Turkey’s relations with African countries have been strained following demands by the Turkish government to close Gulenist schools in Sudan, Nigeria, and Somalia. After the attempted coup in Turkey on July 15, which the Turkish government has accused Gulen of masterminding, Turkey’s ambassador to Nigeria called for 17 Gulenist schools in the country to be closed.
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Sola Enikanolaye, has said that the Nigerian students who were arrested in Turkey for an alleged role in the July coup attempt in Turkey may have been paying for the refusal of the Nigerian government to shut down some Turkish schools and institutions in Nigeria.
Nigerian students in Turkey are in hiding following the government’s crackdown on them. “We are scared of leaving our rooms for fear of being arrested and charged with terrorism, or deported. Most of us are in our final year. What do we do?” students said.
The Turkish government is in a drive to deport all Nigerian students at universities linked to Fethullah Gulen’s Hizmet movement. Gulen is an Islamic cleric whom President Erdogan of Turkey considers as his strongest rival. After the botched July 15 coup, Erdogan launched a massive crackdown on the investments of Gulen’s followers. He blamed Gulen for the coup, but he has denied the allegation.
When Behlul Basaran arrived Nigeria in 2000 from Turkey, he was armed with a single piece of luggage, an enthusiastic spirit and hope. Inside his luggage was his letter of scholarship for a university education from the Hizmet Movement, which had started building a relationship and foundation for quality education with Nigeria.
Turkish President Erdogan on Tuesday called on world leaders to fight against US based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gulen over what he (Erdogan) described as an act of terrorism orchestrated by Gulen against Turkey. Addressing Presidents and Prime Ministers of civilised regimes of the world at the 68th UN General Assembly, Erdogan demonstrated before his colleagues very high level of incapacitation and inability to stick to simple ratified conventions to which Turkey is signatory.
On a recent trip to Spain, I picked a copy of the International New York Times, and saw a story that shocked me greatly. It said Mr Erdogan had ordered the release of 38,000 prisoners serving various jail terms, for different offences, in order to make space for the so-called coup plotters who had no space in Turkey’s overflowing prison. I was totally shocked by the news because I can’t imagine a situation where convicted criminals are being set free just so political opponents can be locked up.
The Turkish schools were recently steeped in controversy after the Turkish government linked to being part of activities of self-exiled clergy Fethullah Gulen whose global network is accused by the Ankara government for fomenting terrorism, and money laundering.
Fethulah Gulen did not fall from the sky or moon, he has a history that is in the public domain, the question is why did it take Erdogan too long to realize that Gulen is a terrorist? All through the years of robust relationship between Fethulah and Erdogan there was no accusation that Gulen was a terrorist, why now?
As part of their Hunger Relief program, Embrace Relief administers qurban organizations all over the world to bring joy to the table of people in need, while helping Muslims take care of their religious obligations. In 2015, qurban donations have been distributed amongst countries such as Bangladesh, Haiti, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Madagascar, Mexico, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, and the United States. This year, qurban donations will be distributed to those in need in the United States, Latin America, Africa, and Asia.
In the late evening of Friday, July 15, word spread across the world that a coup was under way in Turkey. The president was missing, the military announced it had taken control of the country, and a few hours later, in the early hours Saturday morning, the coup was over.
Abdallah Kheri, who in Kenya heads the Islamic Research and Education Trust, worries that shuttering Gulen schools and other institutions could leave a vacuum that the so-called Islamic State will seek to fill. “Closing down the institutions would definitely grant gains to the fundamentalists,” he said. In Kenya, the Rev. Wilybard Lagho, Mombasa Roman Catholic diocese vicar general, said he would lament the demise of Gulen schools.
In the end, when analysing this most recent coup attempt, and judging the Hizmet movement or Fethullah Gulen’s involvement comes down to the simple fact that Hizmet activity revolves around education, charity and dialogue, and underpinning all of its work are love, compassion, equality and positive engagement. Essentially, this is epitomised in the fact that the turkish word ‘Hizmet’ literally means ‘service’.