Turkish schools abroad victims of AKP-Gulen conflict


Date posted: April 12, 2014

Fehim Taştekin

The fate of the Gulen movement’s schools — located in over 160 countries — is being debated following Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s declaration of war in the wake of the Dec. 17 graft probe that targeted individuals associated with his government.


The fear that more than 2,000 schools could be shut down can be traced back to Erdogan’s statements at a Turkish ambassadors conference in January: “This organization has to be exposed. Responsibility for it is on the shoulders of every one of our ambassadors.” According to Gulenists, these schools, which until now had been called “the most successful export commodity of Turkey,” were targeted by the prime minister’s directive. They say the Foreign Ministry is “lobbying to close down the schools,” directing their accusations at Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

On April 10, Davutoglu responded to accusations. “There is no instruction to close them down. Where did this come from? There is no such decision by the Foreign Ministry, but there is one standing instruction: ‘Should anyone, doesn’t matter who, insult the Turkish Republic in any manner or work against it, whatever needed will be done.’” He added, “We toiled for every stone put to those schools.”

Davutoglu, who was in New York to rally support for Turkey’s Security Council membership, said letters were sent to foreign missions denigrating the government of Turkey. He said, “When we saw the letters sent by some civil society leaders complaining about these schools operating in the United States, I asked myself, perhaps it was necessary to query what these schools were really doing.” Media outlets close to the Gulen movement interpreted these comments as an admission of the instructions that he had denied.

Pro-government daily Yeni Safak published a letter alleged to have been sent to foreign missions based in the United States by the Alliance for Shared Values. The letter states that due to the government’s adoption of measures to restrict freedoms in reaction to the graft probe, Turkey’s 90-year-old democracy was in crisis.

First results

As the debate rages over whether there are official instructions, a school was closed in Gambia and schools in Azerbaijan were nationalized. According to the Azerbaijan news agency ANA, 13 tutoring halls and 11 schools, including the Cag-Caucasian University of Baku, were attached to the Azerbaijan International Education Center, which is a part of Azerbaijan’s oil and natural gas corporation Socar.

Erdogan was in Baku making his first post-election trip abroad when he was asked: “Did you ask anything about the Cemaat [Gulen movement] schools?” He replied, “If we have problems in our countries, we will discuss them among ourselves.” Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev was more explicit. “We don’t allow any step that could cause the slightest harm to our relations. We didn’t allow it and won’t allow it,” he said.

According to daily Milliyet’s Abdullah Karakus, Erdogan went to Baku with a special dossier on the Cemaat’s schools and asked Aliyev to take measures against them. Karakus quoted a Prime Ministry source confirming, “These schools were on the agenda of the meetings. The Azeri side is working on it.”

Erkam Tufan Aytav, vice president of the Cemaat-affiliated Journalists and Writers Foundation, said Erdogan issued directives to close down institutions belonging to the Cemaat, and that Davutoglu had been working diligently on the ambassadors to this end. According to Aytav, the state had no role whatsoever in opening these schools, but letters sent from former Presidents Turgut Ozal and Suleyman Demirel to leaders of certain countries where schools were opened, played a role in building trust.

Aytav added, “Under free-market conditions, these schools have become a brand. They are the biggest export commodity of Turkey. They are secular schools that adhere to the curriculum of countries where they operate. They are institutions that represent Turkey wonderfully.” He then quoted an unnamed African leader, whose child attends one of these schools, as responding to the closure request as follows, “I know these schools. Why should I close them? If you push too hard I will close down your embassy instead.”

There are many in the opposition who also oppose closing the schools. One is former Minister of Culture Ertugrul Gunay, who resigned from the Justice and Development Party (AKP). Now an independent parliamentarian, Gunay said, “Closing of Turkish schools is yet another adverse example of our erratic foreign policy. These schools were filling an important void in Turkey’s education and culture needs. In earlier years, we all visited these schools and we were proud of them.”

