In Blow to Erdogan, Turkish Court Halts Closing of Schools Tied to His Rival

Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania and is a rival of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. Credit Ruth Fremson/The New York Times
Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania and is a rival of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. Credit Ruth Fremson/The New York Times


Date posted: July 14, 2015

CEYLAN YEGINSU

In a blow to the government, Turkey’s highest court has overturned a law that would have closed thousands of preparatory schools linked to an influential Muslim cleric and rival of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The Constitutional Court ruled on Monday that the legislation to shut the schools, passed in 2014 while Mr. Erdogan served as prime minister and his governing Justice and Development Party had a majority in Parliament, violated the freedom of education enshrined in the Turkish Constitution, according to local news media reports. Although the court’s decision was handed down on Monday, it was not expected to be published until Wednesday.

The schools, attended by students seeking to pass national high school and university entrance exams, are run by Fethullah Gulen, a cleric who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania. He presides over a network of millions of followers worldwide, some of whom hold high-ranking positions in law enforcement, the judiciary and business in Turkey.

Mr. Gulen is a former ally of Mr. Erdogan, and together they successfully removed the military from Turkish politics in recent years. But since accomplishing that goal, they have been enmeshed in a power struggle that morphed into a public feud last year when Mr. Erdogan accused the cleric of being behind a corruption investigation meant to topple his government.

Mr. Erdogan labeled the investigation a “coup attempt” orchestrated by a “parallel state” led by Mr. Gulen, and in response purged thousands of police officers and prosecutors suspected of having ties with the movement. Charges against all parties implicated in the corruption investigation were dropped this year.

The preparatory schools are a main source of income for Mr. Gulen’s movement, and their closing would have crippled the group’s financing. Mr. Erdogan said the decision to close the schools was “part of a reform of an unhealthy educational system that ranks Turkey below most other developed countries.” He said the system benefited only the children of rich families who could afford to go to the schools.

An appeal to overturn the law was sent to the Constitutional Court, in Ankara, by the main opposition, the Republican People’s Party, which argued that it violated the Constitution by depriving people of education and training.

“The law violated property and education rights,” said Orhan Kemal Cengiz, a lawyer and columnist for Today’s Zaman, a newspaper close to the Gulen movement. “It’s no different than the government shutting down restaurants and dictating that people eat at home.”

Mr. Cengiz said the decision would restore citizens’ faith in the Constitutional Court, which some suspect has fallen under the influence of the government.

The verdict comes at a time of great political uncertainty in Turkey, one month after a general election that stripped the governing party of its parliamentary majority for the first time in over a decade and curtailed Mr. Erdogan’s goal of transforming Turkey’s parliamentary system into a presidential one.

Now, the four parties that won seats in Parliament are jockeying to form a coalition government. Last week, Mr. Erdogan gave Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu a mandate to form a new government. If he fails to do so within 45 days, Mr. Erdogan can call for a snap election.

Using the Turkish acronym for the Justice and Development Party, Mr. Cengiz said, “The fact that the A.K.P. lost votes in the election may have had an impact on the court’s psychology, but in any event it was the right decision that has a strong legal basis.”

Mr. Erdogan did not comment on Monday’s ruling, but last year, when the Constitutional Court ruled that the government’s decision to ban Twitter was illegal, he criticized the court, saying he would not respect a decision that denigrated Turkey’s national values. The government lifted the ban one day after the ruling.

Source: The New York Times , July 14, 2015


Related News

Tension at home hits Turkey’s brand overseas

ESİDEF President Mustafa Özkara said: “Top government officials, who during the Turkish Olympiads only six months ago called the Hizmet movement the ‘peace movement of the century,’ now define the same movement as a ‘parallel structure,’ a ‘gang,’ a ‘criminal organization’ and even Hashashins.

My Father, Academic, Arrested In Turkey Purge

13 days have passed since my father was taken from us by the police and we still did not have a chance to speak with him. His lawyers predict that it may take up to at least six months until he goes to the court. The most painful moment was when I saw in the news that 14 militants linked to ISIS, from whom the police captured AK-47s, were released on the same day. Turkey now views my father and his colleagues more dangerous than ISIS militants.

South Africa to host 14th International Festival of Language and Culture

The 14th International Festival of Language and Culture, South Africa, IFLCSA, will be held this April twenty first, at the Nelson Mandela Theatre in Johannesburg. The Festival is the largest and most prominent global project for promoting world languages and cultures.

Council of Europe: Turkey must separate coup plotters from Gülen employees

“We are stressing to the Turks that they have to present clear evidence, be able to separate those who were clearly behind the coup and those who have been in some way or another connected to or working for this so-called Gülen network,” Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, told Reuters.

Former Pakistani PM expresses gratitude for Turkish schools

Underlining that Pakistan’s major problems result from a lack of adequate education, the former prime minister noted that the developed education system at Pakistan’s 23 Turkish schools could play a significant role in solving those problems in the country.

Gülen’s Lawyer Albayrak: Evidence fabricated to lay psychological ground for legal case

The main goal of the black propaganda raised against Gülen is to fabricate evidence for a case against Gülen and members of the Hizmet movement. The ultimate goal, he further argues, is to ensure that the movement is classified as an organized crime syndicate. The black propaganda reports will be used as evidence to substantiate the allegations.

Latest News

Crimes Against Humanity in Erdogan’s Turkey

Exiled journalist warns of a genocide in the making in newly released book

Vague terrorism charge used to target supporters of the Gülen movement: UN special rapporteurs

ECtHR urges Albania not to deport Gülen follower to Turkey

Woman detained over links to Gülen movement after giving birth

Formerly Gülen-linked schools in Albania face growing gov’t pressure

Exclusive: Turkey, Kosovo violated fundamental rights of expelled teachers, UN body says

Sacked policeman’s grim death sparks debate on COVID-19 data in Turkish prisons

Dissidents of the Turkish government are living in fear in Canada

In Case You Missed It

12 detained for raising funds to help families of jailed Gülen sympathizers

Head of Azerbaijan’s Çağ Education Company denies authenticity of letter to Gülen

Why are they becoming terrorists?

German ambassador: Berlin does not recognize Gülen movement as ‘terrorist’ group

Very bad things are happening in Turkey

Gulen-Inspired Schools Promote Learning and Service: A Response to Philadelphia Inquirer

Albania: Erdoğan given appropriate response to ‘political’ request on Turkish schools

Copyright 2021 Hizmet News