Multicultural Mosaic Foundation’s Statement Regarding Immigration Ban


We are deeply concerned with President Trump’s recent executive order, which temporarily restricts travel to the US from seven Muslim-majority nations. This ban prevents those refugees who have already undergone rigorous vetting from seeking refuge in the US, denying even the most vulnerable and traumatized victims of the Syrian civil war. This unilateral measure has created profound confusion, anxiety, and fear, among many in the US and abroad.

Keeping America safe should always be a high priority for our government. We support actions taken by the US government to secure the safety of American citizens, provided that these actions are compatible with the US Constitution and democratic norms, and do not undermine fundamental American values. We also support those actions that do not compromise our partnerships with those communities around the world who are engaged in peace-building. We support measures that strengthen-not weaken-our bonds with those who are our partners in peace. Indeed, the vast majority of Muslims globally share in this vision, some of whom are themselves the victims of lawless violence, and we stand with them as we stand with all who champion inclusivity and tolerance of others.

America’s history of building a strong and resilient democracy is proof that welcoming immigrants from different cultures and traditions, and maintaining security and the rule of law, are not mutually exclusive. To the contrary, what makes our nation strong is its ability-indeed its commitment-to embrace people of all races, ethnicities and religions.

Extreme partisanship and social polarization are a threat to the very fabric of our great and unique nation. We hope and pray that the American people and their government are able to work together to overcome these deep-seated tensions created by contesting viewpoints and perspectives. We call on political, intellectual, and religious leaders, as well as the media, to act responsibly and constructively during these turbulent times.

The mission of our organization is to promote tolerance and the celebration of others through interfaith and intercultural understanding. We stand ready to facilitate and join all efforts to reconcile social and political tensions through respectful dialogue and peace-building.

Multicultural Mosaic Foundation

Mosaic supports South Denver High School

Immigrant students are three times more likely than native-born Americans to drop out of high school. While immigrants in the United States comprise only about one-tenth of the U.S. population ages 16 through 24, they account for one-quarter of the status dropouts in this age group.

That is why Multicultural Mosaic Foundation has worked on developing a fundraising program benefiting 9th grade immigrant and refugee students at one of the most diverse schools in Denver, Colorado, South High School. With the help of school administrators, community support, parents, volunteers from the Mosaic, and you, our donors, we have raised $1448,97 for generous school supply packages
for more than 25 newcomer students.

With your generous donations we had a chance to buy 5 notebooks, 5 colored folders, 2 binders, 1 pack of paper, 2 pack of pencils, 1 pack of pens, 1 pack of highlights, eraser, pencil case, post-its, and 1 backpack for each student.

We would like to thank our generous donors, South High School Principal Jenifer Hanson, Community/Family Liaison, Karen Duell and South High Business Teacher Diane Aqra.

There cannot be a mention of democracy without upholding the rule of law, separation of powers, …

Fethullah Gulen’s op-ed in the Franch Le Monde concerning the recent accusations by the Turkish government:


In the night of July 15th, Turkey has gone through the most catastrophic tragedy of its recent history as a result of the attempted military coup. The events of that night could be called as a serious terror coup.

Turkish people from all walks of life who thought that the era of military coup was over, showed solidarity against the coup and on the side of democracy. While the coup attempt was in progress I condemned it in the strongest terms.

Twenty minutes after the military coup attempt surfaced, before the real actors were known, President Erdogan hastily blamed me. It is troubling that a guilty label was issued without waiting for the details of the event and the motives of the perpetrators to emerge. As someone who has suffered four coups in the last 50 years, this is especially insulting to be associated with a coup attempt. I categorically reject such accusations.

I have been living a reclusive life in self-exile in a small village in the USA for the last 17 years. The claim that I convinced the 8th biggest army in the world from 6000 miles away against its own government is an incredible slander and has not found resonance in the world opinion.
If there are any officers among the coup plotters who consider themselves as a sympathizer of Hizmet movement, in my opinion those people committed treason against the unity of their country by taking part in an event where their own citizens lost their lives. They have also violated the values that I have cherished throughout my life and caused hundreds of thousands of innocent people to suffer under oppressive treatment.

