There is no longer any doubt that Turkey conducts operations in the United States against Turks and Kurds with whom Erdogan disagrees. That problem will likely get worse as Erdogan digs in his heels and demands the extradition of exiled cleric Fethullah Gülen. While Turkish officials have turned over reams of papers detailing why Turkey believes Gülen is a malign influence, none of the evidence Turkey has provided actually implicates Gülen in the events of July 15.
A student at the Pak-Turk School in Lahore was perplexed at the abrupt deportation of all Turkish teachers at the request of the Turkish President Erdogan. “The Pak-Turk School changed my outlook in life. The teachers were more than simply teachers, they were mentors and helped students in all aspects of life,” this student exclaimed. “Why are they kicking out my teachers who have done so much for my country?” he wondered.
Surely nobody at the joint session really believed Mr Erdogan’s warning about the threat the so called Gullen Network presents Pakistan. No doubt the Turkish president really believes the Network – which ran schools here till just before his visit – is just as dangerous for Pakistan as al Qaeda, etc.
Around 400 Turks living in Pakistan have been ordered by the Pakistani government to leave in next three days. Isn’t it deplorable that the government has to do so only to bring a radiant smile on Erdogan’s face? Is Erdogan’s smile worth more than the tears of Pak-Turk students?
In sharp contrast to Boko Haram, there is a faith-inspired group, a civil society movement that engages in education, dialogue and charitable activities and has grown out of Muslim grass roots. Check out how disturbed Boko Haram is about Hizmet’s education campaign, which offers opportunities for both boys and girls. Check out how ISIL publications outline exactly how they hate the Hizmet movement’s efforts and why they see Hizmet as their “enemies.”
It appears Erdogan fears that if the judiciary begins trial for key political prisoners, the prisoners would have a venue at which to speak and raise questions Erdogan does not want addressed, especially with regard to the possibility that the events on the evening of July 15 were Turkey’s equivalent of the Reichstag fire.
Apart from establishing most successful educational institutions in Nigeria, the Hizmet Movement, which is also referred to as Gulen Movement, has been in the fore-front in propagating modern face of Islam, while at the same time building bridges of peace through interfaith dialogue.
In Pakistan, where more than 27 million children remain out of school, every teacher and educational institution matters. The Turkish non-governmental schools in question are ranked among the best in terms of in infrastructure, as well as quality of education and character-building.
Yet more than three years since the public feud between Erdoğan and Gülen began, the allegations against the Gülen movement of infiltrating the state, plotting coups, and proselytizing students through its schools still rest on speculation.
Rumors have circulated throughout Turkey that, under the guise of averting a prison riot, Erdogan might order his forces to fire on the prisons. It is not a scenario beyond the realm of possibility; after all, the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi did something similar, killing more than 1,000 political prisoners.
Turkish engagement with Southern Africa will not be without challenges. The success of this engagement will depend on the Turkish attitude towards the Hizmet Movement. If Turkey decides to tackle the Hizmet Movement head on as it has done in Turkey and in other countries, it will risk alienation in South Africa and the wider region. The Hizmet Movement is generally popular in Southern Africa, with long standing ties to civil society and the political elite.
Turkey’s alliances with the US and EU are fraying badly. Above all, Mr Erdogan is moulding the country in his own image, with only a uniform message allowed. As one liberal intellectual puts it: “In the past you got arrested for what you said, but now you can be arrested for what you don’t say.”
Gulen movement, which is inspired by the highly-respected United States based cleric, Fethullah Gulen, has been brazenly targeted for total destruction by President Erdogan after the failed coup in that country few months ago. The iron-hand President accused members and sympathisers of the movement as being behind the coup.
I’ve been writing about Turkey for more than a decade now. It’s a beautiful country, rich in history, and a complex society but, boy, in recent years their trolling has left a lot to be desired. It’s not just the internet trolls who have fallen far behind but also Turkish diplomats and even senior aides to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.