The Foundation of the Islamic Community in Europe “Millî Görüş” is described as the largest Islamic society on the continent, and the socio-religious movement – which represents Turkish communities abroad – is inspired by the ideas of its founder Professor Necmettin Erbakan (1926-2011), who became Prime Minister in Turkey It is active in the countries of the European continent in addition to other countries such as Australia, Canada and the United States.
As civil organizations in Europe face various political pressures in light of the rise of the policies of the European Right; The Milli Gourouch Foundation has become in the eye of the storm and the heart of the debate, especially in countries such as France, against the backdrop of its insistence not to sign the Charter of Islamic Principles prepared by the government and bearing the name “Charter of Principles of French Islam”, in its current form, unless amendments are made to it.
In the interview, which dealt with intellectual and legal issues affecting the lives of Islamic societies in European countries; Şefci emphasized that the Foundation works within the context of European laws and constitutions, and that it does not practice politics, considering that the movement is primarily social and represents an effective framework for women and youth in the European continent.
- First of all, we want to get acquainted with the thought of the institution of the Islamic community in Europe, through you, what is your thought and what is your activity in Europe?
We are a non-governmental organization that was established after the migration of Muslim communities from the East to the West, which is developed industrially and civilly. Why did Muslims leave behind and millions of people migrated from East to West? These are the questions we should care about; So far, Muslim countries have not been able to cover the distance between the West and the East, and there are problems of education, welfare and economic organization, and there is a lack of realization of concepts of justice and violations of human rights.
But these immigrants also carried with them loneliness and alienation from their own cultures and beliefs after they left their original societies from which they immigrated, and during this migration to the West a voice rose from Turkey calling “First morals and spirit.” So let us build a new developed Turkey, and the distance between East and West should be bridged. .
In this context, the late professor Necmettin Erbakan called this spirit “Mili Ghoresh,” meaning “the thought of the nation.” Muslims were feeling frustrated at that stage, and the economy and industry were being brought in from abroad; That is why immigrants migrated to the West.
At that time, Erbakan said that there should be a concept stemming from our history, our religion and our nation, and the word “milli” for us is not a national one, and he wanted to achieve the level of development and prosperity in the West with our new spirit and values, because it absorbed the revelation and message of the Qur’an, and its commands with diligence, consideration, consideration, reflection and sanity.
Immigrants immigrated to the West and saw development, development, prosperity, freedom and peace in the societies to which they immigrated, and they began comparing the two worlds. Erbakan used the expression “ethics and spirituality first”; To express that longing that the immigrants felt, and hoped to return to their countries of origin as well.
Erbakan received his doctorate from the University of Aachen, Germany, and was a distinguished engineer who understood the developments of the West in depth, mastered German fluently, understood the West from within, and guided immigrants in a stage where they had no clues, and some of them lived without identity or personality.
On the other hand, Erbakan formed the government and took care of immigrant communities abroad and their problems, but we also – as Muslim societies in the West – say that everyone is taken from his words and answered, and we do not necessarily adopt all the ideas of the late professor.
- Do you consider yourselves Turks in the West or Western citizens of Turkish origin?
We preserve our culture, our heritage, and our tongues; Bosnian, Arabic and so on, not only Turkish, but we feel like Western locals as well.
- You mean that you are not only a Turkish immigrant community?
We are a movement for the nation, and in some of our mosques the administration and the worshipers are all Arabs, and in some areas 70 or 80% maybe from different countries like Somalia with a minority of Turks for example, because we believe and work in the arena in the spirit of the nation.
many areas in Australia and Canada; You see in our institutions and mosques the Arabs in particular, and some Muslims from Africa, Pakistan and Bangladesh who do not have mosques. We dedicate some days to them to practice their activities, where they practice their educational and upbringing activities and educate their children with their families and families, in their own languages.
- But you do not practice politics in Europe?
We are a (non-governmental) civil society association, we have high hopes from politicians, but we are not a political movement.
- Some transformations in the West impose a preoccupation with politics, especially with the rise of the policies of the new right. What do you think?
We do not need this because in the Western world we accept the constitutional system, the rule of law and the system of justice, and we respect that system that is based on rights and the separation of powers, and there is equality as individuals in society; All people are equal before rights.
For this reason, Muslims do not need an “independent” political exercise under another umbrella from the system of rights and justice in force; The legal and legal system in the West is the guarantee of Muslims.
The West, since 1600, introduced the parliamentary system, but the system of distributing powers and powers at that stage was sometimes usurped to commit major crimes against society, as Hitler did; For this reason, the West came to the conviction that the creation of parliaments is not enough, but rather a system of distribution of powers must be implemented. Where politicians are assigned procedures, and do not interfere in the enactment of the law and are bound by it, and civil work is energized independently as well; A word issued by the President of the Republic is not considered a law.
- And in France in particular, what is going on?
We have to look at the past in order to see the future. We have to remember the events of September 11, 2001. After this stage, the West considered violence and extremism to be linked to Muslims, and also organizations such as “Al-Qaeda”, “Boko Haram”, “ISIS” and “Abu Sayyaf” came. “Young people” committed crimes.
These ISIS committed crimes and felonies, and killed Christians in Arab countries, such as Syria and Libya; Fear and anxiety arose in the world of the West, and terrorist acts were committed in Austria, France and Europe. Westerners felt that danger lived side by side with them, and that dangers approached them.
Meanwhile, the extreme right took advantage of the situation to intimidate society and adopt policies of fear of Muslims, and they actually managed to do so. This is a very cheap policy to accuse others of unfairly in order to win an election.
With this rise in fears and anxieties of Western societies; Those governments reacted, as in France.