If there are those who acted under the influence of an interventionist culture that affects a part the military and have put these interventionist reflexes before Hizmet values, which I believe is not likely, a whole movement cannot be blamed for their wrongdoings. I leave them to God’s judgement.
Nobody is above the rule of law, including me. I would like those who are responsible for this coup attempt, regardless of their identities, to receive the punishment they deserve after a fair trial. Turkish justice system has been brought under political control of the government since 2014, therefore possibility of a fair trial is very small. For this reason, I have advocated several times for the establishment of an international commission and I expressed my commitment to abide by the findings of such a commission.

The participants of Hizmet movement have never been involved in even a single violent incident throughout its 50 years of history. They haven’t even gone out to streets and confronted the security forces even though they have been suffering a ‘witch hunt’, as Erdoğan clearly stated, for the last three years.

Despite being subjected to a smear campaign and suffering under state oppression for the last three years by the state’s law enforcement and judiciary, Hizmet movement participants had complied with the law, opposed injustices through legitimate means and only defended their rights within the legal framework.

Turkey’s legal and law enforcement agencies have been mobilized for the last three years to investigate and reveal an alleged ‘paralel state’ which they claim that I run.

The administration called the public corruption probe in 2013 as an organized attempt by Hizmet sympathizers in bureaucracy to bring down the government. Despite detaining 4000 people, purging tens of thousands of government employees, taking over hundreds of NGOs and private businesses unlawfully they were not able to find a single piece of credible evidence to prove their claims.

Despite calling an opportunity to meet with me a “heaven-sent” in May 2013, after the public corruption probe emerged in December 2013 Turkey’s prime minister at the time began to use hate language such as “assassins” and “blood sucking vampires” to refer to movement participants.

After the treasonous coup attempt of July 15th, these attacks have become unbearable. Turkish government officials began referring to me and people sympathetic to my views as ‘virus’ and ‘cancer cells that needs to be wiped out’. Hundreds of thousands of people, who have supported the institutions and organizations affiliated with the movement in one way or another are dehumanized.

Their private properties are confiscated, bank accounts taken over, and their freedom of travel is taken away by cancelling their passports. Hundreds of thousands of families are living through a humanitarian tragedy due this ongoing witch hunt. News media reported that nearly 90,000 individuals have been purged from their jobs and the teaching licenses of 21,000 teachers have been revoked.

Is the Turkish government forcing these families to starve to death by preventing them from doing their jobs and prohibiting them from leaving the country? What is this treatment and the pre-genocide practices in European history?

I’ve witnessed every single military coup in Turkey and have suffered in each like many other Turkish citizens. I was imprisoned by the order of junta administration after March 12, 1971 coup. After the coup of September 12, 1980 a detention warrant was issued against me and I lived as a fugitive for 6 years.

Right after February 28, 1997 post-modern military coup, a lawsuit asking the capital punishment was filed against me with the charge of “an unarmed terrorist organization consisting of one person”.

During all these oppressive military-dominated administrations, three cases with the accusation of “leading a terror organization” were opened against me and in each case I was cleared of those charges. I was targeted by the authoritarian military administrations back then, now I am facing the very same accusations in even more unlawful manner by a civilian autocratic regime.

I had friendly relations with leaders from various political affiliations such as Mr. Turgut Ozal, Mr. Suleyman Demirel, and Mr. Bulent Ecevit and sincerely supported their policies that I found to be beneficial. I was treated with respect by them especially for Hizmet activities that contribute to social peace and education.

Even though I kept a distance with the idea of Political Islam, I praised the democratic reforms undertaken by Mr. Erdogan and AKP leaders during their first term in power.

But throughout my life I have stood against military coups and intervention in domestic politics. When I declared twenty years ago that; “there is no turning back from democracy and secularism of the state”, I was accused and insulted by the same political Islamists who are close to today’s administration. I still stand behind my words. More than seventy books that are based on my articles and sermons of forty years are publicly available. Not only there is not a single expression that legitimizes the idea of a coup in these works but, to the contrary, they discuss universal human values that are the foundation of a democracy.

