Book Launch in Birmingham: European Muslims, Civility and Public Life: Perspectives on and From the Gülen Movement

Open to Everyone
Free to Attend

The Multi-Faith Centre, University of Derby Kedleston Road, DERBY, DE22 1GB

Prof Ian G. Williams

Senior Lecturer & Subject Leader, University of Central England

Prof Paul Weller

Universities of Coventry and Derby, and Regent’s Park College, University of Oxford

Paul Weller will provide an overview of key themes drawn from within the chapters of his new co-edited (together with Ihsan Yilmaz of Fatih University, Istanbul) book on European Muslims, Civility and Public Life: Perspectives on and From the Gülen Movement, that were written by a range of authors, including Professor Weller himself.

The book, overall, deals with the challenges and opportunities faced by Muslims and the wider society in Europe following the Madrid train bombings of 2004 and the London Transport attacks of 2005. Paul Weller’s talk will highlight how the book’s chapters explore the challenges to the concept and practice of civility in public life within a European context, together with the evidence presented and arguments made by the authors about how far the thought and practice of the global movement inspired by the Turkish Muslim scholar Fethullah Gülen can make a contribution in these matters.

Professor Weller’s overview of the book will touch on key perspectives from Fethullah Gülen on Muslim identity and public life in Europe; on civility, co-existence and integration; on the movement’s development in a variety of different European contexts, especially in the Netherlands, France, Germany and Northern Ireland, and on the movement’s role in challenging terrorism. He will also provide some insight into the position adopted by Fethullah Gülen in relation to Turkey’s possible future membership of the European Union.

Event Summary

The Birmingham Branch of the Dialogue Society was delighted to arrange the first of a series of launch events for a new book edited by Dialogue Society advisor Professor Paul Weller. The book comprises edited papers from a conference organised by the Dialogue Society in London in 2007. Professor Weller gave an overview of the book, entitled ‘European Muslims, Civility and Public Life: Perspectives on and From the Gülen Movement’. The book balances chapters by people within the movement of volunteers inspired by Fethullah Gülen with perspectives from outside. It explores the teachings which motivate the movement, the varied European contexts in which it operates and its practical and intellectual contributions. Dr Ian Williams of the Markfield Institute of Higher Education and Revd Canon David Wiseman offered their perspectives on the book and a diverse audience raised a range of interesting questions.

About Author

Paul Weller (Cert Ed, MA, MPhil, PhD, DLitt) is Professor of Inter-Religious Relations at the University of Derby and Head of Research and Commercial Development in its Faculty of Education, Health and Sciences; Visiting Fellow in the Oxford Centre for Christianity and Culture at Regent’s Park College, University of Oxford; and a Trustee of the Multi-Faith Centre at the University of Derby. His current research interests involve issues in the relationships between religion, state and society, and religion or belief, discrimination and equal opportunities, in relation to which he is heading up a national research project within the Religion and Society Research Programme on “Religion and Belief, Discrimination and Equality in England and Wales: Theory, Policy and Practice (2000-2010):” (see

His recent publications include:

  • Time for a Change: Reconfiguring Religion, State and Society ( London: T. & T. Clark, 2005)
  • Religious Diversity in the UK: Contours and Issues (London: Continuum, 2008)
  • A Mirror for our Times: ‘The Rushdie Affair and the Future of Multiculturalism (London: Continuum, 2009)
  • He has previously also published on “Fethullah Gülen, Religions, Globalisation and Dialogue”, in R. Hunt and Y. Aslandoğan (eds.), Muslim Citizens of the Globalized World: Contributions of the Gülen Movement (Somerset, NJ: The Light Inc. and IID Press, 2006).

About Speakers

Dr Ian G Williams is educated at the Universities of London, King’s College, Nottingham, and Derby Dr Williams has previously taught Religious and Islamic Studies at the universities of Chester, Derby, and Birmingham City University. His doctoral research focussed upon contemporary perceptions of ‘Ali ibn Abu Talib amongst Sunni and Twelver Shi’a traditions in the UK. He has published and given papers at international academic conferences on his current research into the work of a modern Turkish Religio-Social Movement with a global network of schools and universities, media, relief agency and inter-religious dialogue activities.

Currently, Dr Williams is completing a book entitled Ali ibn Abu Talib: A Study in Meanings and Semiotics in British Islam for publication in 2011. Recent publications and papers include amongst others: “Relics and Reliquaries: Signs and Semiotics in contemporary UK Islam.”, in Peter Collins & Elizabeth Arweck, eds Texts and Religious Contexts, London, Ashgate. 2006. “The Vision of Education within pluralistic societies in the thought of Fethullah Gulen: A study of contrasts between faith sector and non-denominational education in the UK, Turkey and the USA” in Yilmaz & Williams [ed’s] Peace and Coexistence. Leeds, Leeds Metropolitan University Press 2008. Alongside his research and writing, Dr Williams’ enthusiasms include inter-faith dialogue, theatre, choral music, hill walking, Turkish cuisine, and hazardous travel!

The Revd Canon David Wiseman has been ordained as a Priest in the Church of England for over 30 years with most of his ministry spent in urban and inner city parishes of the West Midlands and North-West of England where he was closely involved in inter-faith relations. He came to Northampton in 2003 as Social Responsibility Adviser for the Peterborough Diocese and since 2007 has been the Area Dean of the Deanery of Greater Northampton and Priest in Charge of Christ Church Northampton.

He has been Chair of Governors of a Church of England Aided School where the majority of pupils were Muslim and co-operated with the local Muslim communities in establishing a number of local initiatives. He has founded a number of organisations and local community projects and is Moderator of Churches Together in Northampton and Chair of the Northampton Inter Faith Forum and Faithworks Northampton.

The book will be made available for purchase at the event. Professor Paul Weller will be signing copies of his book following the event.