Joshua D. Hendrick, Ph.D., visiting assistant professor of international studies at the University of Oregon, addresses the conflict between Turkey"s secular and Islamic forces by explaining the organizational impact of the education and business community known as the Gülen Movement. The followers of Fethullah Gülen, one of Turkey's most famous and controversial religious personalities, attract a great deal of international attention because of the extent of their education network, which now spans over 100 countries and includes approximately 100 charter schools in the United States. "Gülen schools" receive international praise because of the high academic success rates of their students and the moderate brand of Islam exemplified by their Turkish schoolteachers and administrators. Hendrick's extensive ethnographic fieldwork and research seeks to explain the movement's emergence as Turkey's most influential nonpartisan, nonmilitary social force. His work also examines the ways in which its participants aim to aid in the reform of Turkey's power structure in line with the interests of a new 21st century conservative Muslim elite.
Y. Alp Aslandogan, Ph.D., is the president of the Institute of Interfaith Dialog. The group was founded by participants in the Gülen Movement in Texas to foster direct interaction among members of various faiths by means of interfaith dinners, public lectures, sponsored trips to Turkey and academic conferences. As one of the Gülen Movement"s leading intellectuals, Aslandogan will offer a response to Hendrick's analysis.
For more information on the Gülen Movement, see William Martin's "Head of the Class" and "Lesson Learned" (Texas Monthly, August 2010).