Turkey targets Gulen schools in Africa

The Yavuz Selim school in Dakar is one of eleven Gulen educational establishments in Senegal
The Yavuz Selim school in Dakar is one of eleven Gulen educational establishments in Senegal


Date posted: August 5, 2016

Turkish government anger with the Gulen movement, over its alleged involvement in the failed July 15 coup, has spread to Africa. Governments are being pressured into closing down Gulen schools.

Children are romping around the school grounds apparently without a care in the world. A few of them are standing together and reciting in unison “I for ice cream, J for job.” The atmosphere is bright and cheerful and the school has a clear vision of its future and that of its students. Such is the impression which the Nigeria Turkish International School in Abuja, capital of Nigeria, seeks to convey to visitors.

The school belongs to the Hizmet movement run by US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen. It is one of a chain of 17 educational establishments operating in various parts of Nigeria since 1998. Their goal is not merely to pass down knowledge from teacher to student, Hizmet representative, Cemal Yigit told DW. “As educators, we can help build a more peaceful society in countries troubled by conflict,” he said.

Hizmet runs schools and universities in more than 160 countries. But the network has its critics and some analysts suspect it of wanting to create a conservative Muslim educational elite.

In Nigeria the schools have a good reputation. The contribution the movement makes to Nigerian education is enormous, said Mainasara Umar from the National Commission for Colleges of Education. “The movement is a pillar of support for the education system, which in Nigeria is in a very dilapidated state,” he said. The more establishments there are like this in Nigeria, the less inclined Nigerians will be to seek an education abroad.

Hizmet also has educational establishments in Senegal; there are 11 schools in five of the country’s 14 regions. Some 2,600 students are enrolled there.

School closures

The crisis in Turkey is exposing Fethullah Gulen to international pressure. The Turkish government believes he was behind the attempted coup on July 15, a charge which he denies.

Turkey targets Gulen schools in Africa

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan (center) opened a new embassy in Somalia in June 2016

So how will that impact Gulen’s educational establishments in Africa? Mesut Gokcan Ates, spokesman for Gulen schools in Senegal remains optimistic. Disputes between Hizmet and the Turkish government have flared up repeatedly over the last three years, but Turkey has never asked the Senegalese government to close them down.

In other countries, however, Turkey has already made such requests. Last week, Turkey’s ambassador to Nigeria approached the government and said the Gulen schools should be closed down. The reason he gave was the schools’ links to the Hizmet movement, which Turkey regards as a terrorist organization. The ambassador’s appeal was met by a storm of protest from the Nigerian side and it is as yet unclear how President Buhari will handle the request.

Somalia reacted rather differently and very quickly. According to the New York Times, Somalia shut down premises belonging to the movement within hours of the attempted coup in Turkey. Somalia has benefited greatly from Turkish development aid in the past.

In Tanzania, school operators now fear Turkish intervention in their affairs. The Feza schools on Zanzibar, the nation’s semi-autonomous archipelago, have sought to distance themselves from the attempted coup in Turkey. “Our agenda is education. We have nothing to do with politics,” Abdulrahman Saloum, a deputy school director, told DW. Zanzibar, which has a Muslim majority, has maintained close ties with Turkey, but Ankara still halted aid payments to it following the abortive July 15 coup.

Redundant bursaries

Turkey is apparently exerting all this pressure because it suspects the Hizmet movement of wanting to build a political network. Schools in Nigeria and Senegal have indeed given students bursaries so they can go and study in Turkey. But school directors dismiss any suggestion of political motives or entanglements.

The bursaries are also of little use to those students in Turkey at the present time. Senegalese student Yacine Ndiaye says she doesn’t know what will become of her studies in Turkey because her university has been closed down as a result of the crackdown on academic establishments. “We don’t know which other institution they will send us to, or whether our residence permits will be extended. We still have all our belongings in Turkey,” she said.

Source: DW , August 4, 2016


Related News

Pakistan Today Editorial: The Turkish connection and Turkish schools

Surely nobody at the joint session really believed Mr Erdogan’s warning about the threat the so called Gullen Network presents Pakistan. No doubt the Turkish president really believes the Network – which ran schools here till just before his visit – is just as dangerous for Pakistan as al Qaeda, etc.

German intel expert says, based on CIA, BND reports, Erdoğan was behind failed coup

German intelligence expert and author Erich Schmidt-Eenboom has said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, not the faith-based Gülen movement, was behind a failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016 based on intelligence reports from the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND).

US-based Turkish cleric denies involvement in coup plot

Fethullah Gulen told reporters at his Pennsylvania compound he knows only a “minute fraction” of his legions of sympathizers in Turkey, so he cannot speak to their “potential involvement” in the attempted coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Nigerian Turkish schools denies links to Turkey coup

The management of the Nigerian-Turkish International Colleges (NTIC) says the government of Turkey is insulting Nigeria by requesting the closure of its schools in the country.

Efforts to accuse Hizmet movement of conspiracy failed, says lawyer

With the courts continuing to release police officers arrested in government-backed investigations, the lawyer of one of these officers says the court decisions have shown that the government is failing to demonstrate that the faith-based Hizmet movement was behind efforts to overthrow the government.

Turkish school in Afghanistan opened

Turkey is continuing to invest in Afghanistan’s future by building schools countrywide. The most recent of them, a high school built by the Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency (TİKA) in the town of Kızılayak in Sheberghan province, was opened on Wednesday. The ceremony was attended by Mohammad Hashim Zari, Sheberghan’s governor, Özgür Arman, Turkish consul […]

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

Bank Asya recovers from gov’t provocation

Members of US Congress withstand intense pressure over press freedom letter

Historic ijma meeting in İstanbul

Gülen movement to be discussed at Arab League

Daily publishes evidence of ‘color lists’ used to recruit public sector employees

Kimse Yok Mu and Tuna Foundation lifting up Romanian orphans’ spirit

Philippine education minister invites Turks to open more schools in his country

Copyright 2022 Hizmet News