Emancipation of Turkey from the vicious cycle of authoritarianism is possible only through internalization of a democratic culture, and a merit based administration. Neither a military coup nor civilian autocracy is a solution.

Unfortunately, in a country where independent media outlets are shut down or taken under government’s custody, a significant portion of Turkish citizens were made to believe by continuous propaganda that I am the actor behind the July 15 coup. However, world opinion, which is shaped by objective information, clearly sees that what is going on is a power grab by the administration behind the excuse of a witch hunt.
Of course, what matters is not majority opinion but the truths that will emerge through a fair trial process. Tens of thousands of people, including myself, who have been the target of such a gross accusation, would like to clear our names through a fair judicial process. We do not want to live with this suspicion that was cast on us. Unfortunately, the government’s exerting political control over the judiciary since 2014, took away the opportunity for the Hizmet sympathizers to clear their names from these accusations.

I openly call on the Turkish Government to allow for an international commission to investigate this coup attempt, and promise full cooperation in this matter. If I they found one tenth of the accusations against me to be justified, I am ready to go back to Turkey and receive the harshest punishment.
The participants of this movement have been overseen by hundreds of governments, intelligence agencies, researchers or independent civil society organizations for 25 years and have never been found to be involved in illegal activity. For this reason, many countries do not take the accusations of Turkish government seriously.

The most important characteristic of Hizmet movement is to not to seek political power, instead to seek solutions for the problems threatening the future of their societies which require a long term effort. At a time when the Muslim-majority societies make the news by terror, blood shed, and underdevelopment, Hizmet participants have been focusing on raising educated generations who are open to dialog and actively contributing to their society.

Since I have always believed that the biggest problems facing these societies are ignorance, intolerance-driven conflicts and poverty, I always encouraged people who would listen to me to start schools instead of mosques or Quran tutoring centers.
Hizmet participants are active in areas of education, medical care, and humanitarian aid not only in Turkey but also in over 160 countries around the world. The most significant characteristic of these activities is that they serve people of all religions and ethnic backgrounds not just Muslims.
Movement participants opened schools for girls in the most difficult areas of Pakistan and continued to provide education in Central African Republic during the civil war. While Boko Haram took girls as hostage in Nigeria, Hizmet participants opened schools that educated girls. In France and the French-speaking world, I encouraged people who share the same ideas with me to fight against groups that embrace radical Islamic thoughts and to support the authorities in this struggle. In these countries, I struggled to help Muslims to be recognized as free and contributing members of the society, and becoming part of the solution rather being associated with problems.

Despite receiving threats, I categorically condemned the terrorist groups such as Al Qaida and ISIS who taint the bright face of Islam numerous times. However, Turkish government is trying to set the governments around the world against the schools opened by the individuals who did not take part in July 15 attempt and who always categorically rejected violence. My appeal to the world governments is not to take their claims seriously and reject their irrational demands.

Indeed, Turkish government’s political decision to declared Hizmet movement as a terrorist organization resulted in the shutting down of institutions such as schools, hospitals, and relief organizations. Those who have been jailed are teachers, entrepreneurs, doctors, academicians, and journalists. Against the hundreds of thousands of their witch hunt, they did not produce any evidence to show that they supported the coup or that they were associated with any violence.

It is not possible to justify actions such as burning down a cultural center in Paris, detaining family members of wanted individuals as hostages, denying journalists access to medical while in detention, shutting down 35 hospitals and Kimse Yok Mu humanitarian relief organization, or forcing 1500 Academicians to resign as part of a post-coup investigation.

It appears that, by presenting the recent purges as only targeting Hizmet participants, Turkish government is actually removing anyone from bureaucracy who are not loyalists of the ruling party and also intimidating civil society organizations. It is dreadful to see human rights violations including torture detailed in the reports by Amnesty International. This is a human tragedy.

