Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Tanzania on January 22 to launch a three-nation East Africa tour to crack down against Fethullah Gulen. Erdogan is targeting an international network of charities and schools affiliated with a movement run by US-based Gulen.
Turkey’s involvement in Africa feeds into the Turkish ruling party’s “self-perception as the protector of Muslims and Muslim minorities around the world.” There is also the understanding that the existing Gulenist networks in the West are harder to take on because of Turkey’s capability limitations in the West, especially when it comes to influence and imagery problems.
Vietnam feels like an odd refuge for those who put their faith in one of Turkey’s most controversial political figures—a man who preaches peace, but has been accused of fomenting war. For Yildirim and others like him, however, it may prove the safest place in the world.
Zouhir Mohammed Kadour, the Director of the Mohammed Al-Fatih School, said, “We are shocked by the announcement of the Interior Ministry […] We’ve worked for the Al-Fatih School Group for 22 years. We followed the Moroccan curriculum, the Moroccan Ministry of Education program, and the school staff is Moroccan.”
At the heart of the matter is the question of Maa’rif’s credentials to take over the schools instead of its Pakistani management. Turkey is least known for its standard of education. Moreover, the Erdogan-backed organisation is neither experienced in the education field nor apolitical. The organisation is already scared with allegation of child sexually abuse in Turkey.
Amnesty South Asia Director Champa Patel: “With 24 million Pakistani children out of school, Pakistan’s decision to expel teachers from the Pak-Turk International Schools and Colleges will only hurt Pakistan’s children. What the country needs is more classrooms and more teachers, not a politically-motivated decision to purge educators at the behest of the Turkish government.”
Mohammed Aqeel, 24, who attended the Peshawar school and now teaches there, called the visa cancellations “a shameful event” that had compromised Pakistan’s independence and damaged its educational standards. “There is no foreign ideology here,” he said. “I love this school. It grooms us to be good human beings as well as students.”
The motive behind Maarif Foundation is to use it as a tool to pressurize African countries to transfer ownership of Hizmet movement linked schools to the Maarif Foundation since the request for the closure of these schools were turned down for lacking in merit.
What is the sense in advocating for the transfer of investments of private individuals to a government backed NGO? Is President Erdogan indirectly telling African leaders that his empire in Turkey extends to African countries hence the outrageous demand? From the preceding, it is clear that President Erdogan has little or no respect for African nations hence this anomaly. I also beg to state here that the politics of Turkey should be left in Turkey.
However, Vibor Handzic, head of the smaller Nasa Stranka party in the Sarajevo municipality of Stari Grad, said, “We must not accept the logic by which Erdogan’s regime can be both prosecutor and judge and may persecute people [in Bosnia] with no evidence,” Handzic said. Bosna Sema concedes that Gulen’s ideas inspired its founders but dismisses claims that it is linked to terrorism or to the failed coup.