Prof. Lawrence Geraty: I, frankly, am distressed over the more recent turn of events in Turkey. I’ve been jealous for Turkey’s success and full of admiration for what it’s accomplished and I hope it’s not moving in the other direction now. It looks like freedoms are being curtailed while the ruling party protects its own interest at the expense of others. And, that’s very distressing to me because the reputation that Turkey did have in the West was certainly improving and people were full of admiration and so on for it. And now, we’re wondering what’s happening there. ‘How can this happen in a place that we thought was the model?’
Prof. Roberta Rosenberg: I know there’s been criticism, by the government, of the Hizmet Movement and I think that that is so unfortunate. My experience with the Hizmet Movement has been that it is committed to the most idealistic notions of dialogue, education and social justice and not at all really political in its orientation. So I find, sometimes when—and this is true in the United States as well—when leaders get themselves into political trouble they look to blame someone. I find that sometimes in this country as well as in other countries, when leaders get themselves into difficulty they might look for a scapegoat. They might look for someone to blame. And this is very unfortunate.
Dr. Steve Gilliland: We see Erdogan using a very benign, very supportive group such as the Hizmet Movement as a means of creating fear in the minds of people so that he can enhance his own power, and I don’t think it is going to work. On a short-term basis he may have some success in this, but the Turkish people are smart enough to not be fooled by these types of lies. My statement to the people in Turkey is; find out what the Hizmet program is all about, read the philosophy of Fethullah Gulen, and realize where they are coming from, instead of listening to the politicians. Go to the source.
Assoc. Prof. Sophia Pandya: Certainly, it seems to be autocratic, I’m sensing that he’s a deeply autocratic person who doesn’t want to allow.. He’s called Hizmet a state within a state, which to me is a strange characterization. Yes, Hizmet is a successful movement with a lot of influence and, in that sense, does have power in Turkey; nobody can deny that right now, but so do many organizations. There are a lot of different organizations. To me, that’s like saying that, again, that the Catholics are a state within a state in America, or the Jews, a state within a state in America. Those kinds of statements are derogatory, they’re pejoratives. We try to avoid saying those kinds of things because Catholics have a right to seek influence in America; Jews have a right to seek influence in America, that’s how we operate here. I know that Turkey is Turkish , and that’s also fine. But it is hard for me to understand how that’s democracy.
Azam Nizamuddin: My thoughts about the conflict with respect to the recent tensions in Turkey and the corruption scandal with the AKP as well as the allegations that Hizmet Movement has been trying to undermine the AKP simply demonstrated the consistency and the credibility of the Hizmet Movement in the sense of, it is not interested in attaining power, it is not interested in political power in Turkey or elsewhere in the world, but it wants to adhere to a certain pro-democratic, pro-liberty and freedom agenda so that those who are elected to political power not only have a responsibility to provide economic development and to provide education to their people but, at the same time, are held to the highest ethical standards of conduct. I think the Hizmet Movement has been consistently asking for that without necessarily asking for anything in return as a quid pro quo, in terms of being quiet and then attain power. I think that’s a positive reflection upon the Hizmet Movement.
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