RatzingerÂ beforeÂ he wasÂ elected Pope BenedictÂ XVI.Â ThatÂ these findÂ some reflectionÂ inÂ the presentÂ positionÂ of ChristianÂ DemocratsÂ inÂ Germany and AustriaÂ should notÂ be surprising,Â givenÂ the ChristianÂ DemocraticÂ partiesâÂ predominantly CatholicÂ ChristianÂ roots. According toÂ RatzingerÂ (2004)Â as Cardinal,Â writing toÂ EuropeanÂ bishopsÂ explainingÂ the reasonsÂ forÂ hisÂ stand againstÂ full TurkishÂ membership of the EU,Â he stated that:Â
The roots thatÂ have formed Europe,Â thatÂ have permitted the formationÂ of thisÂ continent,Â are thoseÂ of Christianity.Â Turkey hasÂ alwaysÂ represented anotherÂ continent,Â inÂ permanentÂ contrastÂ withÂ Europe.Â ThereÂ wereÂ the [old OttomanÂ Empire]Â warsÂ againstÂ the Byzantine Empire,Â the fallÂ of Constantinople,Â the BalkanÂ wars,Â and the threatÂ againstÂ ViennaÂ and Austria.Â ItÂ would be anÂ error toÂ equate the twoÂ continents...Turkey isÂ founded uponÂ Islam...ThusÂ the entry of Turkey intoÂ the EUÂ would be antihistorical.Â
More recently,Â of course,Â and withÂ widerÂ pertinence toÂ IslamÂ and MuslimsÂ throughoutÂ the world,Â foundÂ himself atÂ the centre of aÂ stormÂ of controversyÂ followingÂ aÂ lectureÂ thatÂ he made onÂ the topicÂ of âFaith,Â ReasonÂ and the University:Â MemoriesÂ and ReflectionsâÂ toÂ the University of Regensburg inÂ Austria,Â on 12thÂ SeptemberÂ 2006.Â InÂ thatÂ lecture,Â the formerÂ Cardinal RatzingerÂ andÂ nowÂ Pope BenedictÂ XVI,Â invoked as illustrative of issuesÂ toÂ be considered inÂ the relationship betweenÂ faith,Â violence, reasonÂ andÂ dialogueÂ âÂ butÂ withoutÂ critical commentÂ uponÂ itÂ atÂ the time Â aÂ 1391Â statementÂ recorded as beingÂ made by the Byzantine emperorÂ Manuel IIÂ Paleologus.
Pope BenedictÂ (2006) stated thatÂ as partÂ of aÂ dialogue betweenÂ PaleologusÂ and anÂ educated PersianÂ onÂ theÂ subjectÂ of the truthÂ inÂ Christianity and Islam,Â theÂ emperor,Â ââ¦.addressesÂ hisÂ interlocutor withÂ aÂ startlingÂ brusquenessÂ onÂ theÂ central question aboutÂ the relationshipÂ betweenÂ religionÂ and violence inÂ generalâ by making the challenge,Â âShowÂ me justÂ whatÂ Muhammad broughtÂ thatÂ wasÂ new,Â and thereÂ youÂ will findÂ things only evil and inhuman,Â suchÂ as hisÂ command toÂ spread by the swordÂ theÂ faithÂ heÂ preached.âÂ InÂ response toÂ the reaction thatÂ quickly developed inÂ the MuslimÂ world asÂ aÂ resultÂ of the onward quotationÂ of thisÂ inÂ the globalÂ media, theÂ Pope quickly soughtÂ toÂ express regretÂ forÂ the way inÂ whichÂ hisÂ quotation of thisÂ statementÂ may have beenÂ heard by Muslims. ThusÂ heÂ issued aÂ statementÂ (quoted by BBC NewsÂ online, 16.9.2006)Â inÂ whichÂ he explained that:Â
I amÂ deeply sorry forÂ the reactions inÂ someÂ countriesÂ toÂ aÂ fewÂ passagesÂ of my addressÂ atÂ the University of Regensburg,Â whichÂ wereÂ considered offensive toÂ the sensibility of Muslims.Â TheseÂ inÂ factÂ wereÂ aÂ quotationÂ fromÂ a medievalÂ text,Â whichÂ doÂ notÂ inÂ any way expressÂ my personalÂ thought.Â
Rather,Â the Pope underlined thatÂ he wanted to,Â ââ¦.clarify the trueÂ meaning of my address,Â whichÂ inÂ itsÂ totality wasÂ andÂ isÂ anÂ invitation toÂ frank and sincere dialogue,Â withÂ mutualÂ respectâ.Â
InÂ the lightÂ of hisÂ overall positionÂ onÂ Turkey inÂ relationÂ toÂ Europe and hisÂ approachÂ toÂ the use of these 14thÂ century statementsÂ asÂ well as theÂ MuslimÂ and otherÂ reactionsÂ toÂ them,Â engagementÂ inÂ robust,Â butÂ alsoÂ constructive,Â interfaithÂ dialogue includingÂ CatholicÂ ChristiansÂ fromÂ currentÂ EUÂ memberÂ statesÂ andÂ MuslimÂ Turks, could certainly be of greatÂ practicalÂ importance inÂ relation toÂ theÂ issuesÂ surrounding the possible entry of Turkey asÂ aÂ full memberÂ intoÂ the EuropeanÂ Union.Â
