The group/association/organization/party entitled "Nur Jamaat," particularly its membership, the names of its leaders, the location of its headquarters, date formed, and its activities; whether it is connected to Fethullah Gulen and/or Said Nursi; its connection to Fatih University in Istanbul [TUR38116.E]

No reference to the group/association/organization/party entitled "Nur Jamaat" could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

However, a professor of political science at the Middle East Center, the University of Utah, who has published extensively on the Nur Movement and Fethullah Gulen stated that, in his opinion, the expression is most likely being used to refer to the Nur movement founded by Said Nursi (14 Nov. 2001; ibid. 16 Nov. 2001). He further posited that in the context of this group the word "hareket" meaning movement would be used rather than the word "jamaat" indicating community; the latter word is only being "used in ignorance" and Nur followers would more comfortably employ the term "hareket" (ibid. 19 Nov. 2001). As well, a political analyst on Islam and former member of the American foreign service stated that, although the Arabic word "jamaat" might be used, the more appropriate word would be "hareket" (19 Nov. 2001).

A September 1998 article published in The Middle East Quarterly reported that "Nursi and his followers, the Risale-i-Nur movement, spread throughout Turkey after 1950, despite the state's efforts to stop their activities." The article also notes that the movement particularly appealed to the young and to those who had received a secular education (ibid.).

According to the professor of political science, the Nur movement is a pro-democracy, pro-modernity and a pro-western faith (not Islamist) movement; it never supported the pro-Islamic party of Necmettin Erbakan and has always criticized political Islam (ibid.). The political analyst stated that the Nur movement is distinctly non-political, having no political party or national organizational body (19 Nov. 2001). The political analyst further stated that, in its approximately 50-year history, there has never been any violence associated with the movement and that it has never been implicated in any sort of terrorist activity (ibid.).

Fethullah Gulen is described in a Middle East Quarterly article as a "moderate Islamic spiritual leader" (Sept. 1998). When Nursi's movement fragmented in the 1980s, Fethullah Gulen formed his own "neo-Nur" movement (Professor of political science 14 Nov. 2001), with the main goal of furthering the understanding and appreciation of Islam by Muslims (Political analyst 19 Nov. 2001). It stresses the importance of education, seeing no contradiction between science and religion, and in fact views educational attainment as one element in being a "good" Mulsim (ibid.). The professor of political science further describes Gulen's movement as pro-state and Turkish nationalist (ibid.).

Also referred to as the Nur brotherhood (Western Policy Center Oct. 2000), and Fethullahcilar (ÇGD Jan 2001), this movement is reportedly considered a moderate Islamic group (Western Policy Center Oct. 2000) which opposes political Islam (ÇGD Jan 2001). Gulen is reported to be the movement's sole leader, although a hierarchy of long-time followers runs the movement (The Middle East Quarterly Sept. 1998). The movement draws much of its support from young urban men, appealing particularly to professionals such as doctors and academics (ibid.).

For further information on Said Nursi's movement, including Fethullah Gulen's connection to it, please refer to TUR34175.E of 10 April 2000.

According to various reports, including a regional report produced by the Western Policy Institute, a public policy corporation based in Washington D.C. which promotes American "geostrategic" interests in south-eastern Europe (Western Policy Center n.d.), the movement owns a large number of organizations in several fields, including media and education (Western Policy Center October 2000; ÇGD Jan 2001). It owns the Islamic daily newspaper Zaman, the Samanyolu television channel (ibid.), and the Burc FM radio station (Middle East Quarterly Sept. 1998).

As well as reportedly owning a bank (Western Policy Centre October 2000), the group also runs and owns about a hundred schools in Turkey (Middle East Quarterly Sept. 1998). According to one report "the schools are under tight state control and use the same curriculum as do Turkish state schools, only with an added emphasis on conservative values such as good manners and respect for elders" (ibid.). The religious instruction taught at the schools is reportedly approved by the Turkish government (Western Policy Center Oct. 2000). The movement has also founded more than 200 schools around the world, mostly in the Turkic republics of the former Soviet Union (Political analyst 19 Nov. 2001). These schools have been recognized by the Turkish Foreign Ministry as the best representative institutions of Turkish interests abroad (ibid.).

