David Newton is a retired diplomat. He served as ambassador to Yemen (1994-97) and Iraq (1984-88). He holds M.A. in Islamic History and Arabic Literature at University of Michigan. His countries of expertise: Iraq, Yemen, Syria and Lebanon and issues of expertise political dynamics, democracy, history, and religion.

“It seems to me, particularly in the Arab world, there’s a great need for a modern, progressive, pro-education view of Islam, to get the Arab world out of its troubles. So that to me, they need something very much like the Hizmet Movement, and a person like Mr. Gülen, like the Hocaefendi, who brings science, education, but above all, preaches tolerance.”

“It’s striking with Hocaefendi that he is a very modest man, that he does not make himself the center of the Movement. I believe he doesn’t like to hear it called the Gülen Movement. He would much rather have it referred to as the Service Movement in English. He wants his ideas to be the center of the Movement, but not himself.”

“The difference in these schools is the tolerance. And the high standard, the high ethical standard that they emphasize for the students. It’s really a remarkable combination. And of course, also that this educational movement is not focused on the elite. It’s focused on very ordinary, and often on people who are disadvantaged.”