The Lost Opportunity Window of the Gülen Movement in Turkey

  • Lucie Tungul Faculty of Law, Palacký University in Olomouc
Keywords: Gülen movement, AKP, Turkey, social movement, opportunity window


The Gülen movement is one of the most controversial political and economic forces in Turkey, whose impact on the failed Turkish democratization in the 2000s and the rise of Recep Tayyip Erdogan to power is yet to be fully evaluated. The paper argues that the decision to stay out of active politics caused by the history of the Gülen movement as a grassroots movement, which wanted to protect its strategic interests mixing Islam with Turkish nationalism in Turkey and abroad led to the decision to support the AKP instead to establish a political party. This brought the movement substantial power and influence on the political system of the country but the failed democratisation of Turkey that remains a hybrid regime made the movement very vulnerable to the changes in the political power structure, which led to its demise. The attempt to counter the hegemony of the new political elite in the hybrid environment of Turkey failed because the movement could not claim the democratic accountability through elections as the AKP did. The movement represents an example of a new social movements, which missed the opportunity window of a favourable political moment, which will require its significant retransformation in the future.


Anadolu Agency. (2016). Fetullah Gulen's broad Western Balkans network. [online]. Available at [Ac-cessed 17 June 2017].
Ashdown, N. (2018). Loathed, hunted down, Gülen Movement finished in Turkey. In: Ahval News. [online]. Available at: [Accessed 24 March 2018].
Aras, B., and O. Caha. (2000). Fethullah Gulen and his Liberal “Turkish Islam” Movement. In: MERIA. [online], 4,4.
Atasoy, Y. (2009). Islam’s Marriage with Neoliberalism: State Transformation in Turkey. Hamp-shire, Palgrave.
Balci, B. (2003). Fethullah Gu¨len's Missionary Schools in Central Asia and their Role in the Spreading of Turkism and Islam. In: Religion, State, and Society, 31, 2, 151-177.
Beauchamp, S. (2014). 120 American Charter Schools and One Secretive Turkish Cleric. In: Atlan-tic. [online]. Available at [Accessed 20 July 2016].
Gülen, F. (n.d.). Towards the Lost Paradise. The Awaited Generation. In: Love and Tolerance. Available at: [Accessed 24 August 2017].
Gurcan, M. (2016). Why It's So Difficult To Decipher the Gulenist Network. In: New Age Islam's Selection. [online]. Available at [Accessed 4 June 2017].
Human Rights Watch. (2001). [online]. Available at [Accessed 17 May 2017].
Jager, J. (2016). Understanding the Gülen Movement. In: Small Wars Journal. Available at:ülen%20Movement.pdf [Accessed 4 June 2017].
Kirdis, E. (2016). Same context, different political paths: Two Islamic movements in Turkey. In: International Area Studies Review, 19, 3, 249-265.
Koru, S., and H. R. Yilmaz. (2016). Fethullah Gulen’s Race to the Top Is Over. In: Foreign Policy. 5 August. Foreign Policy. [online]. Available at: [Accessed 6 May 2017].
Mizell, A. (2012). Kemalism replaced by Gülenism in Turkey. In: The Kurdistan Tribune. [online]. Available at [Accessed 4 June 2017].
Muzalevsky, R. (2009). Fethullah Gulen’s Movement in Central Asia: A Blessing or a Curse? In: The Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst. [online]. Available at [Accessed 30 August 2016].
Nereid, C. (1997). In the Light of Said Nursi: Turkish Nationalism and the Religious Alternative. C Hurst.
Onsoy, M., and S. Udum. (2015). The role of Turkey in western Balkan energy security. In: Asia Europe Journal. [online] 13, 175-192.
Sharon-Krespin, R. (2009). Fethullah Gülen's Grand Ambition. Turkey’s Islamist Danger. In: Mid-dle East Quarterly. [online], 16, 1, 55-66.
Tarrow, S.G. (1998). Power in Movement: Social Movements and Contentious Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Tilly, C., and L. J. Wood (2009). Social Movements: 1768-2008. Oxon: Paradigm Publishers, 2009.
Yavuz, M.H., and R. Koç (2016). The Turkish Coup Attempt: The Gülen Movement vs. the State. In: Middle East Policy Council. [online] 23, 4.
Zuesse, E. (2016). What Was Behind the Turkish Coup-Attempt? In: Strategic Culture Foundation. [online]. Available at [Accessed 30 August 2016].
How to Cite
Tungul, L. (2018, October 15). The Lost Opportunity Window of the Gülen Movement in Turkey. Slovak Journal of Political Sciences, 18(2). Retrieved from