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Appointed by US President Barack Obama and the first Muslim woman to be a member of the White House Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, Dalia Mogahed has said the Gülen movement, a faith-based social movement named after Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gulen, is a model and inspiration for all those working for the good of the society.
Mogahed continues to head the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies in Washington, D.C., as well as her advisory duty to Obama while focusing on inter-religious dialogue and cooperation, a task she has been carrying out for more than two months now. Members of the 25-seat council are appointed to a one-year term and work on recommendations in the area of their expertise which are then included in the annual report after being reviewed by the larger council and ultimately presented to the US president.
Specifically drawing attention to the movement's emphasis on intercultural and interfaith dialogue activities, Obama's advisor said this initiative is “highly admirable and impressive,” adding that the "followers of this movement have done a phenomenal job by working on interfaith dialogue.”
For the last 20 years, the Gülen movement has been active in delivering humanitarian aid to various parts of the world, establishing trade relations between businessmen worldwide, opening healthcare institutions and carrying out dialogue activities between peoples of different cultural and religious backgrounds. However, its primary focus is on education. Teachers and businessmen inspired by the teachings of Gülen, which emphasize the importance of educating young generations with the idea of peaceful coexistence and mutual understanding, have opened education institutions of various forms; from elementary schools to universities to language courses in over 100 countries so far. Some 700 students from 115 countries receiving a high-quality education in these institutions participated in the 7th Turkish Olympiads, organized a week ago in Turkey and watched by millions in the country.
“I think the Gülen movement offers people a model of what is possible if a dedicated group of people work together for the good of the society. I also think that it is an inspiration for other people and Muslims for what they can accomplish,” Mogahed said, commending the movement. She noted that “this initiative has a lot to teach to other people and Muslims, but it needs to broaden its membership profile.” She then elaborated on her advice to the movement. “It has moved beyond Turkey in its very benevolent projects and it serves people from all around the world of all backgrounds, but it is still made up mostly of Turks. That is what I feel is in need of expanding,” she said.
When reminded that some speculate the movement has a hidden agenda, Mogahed told Sunday's Zaman that she usually does not attach any importance to such allegations put forward without evidence. “And I have not seen any evidence so far,” she said.