The fact that the July 15 coup attempt, which was an anti-democratic intervention against an elected government was foiled with the support of Turkish public is historically significant. However, the prevention of the coup does not guarantee a victory for Democracy. Neither the domination of a minority group nor the domination of a majority and their oppressing the minority, nor the rule of an elected autocrat is a true democracy.
There cannot be a mention of democracy without upholding the rule of law, separation of powers, and protection of essential human rights and freedoms, especially the freedom of expression. True victory for Turkish democracy is only possible by reviving these core values.

Appeared in Le Monde on August 12, 2016

Fethullah Gulen: I Condemn All Threats to Turkey’s Democracy

JULY 25, 2016


SAYLORSBURG, Pa. — During the attempted military coup in Turkey this month, I condemned it in the strongest terms. “Government should be won through a process of free and fair elections, not force,” I said. “I pray to God for Turkey, for Turkish citizens, and for all those currently in Turkey that this situation is resolved peacefully and quickly.”

Despite my unequivocal protest, similar to statements issued by all three of the major opposition parties, Turkey’s increasingly authoritarian president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, immediately accused me of orchestrating the putsch. He demanded that the United States extradite me from my home in Pennsylvania, where I have lived in voluntary exile since 1999.

Not only does Mr. Erdogan’s suggestion run afoul of everything I believe in, it is also irresponsible and wrong.

My philosophy — inclusive and pluralist Islam, dedicated to service to human beings from every faith — is antithetical to armed rebellion. For more than 40 years, the participants in the movement that I am associated with — called Hizmet, the Turkish word for “service” — have advocated for, and demonstrated their commitment to, a form of government that derives its legitimacy from the will of the people and that respects the rights of all citizens regardless of their religious views, political affiliations or ethnic origins. Entrepreneurs and volunteers inspired by Hizmet’s values have invested in modern education and community service in more than 150 countries.

At a time when Western democracies are searching for moderate Muslim voices, I and my friends in the Hizmet movement have taken a clear stance against extremist violence, from the Sept. 11 attacks by Al Qaeda to brutal executions by the Islamic State to the kidnappings by Boko Haram.

In addition to condemning mindless violence, including during the coup attempt, we have emphasized our commitment to preventing terrorists’ recruitment from among Muslim youth and nurturing a peaceful, pluralist mind-set.

Throughout my life, I have publicly and privately denounced military interventions in domestic politics. In fact, I have been advocating for democracy for decades. Having suffered through four military coups in four decades in Turkey — and having been subjected by those military regimes to harassment and wrongful imprisonment — I would never want my fellow citizens to endure such an ordeal again. If somebody who appears to be a Hizmet sympathizer has been involved in an attempted coup, he betrays my ideals.

Nevertheless, Mr. Erdogan’s accusation is no surprise, not for what it says about me but rather for what it reveals about his systematic and dangerous drive toward one-man rule.

Like many Turkish citizens, the Hizmet movement’s participants supported Mr. Erdogan’s early efforts to democratize Turkey and fulfill the requirements for membership in the European Union. But we were not silent as he turned from democracy to despotism. Even before these new purges, Mr. Erdogan in recent years has arbitrarily closed newspapers; removed thousands of judges, prosecutors, police officers and civil servants from their positions; and taken especially harsh measures against Kurdish communities. He has declared his detractors enemies of the state.

Hizmet, in particular, has been the target of the president’s wrath. In 2013, Mr. Erdogan blamed Hizmet sympathizers within the Turkish bureaucracy for initiating a corruption investigation that implicated members of his cabinet and other close associates. As a result, scores of members of the judiciary and the police forces were purged or arrested for simply doing their jobs.

Since 2014, when Mr. Erdogan was elected president after 11 years as prime minister, he has sought to transform Turkey from a parliamentary democracy into an “executive presidency,” essentially without checks on his power. In that context, Mr. Erdogan’s recent statement that the failed coup was a “gift from God” is ominous. As he seeks to purge still more dissenters from government agencies — nearly 70,000 people have been fired so far — and to crack down further on Hizmet and other civil society organizations, he is removing many of the remaining impediments to absolute power. Amnesty International has revealed “credible” reports of torture, including rape, at detention centers. No wonder Mr. Erdogan’s government suspended the European Convention on Human Rights and declared a state of emergency.