Although the schools were set up by private entrepreneurs affiliated with the Cemaat, until Dec. 17 the Turkish state did not withhold support from what it proudly called “Turkish schools.” The foreign minister made a point of visiting these schools in his foreign travels. Students participated in the International Turkish Olympics, which have been held since 2003. Erdogan harshly declared that the government would not allow these Olympics to be held in Turkey. “They can’t hold the Turkish Olympics from now on. That is done with.”

For many years, in countries with no Turkish Embassy, these schools served as de facto diplomatic missions. It would be the first place that Turkish officials and journalists would go to for assistance. To be honest, these schools did not deny assistance to anyone. Now these schools are likely to be victims of a brutal struggle, in which the government is accused of “corruption, illegality and heavy handedness,” and the Cemaat is charged with “illegal tapping, plots, creating a parallel state and launching investigations with fraudulent documents.”

Source: Al Monitor , April 11, 2014


Related News

Turkish schools praised by Uganda’s education minister

Ugandan Education Minister Jessica Alupo commented on the success of Galaxy International Schools in Uganda during a recent trip to Turkey. Alupo stressed that the five Galaxy International Schools, which were opened by Turkish entrepreneurs and operate across Uganda with nearly 1,500 students, encourage pupils to grow as individuals.

Gülen says he supports broader press freedoms

Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen has said he advocates broader rights specifically in the arenas of freedom of expression and freedom of the press for journalists, including those who “unjustly” accuse him of conspiring against them. The allegations were recently voiced following the recent release of four journalists released pending trial in the OdaTV case, […]

Censored by theft: Man caught stealing copies of Zaman daily

In the video footage, the young man is seen stealing three Zaman newspapers placed in the mail boxes of an apartment building. When asked by the subscriber who was filming why he was stealing the newspapers, the thief said his father was the AK Party’s Beylikdüzü provincial chairman and that his father had initiated the campaign against Zaman because it is defaming the party.

Gülen’s speech broadcast live for first time after website banned

A speech by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who lives in Pennsylvania in self-imposed exile, was broadcast live on YouTube and a number of stations for the first time on Sunday, after Turkey’s state-controlled Internet watchdog blocked access to herkul.org, a website that previously was used to broadcast his speeches.

AFSV Condemns Erdoğan’s Persecution of the Hizmet Movement

The push by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the Prime Minister’s cabinet to designate the Hizmet movement — also known as the “Gülen movement” — as a terrorist organization only serves to further Erdoğan’s crackdown on dissent, civil society and the media.

Intellectuals from West, East agree Gülen movement works for a better world

At a time when the faith-based Gülen movement is under heavy government pressure in Turkey, intellectuals from various countries have praised the movement for its efforts to make the world a better place for everyone by promoting education, peace, benevolence through dedication.

Latest News

Fethullah Gülen’s Condolence Message for South African Human Rights Defender Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Hizmet Movement Declares Core Values with Unified Voice

Ankara systematically tortures supporters of Gülen movement, Kurds, Turkey Tribunal rapporteurs say

Erdogan possessed by Pharaoh, Herod, Hitler spirits?

Devious Use of International Organizations to Persecute Dissidents Abroad: The Erdogan Case

A “Controlled Coup”: Erdogan’s Contribution to the Autocrats’ Playbook

Why is Turkey’s Erdogan persecuting the Gulen movement?

Purge-victim man sent back to prison over Gulen links despite stage 4 cancer diagnosis

University refuses admission to woman jailed over Gülen links

In Case You Missed It

Kimse Yok Mu invited for consultation before UN summit

Every second a Turkish asylum seeker heads to Germany

[VIDEO] Turkish philosophy teacher says wife had to give birth at home due to Erdogan’s witch-hunt

Kimse Yok Mu to distribute meat in 100 countries

Taraf daily to sue PM Erdoğan over treason accusations

Gulen movement sympathizers committed to interfaith dialogue, charity and nonviolence

TUSKON awarded damages, to build orphanage in Uganda

Copyright 2022 Hizmet News