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’.
The Turkish president actually requested 170 countries where the schools are established and run for the same favour, but while only two, including Somalia, obliged on the grounds of their indebtedness to Turkey, the other countries have either refused or are undecided as they asked for proof of Erdogan’s claim.
Tanzania has dismissed an allegation by Turkey that the Feza schools in the country are being used to radicalise the youth and fund opposition against the Ankara government. Stung by a failed coup last month, Turkey has targeted businesses associated with Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim Cleric it wants extradited from the US to face charges in Ankara of plotting the coup and funding terrorism activities.
Several African states have rejected Turkey’s request to close schools run by the Hizmet movement. Turkish President Erdogan accused Fethullah Gulen, who owns Hizmet, of involvement in the failed July 15 coup. When Turkish President Erdogan visited Uganda and Kenya in May, he sought to stamp out the influence of the Islamic cleric Gulen. He accused the preacher of using his connections to try to overthrow him, allegations which Gulen denied.
President Erdogan has also asked the Government of Nigeria to close down all Turkish schools in Nigeria allegedly because Fetullah Gulen was the main architect of the failed coup in Turkey. Is this request in Nigeria’s national interest? In which way is the Turkish failed coup likely to impact on Nigeria’s national security? How important is Nigeria-Turkish relations in the country’s overall global relations?