Turkey’s president is blackmailing the United States by threatening to curb his country’s support for the international coalition against the Islamic State. His goal: to ensure my extradition, despite a lack of credible evidence and virtually no prospect for a fair trial. The temptation to give Mr. Erdogan whatever he wants is understandable. But the United States must resist it.

Violent extremism feeds on the frustrations of those forced to live under dictators who cannot be challenged by peaceful protests and democratic politics. In Turkey, the Erdogan government’s shift toward a dictatorship is polarizing the population along sectarian, political, religious and ethnic lines, fueling the fanatics.

For the sake of worldwide efforts to restore peace in turbulent times, as well as to safeguard the future of democracy in the Middle East, the United States must not accommodate an autocrat who is turning a failed putsch into a slow-motion coup of his own against constitutional government.

New York Times:

Fethullah Gulen issued the following statement on the Orlando shooting attack

June 17th, 2016

I am shocked and deeply saddened by the horrific attack that took place in Orlando, the deadliest
mass shooting in United States history. I unequivocally condemn this hate-driven terrorist attack
and I share my revolt and disgust with billions of people around the world.

Media reports stated that the attacker pledged allegiance to ISIS on the night of the attack. The
totalitarian mentality that characterizes terrorist groups like ISIS should be treated like a cancer
within our societies and countered through political, social and religious efforts.

To the family and friends of the deceased, I send my sincerest condolences and pray that in the
collective consciousness of humanity, the values of mutual respect and
dignity of every human life triumph over fear and hate.

We Strongly Condemn the Heinous Attack on Innocent People in Orlando

Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of Orlando terror and hate attack. We condemn all forms of religious and other forms of extremism that teach hatred and incite violence. However, we need to do more than merely condemning these horrific acts and proactively take steps to counter the “cancer” of extremism.

First, our society as a whole needs to deny the extremist narrative that their actions represent Muslims. It goes without saying that Muslim Americans should promote the peaceful message of Islam.

Our deeds matter more than our words. We should build institutions and programs to cater to the needs of our youth and provide them opportunities to develop social skills to be productive members of our multicultural society. It is imperative to invest in our youth so that they are driven more by hopes and dreams, not hatred and fear of the others.

One such principle is that taking the life of a single innocent is a crime against all humanity

“Every terrorist act carried out in the name of Islam profoundly affects all Muslims, alienating them from fellow citizens and deepening the misperceptions about their faith’s ethos.” 2016 Around the Fountain series started with a compelling argument from Fethullan Gülen. Fethullah Gülen in his article “Muslims Must Fight Extremist Cancer” makes six suggestions for Muslims to take action against the extremist terror in the name of Islam:
a. First, we must denounce violence and not fall prey to victim-hood.
b. Second, it is important to promote a holistic understanding of Islam
c. Third, Muslims must publicly promote human rights—dignity, life and liberty.
d. Fourth, Muslims must provide educational opportunities to every member of their communities, where the study of sciences, humanities and arts is embedded in a culture of respect for every living being.
e. Fifth, providing religious education to Muslims is critical to depriving extremists of a tool that they use to spread their twisted ideologies.
f. Finally, it is imperative that Muslims support equal rights for women and men.

The January session of the Around the Fountain discussion that took place at Mosaic focused on various aspects of extremism and its relationship with Islam. About 35 participants from different backgrounds had the opportunity to seek answers to their hard-pressing questions. In agreement with Mr. Gülen, the participants contended that violent extremism has no religion as there will always be people who manipulate faith texts. Also participants asserted that mainstream Islam is a way of moderation as Islam’s core ethics are not left to interpretation.

According to Mr. Gülen, “One such principle is that taking the life of a single innocent is a crime against all humanity (Quran 5:32). Even in an act of defense in war, violence against any noncombatants, especially women, children and clergy, is specifically prohibited by the Prophet’s teachings.”

