Wrestling with Free Speech, Religious Freedom and Democracy in Turkey
The Atlantic Institute hosted former professor and human rights lawyer Jim Harrington at the Istanbul Cultural Center on Tuesday, October 28th. Mr. Harrington gave a lecture based on his publication: Wrestling with Free Speech, Religious Freedom and Democracy in Turkey: The Political Trials and Times of Fethullah Gulen.
He began with first examining the Gulen Movement, the essence of Mr. Fethullah Gulen's teachings, and the financial and educational benefits that hizmet (Turkish for service) has provided for numerous communities. Mr. Harrington emphasized that Gulen was not one to push Islam into the political arena, but his intentions have been to emphasize education and serving the public.
Following the discussion, Mr. Harrington took the time to sign his books for guests and answer questions. The event appropriately concluded with delicious traditional Turkish cuisine and cay (Turkish tea).
More about the author:
"James (Jim) Harrington is a human rights attorney with nearly four decades of experience and is the founder and director of the Texas Civil Rights Project. He graduated from the School of Law at the University of Detroit, from where he also holds a Masters in philosophy. He has taught at the University of Texas School of Law as an adjunct professor for twenty-six years. Harrington has handled landmark civil rights cases, written and published widely, and served on human rights delegations including Honduras and Nicaragua (during the contra war), Chile (during Pinochet regime), Israel and Palestinian territories, Guatemala, and México (Chiapas), and visited Turkey as part of an interfaith group."
His other publications include The Texas Bill of Rights: A Commentary and Litigation Manual, ¡Alto a la Impunidad! Is There Legal Relief for the Murders of Women in Ciudad Juárez?, myriad law review articles, and a wide assortment of op-ed pieces and book reviews.
About the book:
The political trial of Fethullah Gülen, a moderate Turkish religious leader, helped to greatly expand civil liberties and strengthen democracy in Turkey. The trial began in 2000 in an Ankara state security court (now disbanded) and ended in 2008 in an appeals court in Gülen's favor. This book explores Gülen's trial, examines the evolving process of Turkey's efforts to enter the European Union, and discusses ways that the EU's insistence on expanding civil liberties in Turkey and reforming the judicial system affected the outcome of the trial (and vice versa). As a coda, the book considers unsuccessful efforts to block Gülen's application for immigrant status in the United States as a religious scholar, which occurred during the same time as his political trial in Turkey.