SuchÂ dialogue isÂ unlikely toÂ be comfortable.Â BothÂ the positionsÂ takenÂ up by variousÂ partiesÂ toÂ the debate as well as theÂ overall tone of the debate itself precisely underlineÂ justÂ howÂ importantÂ itÂ isÂ thatÂ suchÂ dialogueÂ isÂ engaged in.Â InÂ conclusion,Â the sombrely challengingÂ wordsÂ of Tariq RamadanÂ (2006: 38)Â underscore the importance of the issuesÂ withÂ whichÂ thisÂ paperÂ has beenÂ concerned:Â
WithÂ allÂ the EuropeansÂ âÂ among whomÂ the EuropeansÂ of MuslimÂ denominationÂ rank firstÂ âÂ consciousÂ of the stakes,Â the TurksÂ have inÂ the end thisÂ tripleÂ shared responsibility toÂ remind and toÂ prove thatÂ Europe isÂ notÂ aÂ stifled and shrivelled geographicalÂ reality,Â thatÂ itÂ cannotÂ be aÂ drained of aÂ falsely imagined âreligiousÂ and culturalÂ homogeneityâ,Â and thatÂ itÂ cannotÂ base the selfconfidenceÂ of itsÂ identity onÂ the oppositionÂ and dangerousÂ rejectionÂ of the âidentity of the otherâ.Â ItÂ isÂ alsoÂ a heavensentÂ opportunity forÂ Europe toÂ reconcileÂ itself toÂ itsÂ idealsÂ of pluralism,Â equality and constantÂ renewal:Â Turkey isÂ paradoxically itsÂ greatestÂ chance.Â
NeitherÂ GÃ¼lenÂ nor the movementÂ associated withÂ him should be romanticised orÂ idealized.Â AsÂ withÂ all humanÂ beingsÂ and humanÂ organisations, theyÂ have failingsÂ and ambiguities, some of whichÂ have beenÂ touched uponÂ inÂ thisÂ paperÂ inÂ relationÂ toÂ theÂ role of the military and issuesÂ associated withÂ some aspects of humanÂ rights. But,Â on balance,Â itÂ isÂ the argumentÂ of thisÂ paperÂ thatÂ inÂ our presentÂ historical social,Â political and religiousÂ circumstances,Â engagementÂ withÂ GÃ¼lenâsÂ perspectives,Â and withÂ the movementÂ associated withÂ hisÂ teaching,Â canÂ make aÂ positive contributionÂ to the ongoing evolutionÂ of growingÂ and positive relationshipsÂ betweenÂ theÂ state of Turkey and the presentÂ memberÂ statesÂ of the EuropeanÂ Union.
AsÂ underlined by the recentÂ experiencesÂ of some EUÂ memberÂ statesÂ inÂ debatesÂ around the EuropeanÂ Constitution,Â inÂ orderÂ thatÂ EuropeanÂ level developmentsÂ are notÂ seenÂ asÂ the preserve of social,Â political and businessÂ elitesÂ disconnected fromÂ theÂ concernsÂ andÂ perspectivesÂ of ordinary citizens, thenÂ appropriate and full engagementÂ of civil society withinÂ these debatesÂ isÂ of crucial importance.Â GivenÂ theÂ very powerful role played by âenemy imagesâÂ inÂ the history of relationsÂ betweenÂ Turkey and the westernÂ outcrop of the EurasianÂ landmass,Â and theÂ ease withÂ whichÂ these âenemy imagesâÂ canÂ all tooÂ easily be mobilised as partÂ of contemporary political,Â culturalÂ and religiousÂ debates, the positive and full engagementÂ of civil society groupsÂ isÂ likely toÂ be of critical importance toÂ the possibility of full TurkishÂ membership of the EuropeanÂ Union.Â
AsÂ partÂ of this,Â the movementÂ formed around GÅ±lenâs teaching hasÂ the potentialÂ toÂ make aÂ contributionÂ asÂ aÂ social actorÂ inÂ robust,Â openÂ and selfcriticalÂ formsÂ of civil society dialogueÂ thatÂ mustÂ accompany interGovernmentalÂ negotiations. ItÂ isÂ inÂ suchÂ aÂ way thatÂ all peoplesÂ of the existingÂ EUÂ memberÂ statesÂ andÂ Turkey Â whetherÂ Christian,Â Muslim,Â secular orÂ of otherÂ religiousÂ and philosophical traditionsÂ â canÂ feel thatÂ theyÂ mightÂ have aÂ positive stake inÂ the possibleÂ futureÂ entry of Turkey intoÂ full membership of the EuropeanÂ Union.Â The teachingsÂ of GÅ±len,Â andÂ theÂ activitiesÂ of the movementÂ related toÂ these teachingsÂ could yetÂ make aÂ significantÂ contributionÂ toÂ suchÂ developments.
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