Dr. Peter Bechtold is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at Portland State University. He has taught courses in Politics, Religion, History, Economics, Islam, and Middle East. He received Ph.D. & M.A. from Princeton University. Dr.Bechtold’s field research includes 25 Middle East countries, from Egypt to Israel to Iraq to Kazakhstan to the Gulf. He is fluent in Arabic, German, and French.
“I had visited Turkey before, as part of my work as a young scholar, and then as Director in our Diplomatic Academy, I was visiting our diplomats in these cities, but the Hizmet Movement opened a completely different door. The people we met, the private citizens were enormously friendly and warm, hospitable, and the government officials who we met were also very, very nice. And it was a very positive experience.
“My views about Mr. Fethullah Gülen Hodja are extremely warm and positive. It’s difficult to think of the best adjective, because in addition to meeting so many of the followers of the group, I had the extraordinary privilege to meet him in person. […] I, myself, had met leaders of Islamic movements in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan, and Kazakhstan, and I was making comparisons between them and Fethullah Gülen Hodja, and he is, to my mind, the most kind of them all. The most tolerant towards different people with different backgrounds, even though the others I had very positive experiences with, but he stands out to me as number one.”
My own personal view of Hizmet is very positive. I think we need more organizations like Hizmet, not less. I do not believe that they’re using this in order to trick people into becoming a rival movement. I don’t believe that. I think that the generosity, the charitable works, are genuine. That is my feeling.