Amid a struggle to determine religion’s role in Azerbaijan, a controversial movement led by Turkish theologian Fetullah Gulen is attempting to establish itself as the face of moderate, politically acceptable Islam in Baku. There are several factors, however, that are limiting the Gulen movement’s ability to achieve its goal.
The Gulen movement, which is also known as Nurcular in Azerbaijan, is most widely known in the Caspian Basin state for its educational programs. When it began operating in Azerbaijan in the early 1990s, the movement received a warm welcome from the officials, who at that time preferred to emphasize ethnic politics grounded in common Turkic cultural connections above the dawaa, or Islamic missionary activities.
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Eldar Mamedov is a political adviser to the Socialists & Democrats Group in the European Parliament, who writes in his personal capacity.