Event promotes religious and environmental dialogue

On Thursday, Nov. 4, an event to promote intercultural dialogue titled “Making Peace With & In the World: The Role of The Gulen Movement in the Task of Eco-Justice,” took place in the Student Center.

On Thursday, Nov. 4, an event to promote intercultural dialogue titled “Making Peace With & In the World: The Role of The Gulen Movement in the Task of Eco-Justice,” took place in the Student Center.

Sponsored by the Philadelphia Dialogue Forum, the Rumi Student Association and Temple’s Department of Religion, the conference consisted of religious scholars and environmentalists discussing Gulen’s influence on encouraging peace in humanity.

“We’ve held conferences nationwide colleges and cultural centers,” said Philadelphia Dialogue Forum President Omer Genc. “There must be dialogue between people of different faiths to achieve peace around the world.”

Fethullah Gulen is a Turkish Muslim scholar who advocates human rights, interfaith dialogue, and harmonious coexistence.

During the years of political turmoil in Turkey, the youth was attracted to extremist ideologies via the violent polarization of socialism and nationalism. Gulen strove to inspire the Turkish youth toward an apolitical way of service to society, based on a peaceful lifestyle.

“Gulen was among the first Muslim scholars to criticize Osama Bin Laden following the September 11th terrorist attacks,” visiting professor of religion Jon Pahl said.

The conference featured many influential speakers such as Professor of Religion Dr. John Raines, who promoted unity between human and environment.

“Runaway capitalism is the material idolatry that now owns and runs the world,” Raines said.

“Eco-Justice is the task of global economic justice and at the same moment the task of global ecological justice. To pursue that task, we must disenthrall ourselves of the dominant ideology that defines the self in relationship to its material possessions.”

As an example of the eco-justice initiative, Pahl mentioned the “development of green industries” to make “biotechnology sustainable.”

Genc encouraged Temple students to become engaged in intercultural dialogue.

“Having a campus with such diversity is a nice opportunity to learn about and embrace multiple cultures,” said Genc.

“Students should seek out varying religious organizations to better understand their beliefs. Temple has a great atmosphere for participating in open, peaceful dialogue.”

Reflecting on the conference, Pahl expressed not only his interest in working with the attendees in the future but also his appreciation to Temple.

“It is good to know that others are active and care about these issues of eco-justice and peace,” Pahl said.

“As a researcher of violence and religion, I’m inspired to pursue my studies due to the shared enthusiasm by these international scholars,” Pahl said. “I am very grateful that Temple hosted this event. With its state of diversity, promoting open dialogue has always been Temple’s greatest asset.”

“It is the heart of what Temple stands for.”

John Corrigan can be reached at john.corrigan@temple.edu.


  1. Fethullah Gulen is a remarkable social activist to initiate interfaith and intercultural dialog in Turkey in the early 90s and was courageous to reach to the other side and persistent in his efforts to turn walls into tables.

  2. Much of this article reads as if it were a reprint of a press release. Please note that the Philadelphia Dialogue Forum and the Rumi Student Association are both run by followers of Fethullah Gulen.

    Some fact-checking is needed. First, Gulen is not apolitical. He has endorsed Turkey’s ruling AKP party and is closely associated with them. During the months leading up to Turkey’s September 12, 2010 constitutional referendum, he openly called for people to vote “yes”. A “yes” vote had the effect of greatly increasing the AKP’s power.

    Regarding the claim that Fethullah Gulen advocates human rights:

    Could the reporter tell us whether Temple University is receiving any funding from any Gulen-associated organization?

  3. Americans are too, gullible.

    Yes, go to the Fethullah Gulen propaganda sites, just as the one above, then continue on your way to explore information from OTHER sources. Once you study the Gulen Movement, you’ll come to find that it is secretive and highly manipulative. They are running over 120 U.S. charter schools and won’t even admit it.

    The amount of energy these people put into persuasion, and saccharine fawning over F. Gulen and his teachings, definitely reminds me of a cult.

  4. Joshua Hendrick tells the story about how Gulen ended up as Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines’ most “influential public intellectual” in the world in 2008.

    The magazines asked for readers to vote for their favorite. Votes flooded in for Fethullah Gulen, which completely surprised the editors who had no idea who F.G. even was at the time. If Gulen had been doing so much good for the world for decades at that point, why didn’t these people — who are certainly highly knowledgeable about world affairs — know a thing about him? The votes for Gulen surpassed those of well-known figures by a wide margin.

    The Gulenists had taken advantage of their organization, technological savvy, and drive to praise and promote their leader, largely through their media empire. The Gulen movement is a tight network of people on a religious mission who are pushing an agenda… I’ll give them that.

    Gullible people who parrot their propaganda are giving them a lot of help.

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