Frequently Asked Questions about Pacifica Institute and Fethullah Gülen
Q: What is Pacifica Institute?
A: Pacifica Institute was established in 2003 as a non-profit organization by a group of Turkish-Americans. Pacifica Institute designs and executes projects covering social welfare, education, poverty, and conflict resolution issues in collaboration with scholars, activists, artists, politicians, and religious leaders-communities. The Pacifica Institute has a proven track record of working within and across communities. This work is planned and complemented through the input of the board and Board of Advisors, a distinguished group of individuals representing a wide range of expertise and experience.
Q: Is Pacifica Institute an Islamic organization?
A: No, Pacifica Institute is an intercultural and interfaith organization, which is open to people of all faiths. We think of Pacifica Institute as not a “faith-based” organization, but a “faith-inspired” one. Pacifica Institute aims to cultivate a culture of coexistence where people could comfortably express their identities, interact and enrich one another.
Q: What kinds of activities does Pacifica Institute conduct?
A: Pacifica Institute organizes Anatolian cultures and food festival, annual dialog and friendship dinners, luncheon forums, lecture series, interfaith conversation talk series, conferences, international children’s art and dance festival, and intercultural & international dialog trips, to enrich dialogue and communication among communities. Pacifica Institute also executes social projects to advance social responsibility awareness in the community.
Q: Where does Pacifica Institute get its funding?
A: Pacifica Institute’s majority funding comes from individual donors. Pacifica Institute also receives some sponsorship based on certain projects.
Q: How is the Pacifica Institute involved with the Gülen movement?
A: Some of the founders and donors of Pacifica Institute are participants of the so-called Gülen, or Hizmet movement. Pacifica Institute was inspired by the movement’s philosophy and goals. We both are focused on bringing together communities in order to promote compassion, cooperation, partnership and community service through interfaith dialog and conversation. We are especially dedicated to encouraging the study of the global communities’ spiritual traditions from the vantage point of respect, accuracy and appreciation.
The Gülen/Hizmet Movement
Q: What is the Gülen/Hizmet movement?
A: The Gülen/Hizmet movement is a values-driven social movement and following a philosophy that advances interfaith dialog, education and community service as tools to build a better and more harmonious society. The movement was inspired by the philosophy and teachings of Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish scholar, author and advocate. However, participants prefer to refer to it as the Hizmet/Gulen Movement — hizmet means “service” or, in a broader sense, serving your community.
Q: What are the Hizmet/Gulen movement’s values?
A: They are core values shared by millions around the world: Education, spirituality, democracy, social justice, interfaith/intercultural dialogue and community service.
Q: Is the Gülen/Hizmet movement a political movement? A: No, it does not have a political agenda and reflects diverse political views. Q: Is the Gülen/Hizmet movement a religious (Islamic) movement?
A: No. Although it originated in a community of Muslims, it has grown into a broad movement that embraces diverse religious affiliations and is built on intercultural and interfaith dialog. Indeed, the movement has been criticized by radical Islamists as being “not Muslim enough.”
Q: Is the Gülen/Hizmet movement a Turkish movement?
A: No. Although it originated in Turkey, it has become a truly transnational movement with participants from very diverse international community.
Q: Where is the Gülen/Hizmet movement based?
A: The Gülen/Hizmet movement is not centralized; there is no headquarter governing the movement. Fethullah Gülen’s teachings inspired the movement but he has no legal/institutional authority.
Q: Who is Fethullah Gülen?
A: Fethullah Gülen is a Turkish scholar, preacher, thinker, author, opinion leader, education activist, and peace advocate who is considered by many to be one of the world’s most influential religious thinkers. He is regarded as the initiator and inspirer of the worldwide civil society movement, the Gülen Movement, which is committed to education, dialogue, peace, social justice, and social harmony. Gülen has published more than sixty books in Turkish, many of which have been translated to more than thirty languages. He was listed among the top hundred public intellectuals in the world by Foreign Policy magazine in May 2008 .
Q: What are some examples to Mr Gulen’s ideas on peace and democracy?
A: Some examples that illustrate his perspective: Fethullah Gulen
• has consistently opposed violence and turning religion into a political ideology.
• has publicly called Osama Bin Laden a “monster.”
• has condemned all suicide bombings unconditionally and Saddam Hussein’s missile attacks on Israel during the first Gulf War.
• criticized the 2010 Gaza flotilla organizers’ failure to seek accord with Israel before attempting to deliver aid.
• has actively advanced the empowerment of ethnic and religious minorities in Turkey, including the anticipated reopening of the Halki Greek Orthodox seminary on Istanbul’s Heybeliada Island and the Turkish government’s return of property to religious minorities.
• supported allowing Kurdish citizens of Turkey to be educated in their native tongue.
• has publicly promoted democracy as the best form of governance and supported Turkey’s bid to join the European Union.
Q: Why does Fethullah Gülen live in United States?
A: In one of his latest interviews he mentioned that he finds peace and serenity in where he lives now.
Q: What is Fethullah Gülen’s view on United States?
A: He praises the high level of democracy, work ethics, and legal system in America.
Q: Some say that Fethullah Gülen has tried to stop publications that perceive him in a negative light. Is this true?
A: Gülen has never tried to stop the publication of media coverage of him or the movement. In fact, Gülen talks about the crucial nature of freedom in some of his books, and lists free thinking and freedom of expression as one of the aspects and characteristics of a virtuous generation. Dozens of publications that stridently criticize Gülen’s teachings have been in circulation for several years and have continued being reprinted.
Q: What about claims by some that Fethullah Gülen has a “hidden agenda” to go back to Turkey and seize control of the government?
A: The supposed “evidence” of that claim is a forged videotape of Gülen’s sermons that actually consists of pieces of several sermons deliberately taken out of context and spliced together in order to mislead the public. As human rights attorney James C. Harrington noted in an April 2012 article, a Turkish trial court has ruled that the videotape was fabricated. (http://www.todayszaman.com/newsDetail_getNewsById.action?load=detay&newsId=278603&link=278603)