Event Details

Roundtable Lunch Discussion

The Future of Gülen Movement in Europe: Influence of Turkish Politics After the Coup Attempt

With  Prof. Johan Leman, KU Leuven University

Prof. Thijl Sunier, VU University Amsterdam

Tuesday, 7 February 2017 at 12:30 

Dialogue Platform, Rue Montoyer 31, Brussels 1000


Beginning as a grassroots community in Turkey in the 1970s, Hizmet (a.k.a. Gülen movement)  is a transnational social initiative active in education, interfaith dialogue and humanitarian aid over 180 countries including Europe.

Accused by president Erdogan for overthrowing his government first in 2013 after the corruption scandal and then failed coup attempt in July 2016, Gülen movement has been declared as terrorist organisation by the Turkish state and all of media, schools, universities, dormitories, associations and foundations affiliated with Gülen movement shut down by decree of law. Tens of thousands of people from the movement are in jail now and their private properties/companies are confiscated. The conflict between Erdoğan’s Turkey and Hizmet is extended and spilled into overseas. In some countries such as in Pakistan, Somalia; Erdoğan’s efforts to close down Hizmet schools were successful.

Facing the challenges coming from Turkey, the crucial question is to understand how the post-coup process is shaping the future of the movement, especially in Europe? Could movement sustain its activities outside Turkey?

This event will give the opportunity to have a discussion with two expert anthropologists who have extensive work on muslims and ethnic communities in Europe and explore how Turkish domestic politics affects the Turkish community in Europe.


Prof. Johan Leman, KU Leuven University

Professor Leman is social and cultural anthropologist in Belgium. He is currently emeritus professor in social and cultural anthropology at KU Leuven (Catholic University of Leuven). He has taught ‘migration and minority policies and its anthropological implications’, ‘ethnicity and its application at Mediterranean cultures’, ‘interethnic majority-minority relations in Europe’, ‘introduction in social and cultural anthropology, and criminological issues’ and ‘anthropology of religion’. 

He guides PhD research multiculturalism, interethnic relations, border and boundary crossing (conversion studies), Mediterranean cultures. He has been former chief of cabinet of the Royal Commissioner for Migrant Policy in Belgium and former Director of the federal Centre for equal opportunities and opposition against racism. 

Prof Leman was the chairholder of KU Leuven GCIS (Gulen Chair in Intercultural Studies) between 2010 and 2014 and he is the president of Foyer, regional minority centre in Brussels.

Prof. Thijl Sunier, VU University Amsterdam

Professor Sunier is cultural anthropologist in the Netherland and holds the position of chair in “Islam in European societies” at VU University Amsterdam. His research interests are anthropology of religion (Islam, politics and Islam, leadership, young people and Islam), migration, ethnicity, nation building and European history, Turkey.

Prof Sunier is head of the Social and Cultural Anthropology department; president of the Dutch Association of Anthropologists; chairman of NISIS; and a member of the editorial board of Journal of Muslims in Europe. He is also co-leader of the project called “Making Islam Work in the Netherlands.”

For detailed background information on the topic please read the article by clicking here