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.

“The thing that distinguishes the Hizmet Movement is that people are donating money, but they’re going themselves, also, and doing it, and devoting their lives to doing it. I suppose you can find some examples, historically, but it’s hard to think of an organized, that’s not the word, but a movement, of a large-scale movement like that.”

“If you say that you have the real religion and these people have never heard of it, or seen it, obviously there’s only one God, and that people find different ways to reach this worship of the one God. And it doesn’t mean that, by having an interfaith dialog, it doesn’t mean that you have to say, “well, yours is the true religion also, not just mine.” You can still maintain your religion, but understand that other people have other beliefs, and other points of view, which you should respect.”

“Most of the effort is still within Turkey. But there’s also an obligation that we all have to the rest of the world. And although this is not done with the intention of promoting a positive view of Turkey, I think it certainly does help. But it also promotes a different, more positive view of the religion of Islam, which is equally important. And I think in many ways, even more important, because Turkey does not really suffer from moral prejudice, but Islam as a religion does. And I think that’s the greater benefit for people, and I think for devout Muslims, I think they would, we would all see value in this kind of activity.”