The Gulen Movement on PBS

Lucky Severson, a correspondent for PBS’ Religion & Ethics Newsweekly program, covered the Gulen Movement and Fethullah Gulen for his program’s latest episode. He interviewed people from the Movement’s institutions in the US as well as academicians who studied Mr. Gulen and the Gulen Movement such as Dr. Hellen Ebaugh and Dr. William Martin. Severson also addresses some rumors around the Gulen Movement and charter schools. Below transcript is the courtesy of PBS.

LUCKY SEVERSON, correspondent: His name is Fethullah Gülen. He is a 69-year-old Turkish Islamic scholar and author, apparently in poor health, who came to the US seeking medical treatment. He lives a secluded life at a retreat in Pennsylvania. So why was he voted by his admirers in a survey by Foreign Policy magazine as the most significant intellectual in the world? Among those admirers are Kemal Oksuz and Alp Aslandogan.

PROFESSOR HELEN EBAUGH (Dept. of Sociology, University of Houston; Author of “The Gülen Movement”): When Fethullah Gülen began preaching in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s in Turkey, his message was we don’t need more madrassas. We need schools that would promote science and math and secular subjects, and his contention was that one can be modern and one can be scientific and still be a good Muslim.

SEVERSON: Bill Martin is a senior fellow in religion and public policy at the James Baker Institute at Rice University. He says the Gülen movement is different from fundamentalist Islam because they respect all faiths and believe religion is compatible with science.

SEVERSON: Gülen-inspired volunteers from Turkey bring Turkish language and culture with them. In Houston they sponsor a Turkish Olympiad where American students compete in Turkish dance and song. The winners compete in an annual competition in Ankara, Turkey. There are more than a 1000 Gülen-inspired schools and universities in over 100 countries.

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