According to the professor of political science, although the military is "uneasy" with Gulen, the movement is allowed to carry-out their activities and is not "persecuted" (14 Nov. 2001). In fact, Gulen's group is afforded some protection by the current prime minister, Bulent Ecevit, and other members of the coalition government (ibid.).

According to the Western Policy Center, Ecevit has praised the schools as "a contribution to the promotion of Turkey abroad" (Oct. 2000). The report also notes, however, that 11 of the 46 officers purged from the military in September 2000 were Gulen followers and that the Chief of the General Staff General Kivrikoglu has stated that it was unacceptable to treat Gulen with respect, criticizing the court's decision to drop the case against Gulen and charging the movement's followers with "infiltrating" state institutions for the purpose of an eventual "Islamist takeoever" (ibid.).

According to the political analyst, there is a certain hard core secularist segment within Turkish society, particularly within the military, which is very opposed to any form of religious expression within Turkey (19 Nov. 2001). For example, the wearing of headscarves in schools or while working in government institutions has been forbidden (ibid.). The Fethullah Gulen movement, perhaps the largest movement of any kind in Turkey, is viewed by the military as a threat to society and to the secular constitution (ibid.). Its members have been rigorously excluded from the military, security agencies and government (ibid.). However, the movement has not been banned in Turkey and its followers continue to promote a better understanding of the movement (ibid.).

For further information on Turkish charges against Fethullah Gulen, please refer to TUR35394.E of 29 September 2000.

For further information on the treatment of followers of Fethullah Gulen please refer to TUR37763.E of 11 September 2001and TUR37826.E of 19 September 2001

Fatih University was founded and is funded by the Fethullah Gulen movement as part of its broader educational network (Professor of political science 16 Nov. 2001; Political analyst 19 Nov. 2001). The professor explained that the university has a certain identity based on its association with this movement; an identity similar to that of such American Catholic universities as Notre Dame (ibid.). According to the political analyst, the university is a private institution, teaching a full range of subjects such as science and technology and including religion (19 Nov. 2001). Its funders are mostly wealthy industrialists who believe religion should have a "dignified" place within Turkish society (ibid.).

For further information on Fethullah Gulen's connection to Fatih University, please refer to TUR37577.E of 12 September 2001.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


The Middle East Quarterly [Philadelphia]. September 1998. Bülent Aras. "Turkish Islam's Moderate Face." [Accessed 16 Nov. 2001]

Political Analyst and former member of the American foreign service. Maryland. 19 November 2001. Telephone interview.

Professor of Political Science. University of Utah, Salt Lake City. 19 November 2001. Follow-up telephone interview. The professor is presently a visiting fellow at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame and is in the process of completing a book on the Nur movement of Turkey.

_____. 16 November 2001. Follow-up telephone interview.

_____. 14 November 2001. Correspondence.

Progressive Journalists Association (ÇGD). January 2000. Dr. L. Dogan "Media Ownership Structure in Turkey." [Accessed 16 Nov. 2001]

Western Policy Centre. October 2000. Vol. 5. No. 7. "Political, Military Leaders in Dispute Over Religious Leader." [Accessed 16 Nov. 2001]

_____. n.d. "About the Western Policy Center." [Accessed 19 Nov. 2001]

Additional Sources Consulted

Current History

IRB databases


The Middle East

Middle East Report

The Muslim World

Oral Sources:

Unsuccessful attempts to contact one oral source

Internet sites including:

Amnesty International



International Coalition of Religious Freedom

International Relations and Security Network

Radio Free Europe

UN News

World News Connection

Search engines:


Note: This list is not exhaustive. Country or region-specific publications available at the Resource Centre are not included.