While critics say that Gülen is at best a cult figure, he is considered by many the legitimate spiritual leader of an Islamic movement that is focused on humanitarian service – hence the common name Hizmet – as well as interfaith dialogue and education.
Turkish-Kazakh schools across Kazakhstan are being renamed amid a campaign by Turkey against the exiled Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen. The Turkish-Kazakh schools were co-founded by Gulen’s Hizmet movement and his followers and have been functioning in Kazakhstan since early 1990s.
The recent unjustified arrest, detention, traumatization and subsequent release of 50 Nigerian students in Turkey by that country’s government must rank as a most unfortunate low in the Nigerian – Turkish relations. Seen in context, it constitutes an instance of unjustified victimization of innocent foreigners, out of misplaced grudge by a government that had no cause for such act of indiscretion.
Texas education officials have dismissed a complaint against the state’s largest charter school network after determining two major charges leveled against it by the Turkish government were baseless. “The flagrant lies spread by these foreign agents are unconscionable,” said Robert Schulman, a lawyer representing Harmony Public Schools.
We strongly condemn the arrest, detention and deportation of some Nigerian students from Turkey’s capital city, Istanbul, over the botched coup in the country. The harassment and intimidation of our students by the Turkish Government over a matter that does not concern them is undiplomatic and utterly reprehensible. The Turkish government should not visit the punishment for the alleged actions of its political enemies on innocent Nigerian students.
Nigerian students studying in Turkey have been detained in airports after being interrogated like criminals. About 50 of them were detained in Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport for 11 hours; some were deported, even though they were bona fide students who were yet to complete their studies.
According to Dabiri-Erewa: “The Federal Government is taking the detention of Nigerian students by Turkish authorities seriously. It seems that Turkey is trying to get at Nigeria for our failure to close down the 17 schools they requested. The government did not close down these schools because their owners and managers, who are private people have not breached Nigerian laws.”
Nigerian students in Turkey say that the Turkish government has declared a war on them and that they feel targeted, therefore they stay in hiding for fear of being arrested or deported. “We are scared of leaving our rooms for fear of being arrested and charged with terrorism, or deported. There is a man-hunt for Nigerian students in Turkey,” a student told The Cable.
No fewer than 50 Nigerians attending private schools in Turkey, including Fatih University, were recently deported by that country after the coup attempt. Nigeria had ignored calls by the Turkish government to close down 17 Turkish schools in the country. The Turkish government alleged that the schools were linked to Fethullah Gülen.
Nigerian lawmakers have urged the Turkish government to apologise for arresting and deporting dozens of Nigerian students. The majority of the youths attended the Fatih University, which is among thousands of educational buildings Turkey has shut down in a crackdown following the failed coup.
Turkish authorities have deported 5 Yemeni students at official universities which the authorities have recently shut down for links with US-based Muslim cleric, Fethullah Gulen. Tens of Yemeni students in Turkey are facing the risk of deportation for being students at universities administered by Fethullah Gulen’s movement.
The House of Representatives on Tuesday issued a seven-day ultimatum to Turkish Government to release over 50 Nigerian students being held in detention. The House called on the federal government to urgently deploy all diplomatic options to ensure their immediate release.