Wrestling with Free Speech, Religious Freedom, and Democracy in Turkey: The Political Trials and Times of Fethullah Gülen


Chancellor Day Hall NCDH 202, 3644 rue Peel, Montreal, QC, H3A 1W9, CA

Dr. James Harrington will talk about how the political trial of Fethullah Gülen, a moderate Turkish religious leader, helped to expand civil liberties and strengthen democracy in Turkey. The trial began in 2000 in an Ankara State security court and ended in 2008 in an appeals court in Gülen's favor. His book explores Gülen's trial, examines the evolving process of Turkey's efforts to enter the European Union, and discusses ways that the EU's insistence on expanding civil liberties in Turkey and reforming the judicial system affected the outcome of the trial (and vice versa). As a coda, the book considers unsuccessful efforts to block Gülen's application for immigrant status in the United States as a religious scholar, which occurred during the same time as his political trial in Turkey. He will also talk about the Hizmet (Gulen) Movement, which originated in 1970s' Turkey as a faith-inspired initiative to improve educational opportunities for a local community; and which since then, has grown into a transnational educational, inter-cultural and interfaith movement.

RSVP at fkala [at] interculturaldialog.com

About the speaker

James C. Harrington, a human rights attorney with nearly four decades of experience, is founder and director of the Texas Civil Rights Project. He graduated from the School of Law at the University of Detroit, from where he also holds a Masters in philosophy. He has taught at the University of Texas School of Law as an adjunct professor for twenty-six years. Harrington has handled landmark civil rights cases, written and published widely, and served on human rights delegations in different areas of the world.

In 1990, Harrington founded the Texas Civil Rights Project, a statewide community-based, non-profit foundation that promotes social, racial, and economic justice and civil liberty, through litigation and public education, for low income and poor persons.

Harrington is author of Wrestling with Free Speech, Religious Freedom, and Democracy in Turkey: The Political Trials and Times of Fethullah Gülen, The Texas Bill of Rights: A Commentary and Litigation Manual, “¡Alto a la Impunidad! Is There Legal Relief for the Murders of Women in Ciudad Juárez?,” myriad law review articles, and a wide assortment of op-ed pieces and book reviews.

Harrington has served on human rights delegations to Honduras and Nicaragua (during the contra war), Chile (during Pinochet regime), Israel and Palestinian territories, Guatemala, and México (Chiapas), and visited Turkey as part of an interfaith group.

Organized by the McGill Centre for Human Rights & Legal Pluralism, and the Hans & Tamar Oppenheimer Chair in Public International Law, with the participation of the Intercultural Dialogue Institute Montreal (IDI Montreal). RSVP at fkala [at] interculturaldialog.com