Love is A Verb Screening in Colorado Springs on Feb. 11th

Love is a Verb

Love Is A Verb is an examination of a social movement of Sufi inspired Sunni Muslims that began in Turkey in the l960s and now reaches across the globe. The group is called Hizmet, the Turkish word for service or The Gulen Movement after its inspiration, leader and beloved teacher Fethullah Gulen, a man that Time Magazine named as one of the most influential leaders in the world in 2013.

Through a co-operation with the people inspired by Fethullah Gulen, we had an unprecedented access to the ideas and actions of the movement around the world. We met teachers who crawled through a tunnel to open a school in Sarajevo during the war and the students whose lives they changed. We met a Sufi conductor whose orchestra is composed of children whose parents were once at war. We got a glimpse of the interfaith work the movement provides in Turkey, including a visit to Rumi’s exquisite shrine. We went to their schools in Turkey, in Somalia, in Iraq. We meet a Kurdish teacher in Iraq who credits everything she is to her former Turkish teachers who stayed during the bombings, and a Kurdish woman who had also gone to one of the Turkish schools in Iraq and is now working as an engineer to bring water to the dessert. Finally, in Somalia we follow two Turkish doctors putting their lives at risk in a place where other relief organizations have deemed too dangerous, a place where they sleep under armed guard.

Colorado Springs, CO, US, 80922: Thursday, February 11 6:30PM – 7:25PM at Cinemark Carefree Circle and IMAX 3305 Cinema Point, Colorado Springs, CO, US, 80922 – CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS AND TRAILER

The Gulen Movement: A Shared Bridge between the U.S. and Islam by Peter J. Mehl

A lively Around the Fountain program took place at Multicultural Mosaic Foundation on

September 19, 2015. There were about fifteen participants, and they discussed the Fountain

Magazine article The Gulen Movement: A Shared Bridge between the U.S. and Islam by

Peter J. Mehl. Dr. Mehl is a Professor of philosophy and religion at the University of Central

Arkansas, and shared his views on the Gülen Movement’s intercultural and educational

endeavors in his article. The participants enjoyed Turkish tea, cake, and various snacks during

the program.

The excerpt “Life is a shared bridge of ‘passing over’ and ‘coming back.’ It is a passing

over to other cultures and faiths, not to disown one’s own heritage, but to come back to

incorporate new wisdoms and insight into one’s own worldview. The Gülen Movement is one

such bridge,” summarizes the main idea of the article that the participants of the discussion

pondered on. Participants also reflected on their experiences with the Movement, and drew

parallels between the social relations in the United States and Turkey. Some of the participants

had visited Turkey multiple times and expressed how the two visits differed and how the

representation of minorities in Turkey presented problems in interfaith relations. Others

expressed the need to act on shared interfaith/intercultural vision to make a difference in society

and how the Movement accomplished this, while emphasizing there is still a lot of space for

improvement. The Movement’s potential for building social capital, integration of migrants to

the U.S. culture and various processes that enabled or makes integration difficult were also

discussed. The humanitarian assistance programs the Movement engaged with locally Colorado

and worldwide were also mentioned along with how Muslim groups work to help the homeless

in Colorado. Various perspectives on interfaith and interracial relations were also mentioned

during the discussion.

Muslims, we have to critically review our understanding of Islam.

Words fall short to truly express my deep sadness and revolt in the face of the carnage perpetrated by terrorist groups such as the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
I share profound frustration with a billion-and-a-half Muslims around the world at the fact that such groups commit terrorism while dressing up their perverted ideologies as religion. We Muslims have a special responsibility to not only join hands with fellow human beings to save our world from the scourge of terrorism and violent extremism, but also to help repair the tarnished image of our faith.

It is easy to proclaim a certain identity in the abstract with words and symbols. The sincerity of such claims, however, can only be measured by comparing our actions with the core values of our self-proclaimed identities. The true test of belief is not slogans or dressing up in a certain way; the true test of our beliefs is in living up to core principles shared by all major world faiths such as upholding the sanctity of life and respecting the dignity of all humans.

