Dr. Chris Brown is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Carleton University. He specializes in the politics of Africa. He is working on a book on the institutionalization of liberal democracy in Botswana. He is currently the Program Director for Carleton University’s Bachelor of Global and International Studies.

“I think that, in a certain sense, you know, Canadians need more Hizmet. Right? Because in a certain sense, what I found so valuable about going to Turkey and learning more about Hizmet Movement was to reinforce what I knew anyway. But to reinforce the idea that Islam is not these people, it’s not people who have bombs, and want to kill and shoot. But Islam, indeed, is so much bigger, and so much broader, and so much more diverse, and has so much more tendencies and trends within it, most of which are not about bombing and shooting and killing.”

“Hizmet doesn’t have a single, centralized organizational structure. There’s Mr. Gülen and his ideas, but he has refused to become, if you will, the CEO, or the president of the company. And so he’s propagating his ideas, and it’s much more what we call a movement than a civil society organization. The sense that, here’s a set of ideas, here’s a set of organizing principles, but then it’s up to people who are attracted by these ideas, in their own sphere of life, in their own area, to then create organizations and so on. Following in those ideas, but not tied in any direct way to a central organization. This is quite unusual. It gives it strength, in the sense that the Movement, I think, is much less susceptible to external attack.”

“So, we had the good fortune to go and visit Kimse Yok Mu, the headquarters in Istanbul, and again, very impressive. This is relatively new.[…] And I gather that in a very short period of time, it’s become the single largest charity in Turkey, is that correct? It certainly is very big. In terms of the fundraising capacity, I was very impressed. There’s very few Canadian NGOs in the development sector, including ones that have been around for many years, that are capable of raising so much money.”

“[However] there’s lots of other things that we’ve started to learn over the years about how the foreign aid business is actually very complicated and difficult, and good intentions can result in bad outcomes. And I have a little bit of a feeling that Kimse Yok Mu is at the beginning of that cycle. That they’re still at this point of very good intentions, very impressive fundraising capability, deep commitment and ideals, but not yet, necessarily, a deep enough analysis of the relationship between foreign aid and development.”