Turkish consulates in Germany have been organizing events for Turkish parents and asking them to spy on critics of the President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Turkey at German schools, according to an education trade union, GEW (Gewerkschaft Erziehung und Wissenschaft).
Turkish diplomatic offices around the world are gathering information in a bid to undermine organizations loyal to a Muslim cleric. Turkey is pressing nations to crack down on the Gulen movement’s network of schools and charities outside of the country.
The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) head İlhan Yerlikaya has sent a letter to his Albanian counterpart to restrict a documentary titled “Love is a Verb,” saying that the film was broadcasted to make propaganda on behalf of the Gülen movement.
According to data from the German Federal Ministry of the Interior, there has been a rapid rise in the number of Turkish people seeking asylum in Germany since a failed coup attempt on July 15. Germany received asylum applications from a total of 5,166 Turkish citizens during the January-November period of 2016, according to a story in Deutsche Welle on Sunday.
In recent years, the movement has received more scrutiny, not least after its long-time alley, Turkish President Erdogan, publicly split with the group, accusing it of infiltrating state institutions and even outright “terrorism”. Germany’s intelligence services disagree: In 2014, they published an assessment outlining that while some elements within the movement gave room for concern, they didn’t warrant an observation of the movement.
The Alliance for Shared Values of the US & The Dialogue Platform of the UK have prepared a report on “UK’s relations with Turkey” that focuses on the Hizmet Movement. The report may be downloaded, disseminated for free and even printed. Representatives from these organizations were personally invited to submit written evidence by the Committee to explain Hizmet and provide Hizmet’s response to the AKP government’s allegations against Fethullah Gülen and the Hizmet movement.
German lawmakers have called for an investigation of Turkish intelligence operations in their country, specifically charging that Turkey is spying on suspected followers of exiled cleric and accused coup mastermind Fethullah Gulen.
According to German media, the spies write reports on the alleged Gulen supporters and the secretive information is collected from imams of the Turkish-Islamic Union of the Institute for Religion (Ditib). The names of the so-called spies are then reported to the relevant [Turkish] state bodies and consulates.
The UK Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee is examining the bilateral relationship between the UK and Turkey, focusing on rights and freedoms as well as how Turkish foreign and security policies relate to those of the UK. The inquiry is ongoing.
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.