We must categorically condemn the ideology propagated by terrorists and instead promote a pluralistic mindset with clarity and confidence. After all, before our ethnic, national or religious identity comes our common humanity, which suffers a setback each time a barbaric act is committed. French citizens who lost their lives in Paris, Shiite Muslim Lebanese citizens who lost their lives in Beirut a day earlier and scores of Sunni Muslims in Iraq who lost their lives at the hands of the same terrorists are first and foremost human beings. Our civilization will not progress until we treat the suffering of humans regardless of their religious or ethnic identity as equally tragic in our empathy and respond with the same determination.

Muslims must also reject and avoid conspiracy theories, which have so far only helped us avoid facing our social problems. Instead, we must tackle the real questions: Do our communities provide recruitment grounds for groups with totalitarian mindsets due to unrecognized authoritarianism within ourselves, domestic physical abuse, neglect of youth and lack of balanced education? Did our failure to establish basic human rights and freedoms, supremacy of the rule of law and pluralist mindsets in our communities lead those who are struggling to seek alternative paths?

The recent tragedy in Paris is yet another reminder for both theologians and ordinary Muslims to strongly reject and condemn barbaric acts perpetrated in the name of our religion. However, at this juncture, rejection and condemnation are not enough; terrorist recruitment within Muslim communities must be fought and countered by an effective collaboration of state authorities, religious leaders and civil society actors. We must organize community-wide efforts to address all factors that aid terrorist recruitment.

Ways of expressing support and dissent within democratic means

We need to work with our community to set up the necessary framework for identifying at-risk youth, preventing them from seeking self-destructive paths, assisting families with counseling and other support services. We must promote a proactive, positive government engagement so that engaged Muslim citizens can sit at the table where counterterrorism measures are planned and share their ideas. Our youth should be taught ways of expressing support and dissent within democratic means. Incorporating democratic values into school curricula early on is crucial for inculcating a culture of democracy in young minds.

In the aftermath of such tragedies, historically strong reactions have surfaced. Anti-Muslim and anti-religious sentiment as well as security-driven treatment of Muslim citizens by governments would be counter-productive. The Muslim citizens of Europe want to live in peace and tranquility. Despite the negative climate, they should strive to engage more with their local and national governments to help work toward more inclusive policies that better integrate their community into the larger society.

It is also important for us Muslims to critically review our understanding and practice of Islam in light of the conditions and requirements of our age and the clarifications provided by our collective historic experiences. This does not mean a rupture from the cumulative Islamic tradition but rather, an intelligent questioning so we can confirm the true teachings of the Quran and the Prophetic tradition that our Muslim predecessors attempted to reveal.

We must proactively marginalize decontextualized reading of our religious sources that have been employed in the service of perverted ideologies. Muslim thinkers and intellectuals should encourage a holistic approach and reconsider jurisprudential verdicts of the Middle Ages that were issued under perpetual conflict where religious affiliation often coincided with political affiliation. Having core beliefs should be distinguished from dogmatism. It is possible, indeed absolutely necessary, to revive the spirit of freedom of thought that gave birth to a renaissance of Islam while staying true to the ethos of the religion. Only in such an atmosphere can Muslims effectively combat incivility and violent extremism.

In the aftermath of the recent events I am witnessing, with chagrin, the revival of the thesis of the clash of civilizations. I do not know whether those who first put out such a hypothesis did so out of vision or desire. What is certain is that today, the revival of this rhetoric simply serves the recruitment efforts of the terrorist networks. I want to state clearly that what we are witnessing is not a clash of civilizations but rather the clash of humanity with barbarity in our common civilization.

Our responsibility as Muslim citizens is to be part of the solution despite our grievances. If we want to defend the life and civil liberties of Muslims around the world and the peace and tranquility of every human regardless of their faith, we must act now to tackle the violent extremism problem in all its dimensions: political, economic, social and religious. By setting virtuous examples through our lives, by discrediting and marginalizing the extremist interpretations of religious sources, by staying vigilant toward their impact on our youth, and by incorporating democratic values early in education, we can counter violence and terrorism as well as totalitarian ideologies that lead to them.

*This article by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen was first published in Le Monde on Dec. 17, 2015.
English Version: