Turkish nationals in South Africa fear abductions

Nizamiye Mosque Complex in Midrand. Picture: Facebook
Nizamiye Mosque Complex in Midrand. Picture: Facebook


Date posted: April 24, 2018

BONGANI NKOSI

Johannesburg – “Yesterday we were sitting together, today they call us terrorists. Immediately overnight they changed.”

A conspicuously distressed Turkish national uttered these words during an interview with The Star at the Nizamiye Mosque Complex in Midrand.

Asking for anonymity, fearing reprisals, the executive from the Horizon Education Trust was referring to the growing animosity between a majority of members of the Turkish community in South Africa and their embassy.

The Horizon Education Trust, which runs Turkish schools in South Africa, is aligned to the Gülen movement. Started in 1960 by Fethullah Gülen, who is currently exiled in the US, the movement boasts a network of NGOs, schools and businesses.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s regime has accused this transnational, philosophy-based movement of attempting to dethrone him from power through a violent coup d’etat two years ago.

The Gülen movement has repeatedly denied it was behind the attempted coup that claimed about 250 lives and left over 2 000 people injured.

Elif Çomolu Ülgen, Turkey’s ambassador to South Africa, told The Star that members of the movement were terrorists. Ülgen refused to reply to questions, opting only to offer a statement.

“This group is not an innocent civil society group or a religious group. They are, unfortunately, a terrorist group.

“They are working through schools and other business structures in more than 150 countries around the world,” she said.

However, the Horizon Education Trust official and a fellow Turk working for the Universal Rights Association rejected this as propaganda meant to besmirch expatriate Turks believed to be linked to the Gülen movement.

“They know we’re not terrorists. But it’s very easy for them to name us that,” said the education trust executive.

He said their schools used to enjoy a cordial relationship with the embassy. “They were also participating in our activities as an NGO. Ambassadors came to this mosque many times when we invited them.

“They were supporting us and we also supported them when they had programmes. We didn’t have problems.”

The Universal Rights Association activist said the embassy’s attitude towards many Turkish schools, NGOs and businesses operating in South Africa had changed suddenly.

“Before the coup attempt they (embassy) changed their policies. They wanted our institutions to become like a propaganda centre for them.

“We told them we’re NGOs, we can’t accept that. We’re not here to promote Turkey or Turkish nationalism, but education by dialogue and peace.

“Because they can see we’re active in 160 countries, in most countries they didn’t even have embassies, so they wanted to use us.

“They threatened us that, ‘if you guys don’t support us and become part of our agenda, we’re going to present your group as terrorists in the world and we’ll finish you’.”

Ülgen, on the other hand, said the Gülen movement was a terrorist organisation with a stronghold in South Africa. “(The country) has unfortunately kind of provided a safe haven for those people who are running away from the legal procedures in Turkey. There is a political dialogue ongoing with Turkey and South Africa about their presence and their structures (in the country).”

The Erdoğan regime has admitted to abducting 80 Turks allegedly linked to the Gülen movement from 18 countries. “Wherever they are, we will package them up and bring them (to Turkey), God willing,” Erdoğan recently told the media.

Ndivhuwo Mabaya, spokesperson for the Department of International Relations and Co-operation, said: “As government, we can’t comment on speculation. Unless you’re saying there are Turkish citizens who are being abducted (from South Africa), that’s something else.”

Amnesty International’s Southern African spokesperson Robert Shivambu has urged the Erdoğan regime to respect human rights. “People should be allowed to express themselves.”

 

Source: The Star , April 23, 2018


Related News

‘Pool media’ court case against Zaman daily tossed out

An İstanbul court tossed out a court case filed against the Zaman daily by the Turkuvaz Media Group involving a Zaman news article detailing pro-government businessman pooling funds together to purchase Turkuvaz late last week.

Turkish schools and businessmen mobilized for Izmir’s EXPO candidacy

The Turkish schools around the globe have been making great effort for Izmir’s EXPO 2020 win. The schools and businessmen have taken action so that Bureau of International Expositions committee opts for Turkey in the voting to take place in Paris on November 27th. “What is lost with Olympics can be made up for in EXPO,” Fethullah Gulen had earlier said.

Deporting Turkish teachers – Why can’t we separate politics from education?

The act of sending to Turkey over 400 Turkish citizens working and studying in the Pak-Turk International School system is highly condemnable. They have been living in Pakistan since 1995 and this is their home now. Their kids were born and brought up in Pakistan. It is heart-wrenching to see that they are suddenly being treated like terrorists.

The turmoil in Turkey – The terror threat is real and is made worse by Erdogan’s paranoia

Mr. Erdogan’s own Islamist and autocratic tendencies have also compounded the country’s vulnerability. Since an attempted coup last summer, the President has purged thousands of police officers and soldiers, and the resulting talent and resources gap may have damaged Ankara’s counterterror capabilities.

Concluding statement of the International panel on Mary announced

The international panel, titled “Mary in the Holy Scripture and Qur’an,” which was jointly held by the Journalists and Writers Foundation’s (GYV) Intercultural Dialogue Platform (KADİP), the Tevere Institute and İzmir Intercultural Dialogue Center (İZDİM), was concluded with a statement.

CHP leader says Erdoğan’s UN speech only served to promote Gülen movement

Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has criticized a speech delivered by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at a UN meeting on Tuesday in which he called on world leaders to take measures against the faith-based Gülen movement, saying that Erdoğan’s speech only served to promote the Gülen movement.

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

Liberals silent as Turkey targets its own Khashoggi

New Book – The House of Service: The Gülen Movement and Islam’s Third Way (New York: Oxford University Press)

Borough President Adams Celebrates Eid with Food Donation

Albania deports Gülen follower at Turkey’s request despite court rejection of extradition

Journalists and Writers Foundation-European Union Delegation Roundtable Meeting

Deputies: Turkish Olympiads best response to voices against Hizmet

Putting Foolish Labels: “Gulen Charter Schools”

Copyright 2023 Hizmet News