But these policies are wrong, incorrect and not based on facts; Because extremism and terrorism are not represented by any religion, creed or society. Therefore, extremism and terrorism are not important where they come from, as they are the enemy of humanity.
Everyone must unite against terrorism, and Islam has not in history commanded extremism and terrorism; The one who looks at the centuries of Islamic rule will realize how people live side by side and peace and coexistence spread.
Only in the Islamic world did society live side by side, with different societies, sects and beliefs; This is evidence of the application of “there is no compulsion in religion” and a commitment to tolerance and respect for other beliefs.
For 60 years, no member of our organization has engaged in any act of violence or extremism, and for more than half a century, none of our members has been involved in a court case related to this.
We believe in and respect the constitution and the law and are aware of our responsibility to the nations in which we live. We are mostly citizens of these countries; Therefore, the extreme right is not based on principles, logic, or facts that constitute evidence of fear of Muslims.
The politics of the Western right only wants to win electoral votes with these false accusations of Muslims.
- You say you don’t practice politics, so why do politicians attack you?
Because in the last elections, the French far-right candidate won 34% of the parliament’s percentage, and in France’s statistics now they see that she will be equal in votes with President Emmanuel Macron.
- So the reason is simply the elections?
Yes, what is happening is related to the elections, which is a concern for many, and politicians know the facts and do not believe in these fallacies.
- What about the representation of women, youth and students in your movement?
Milli Gourouch is primarily a youth movement; Since its establishment, it has had messages to young people. Women in Turkey first appeared in the political arena during the Milli Görüş period.
In Europe, women’s and kinetic activities began in Milli Gorush, then spread, and we care about women’s activities in particular, and in all our mosques in Europe they have a special place and a place to rest inside the mosque, and places for social events and meetings, and this is developing well so far.
Until we reach this stage as “Mili Gourouch”; We did many things and activities, mainly stemming from the interests of women and youth.
We have an independent organization for youth and a full women’s organization with an independent administration. For example, in Germany there are 16 regions, and each region has an independent youth and women’s organization, and in every mosque there is a men’s department, a women’s department, a youth department, a young women’s department, and a department we call “stars” (ages between 12 and 16), meaning 5 departments In every mosque, district and public center.
We are particularly interested in educational activities, and we start two and a half years ago from the ages of our children until the end of the university stage until they complete their studies at the university. We are with them in the framework of the institution.
For this reason, our movement is full of vitality, and our mosques are full of groups and young people, and in Ramadan, for example, our mosques are full of events, group breakfasts, group suhoor, group prayer, and episodes of the Qur’an.
- For non-Muslims in Europe, do you have social activities directed at them?
We have charitable activities in Asia and Africa and at the same time we support the needy and the poor in the West as well, and we distribute hot soup to those who live in the streets of the West, and we conduct campaigns for people with humanitarian needs and we believe in the commandment of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, who used to give the poor, whatever his religion.
- They say in Europe, you have a parallel education and a parallel society, how do you explain that?
There is a general framework of freedom of worship, education and expression, guaranteed in the constitutions of the West, and all our activities are within the framework of these rights, laws and constitutions in force, and these false accusations – made by far-right politicians – are not based on facts because the law gives us the opportunity to establish our civil activities.
We, like other citizens before the law, have all their rights, and we have the same duties.
- What about the cooperation of Arab and Turkish societies in Europe?
Sometimes we cooperate and succeed and sometimes we fail, but every society has its priorities according to different backgrounds.
In fact, there are foundations on which we do not disagree. We work together with Muslims who respect constitutions and the law. We only have a distance from those who indulge in violence and extremism.
- You assert that you are a guarantee of moderation in Europe. Why do Western governments not treat you as an ally in this context?
The West shares the same (homogeneous) culture and beliefs and Muslims only recently immigrated 60 years ago, and this is normal, they may hesitate to accept Muslims, but that is temporary, and they will get used to.
Bismarck boarded the train and sent the monks to the Vatican, and it will take time for Muslims to be assimilated in Europe and recognized as part of the West, and for them to accept Muslim values.
In the last century, the Jews lived the same experience, and what is currently taking place is a stage of initial acceptance that will culminate in more understanding.
- So, why did you refuse to sign the charter of secularism in France?
This document we were consulting about, and we saw some of these passages in the charter that we do not need; We respect laws and constitutions and live on this basis, but some of them want to show us that we do not respect constitutions and the law, and this charter is against constitutions.
We are open to all opinions and suggestions with others and we did not leave a table during the discussions that we did not occupy, but 4 independent NGOs agreed among themselves on this charter and signed it and wanted to force the rest to sign it. They insisted on us and we declared that between civil societies there must be democracy and dialogue; Therefore, we reserve that the charter be in this way.
We told them it is possible to disagree with you and sit at one table discussing its content together, and no response was issued from us, and only 4 civil institutions left the table and agreed among themselves and published the charter among themselves, and spoke as if we had left the table and refused dialogue and discussion, but this is not true.
They came with the charter ready and said we must sign, and we did not accept that. We did not decide together until we sign, we are worried that we will remain silent on this mistake, so in the future they may decide against us without any knowledge
- As for the Ayoub Mosque in Strasbourg, how is the project going now?
There is no problem with the project, this is the project of the municipality of Strasbourg that has been supported by the various religious groups, the municipality, the governor and the municipal council, and this project is not only for Muslims; Rather, it is considered part of the heritage of the French cultural heritage, and it is the French society that builds this cultural heritage.
This mosque represents Muslims in France, and at the same time a landmark of tolerance and coexistence in Europe, and also a landmark of the culture of coexistence, and this project is more than the mosque project, and includes a complex with a library, halls, a school, etc.