Date posted: August 29, 2015
Police and inspectors from several government departments have carried out further raids on Gülen-inspired schools, including a kindergarten in Manisa, as part of a government-led operation targeting the faith-based Gülen movement, popularly known as the Hizmet movement, influenced by the teachings of Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen.
Manisa was among one of five provinces where police officers and inspectors from several government bodies raided Gülen-inspired private and prep schools on Aug. 26.
Early on Thursday, police officers from the Anti-smuggling and Organized Crime Bureau (KOM), accompanied by inspectors from numerous government departments, including the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, the Finance Ministry, the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, and the Social Security Institution (SGK), raided a private kindergarten and the primary and secondary schools, part of the Şehzade Mehmet Education Institutions. While police officers prevented people from entering the school during the inspections, some students’ parents gathered in front of the schools to protest the raid, Cihan news agency reports.
Chairman of private Şehzade Mehmet Education Institutions Ömer Yerkazanoğlu said that two different sets of raids had been carried out on the schools within two days. Referring to all the Gülen-inspired institutions, Yerkazanoğlu said: “These schools are famous for educating people to be good, honest and decent humans. This has been tested and proven [by a number of countries] around the world. Now they [the inspectors] are coming to the schools with police and looking for problems, something [to damage the schools’ reputation]. I think what they are actually looking for is the method that describes how these schools succeed in teaching young people and creating role models.” Yerkazanoğlu added that the fundamental success of the schools was down to the self-sacrificing teachers.
In addition to this, in the southern province of Kilis, more Gülen-inspired private and prep schools were raided by riot team police as well as inspectors from eight different government bodies, at the same time as those raids in Manisa.
As well as schools, a total of 15 dormitories in the eastern province of Gaziantep were raided. Computers and invoice registers were examined during the inspection that took place on Aug. 26.
Nezih Çıtız, principal of Halil Cevizli Boys’ Dormitory, spoke to the press and criticized inspectors for raiding the dormitories with the presence of police officers. Çıtız stated that there had been no problem during previous inspections. “You look like you’re raiding a terrorist shelter,” Çıtız said, referring to the police officers: “This is the first time we have ever come across police officers [during an inspection]. Does the [Gaziantep] Governor regard this place as a terrorist shelter? We do not pose any danger to the inspectors’ safety,” Çıtız added.
A superintendent from another raided dormitory said that the police officers wanted to know whether any Syrians were residing in the building.
The detailed practices carried out during the recent inspections to Gülen-inspired education institutions received widespread attention in the media. It became regular practice for the inspectors to measure the width and length of the stairs, as well as various school noticeboards, to find out whether they were in compliance with the related regulations.
A number of private and prep schools that are sympathetic to the Gülen movement have been targeted by the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) after a major graft investigation, one that implicated President Erdoğan and other top AK Party figures, was made public on Dec. 17, 2013.
Then-Prime Minister Erdoğan accused the Gülen movement of plotting to overthrow his government. In May 2014, Erdoğan publicly advised AK Party supporters not to send their children to schools affiliated with the movement, vowing, “We will not even give water [to the movement’s members].” He has also said he would carry out a “witch hunt” against anyone with links to the movement. Erdoğan has also ordered officials in AK Party-run municipalities to seize land and buildings belonging to the Gülen movement by any means necessary. The movement strongly rejects the allegations and no indictment has been brought against it.
Source: Today's Zaman , August 27, 2015