The Hizmet Movement on Extremism: A Proactive Approach for Deradicalisation

With Prof Johan Leman & Dr Ismail Sezgin

Wednesday 14th January 2015 at 12:30 

Dialogue Platform, Rue Montoyer 31, Brussels 1000

Abstract: ‘Hizmet’ is a Turkish word, which literally means service. It is also the name of a trans-national civil society movement originating from Turkey. The movement is inspired by the teachings and works of Fethullah Gulen a Turkish/Muslim scholar and peace advocate. The Hizmet Movement focuses on education, dialogue and relief work and functions as a loosely connected network of people sharing similar ideals and principles. It has founded over a thousand schools; hundreds of dialogue organisations; business associations, clinics; media outlets; humanitarian aid and other charitable NGOs in over 150 countries worldwide. 

Since movement is composed predominantly of practicing Muslims inspired by their Islamic faith to engage in activities inclusive of people regardless of faith it is important to ask how this movement views and responds to the issue of (violent) extremism emanating from among Muslims whose interpretation of Islam appears to be diametrically opposed to those of Gulen. Accordingly, this talk will look at three points: (a) Hizmet’s theoretical and theological perspective (that fundamentally differentiates it from ISIL type ideology) on extremism (b) Hizmet practices that in some capacity relate to tackling the causes of extremism and (c) An alternative approach to tackling violent extremist ideology with recommendations for policy makers and faith inspired movements and groups such as Hizmet.

Biography of Prof Johan Leman: 

Professor Leman is social and cultural anthropologist in Belgium. He had PhD in social and cultural anthropology, MA in philosophy, MA in eastern philology and history, K.U. Leuven (Catholic University of Leuven). Prof Leman is emeritus professor in social and cultural anthropology at the Faculty of Social Sciences at K.U. 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.

Biography of Ismail Sezgin

Ismail Mesut Sezgin is a PhD researcher at the Institute for Spirituality, Religion and Public Life in Leeds Metropolitan University. Having had his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science at Marmara University in Istanbul, Sezgin is now studying on religion and society relations. He is working on a PhD thesis titled “Theory of Moral Responsibility in the Writings of Fethullah Gülen”. His research interests include Ethics, Islam, Sufism, Political Islam and Turkish Politics. He has given seminars and reflections on these issues in various occasions.