Date posted: November 3, 2013
BİLAL ÖĞÜTCÜ, DAKAR
Senegal is a predominantly Muslim country (99 percent of its 15 million people are Muslim).
This developing African nation, which has a long coastline along the Atlantic Ocean, was a French colony for many years; the official language in the country is still French. Senegal has a strong influence over all other African nations.
The Senegalese people have become familiar with Turks through Turkish schools in the country. Senegalese Media Owners Association Chair Madiambal Diagne says this has changed their perspective radically. He notes that they particularly appreciate the Turks’ contribution because they observe Islamic precepts and rules.
Noting that he finds the Turks courageous, Diagne says: “Sadly, our faith is not properly represented by some people in the world. However, the Hizmet movement is focused on tolerance, brotherhood, solidarity and ethical values.”
According to Diagne, the Turks should also be appreciated because of their approach toward education. “The best way to help people in another country like ours is to extend support in the field of education. The people who receive this educational support become industrious and decent and do their job properly. There is a visible gap between the higher income groups and lower income segments. To ensure that the middle class is enlarged in a country, people should have better education. To have more decent rulers, we need well-educated people. The Yavuz Selim Education Institutions that serve in Senegal offer this,” he says.
After being introduced to the Hizmet movement, Diagne comments on the movement and Fethullah Gülen every Monday in his paper. “People are surprised, and when they get surprised, they read more. The representatives of the Hizmet movement here are taken as role models. They represent Turkey very well via their attitudes and actions. I believe this will contribute to the emergence of new ties between Turkey and Senegal.”
The Senegalese media boss notes that his surprise at Turkey increased after paying a visit to the country. “As Senegalese people, we thought we were very hospitable people. But I saw the true hospitability when I visited Turkey.”
Diagne believes that Turkey has been unable to introduce its assets and beauty properly “Turkey is not a country you can understand without seeing it. I realized that what I had been told was insignificant compared to what I have seen.”
The Yavuz Selim Education Institution has nine schools in Senegal. The Senegalese media owner says the Turkish schools have gained prestige over a very short period of time: “The greatest dream of parents here is to see their kids study at one of these schools some day. These schools offer high quality education and serve as role models for the children. The other education institutions in Senegal should take lessons from these schools. Currently, Yavuz Selim Education Institutions have preschool institutions, elementary, primary and high schools. They need to open a university immediately as well.”
They should support the activities of Hizmet movement, says Diagne, which includes delivery of meat from sacrificed animals to the poor and needy during Eid al-Adha. Recalling that Turkish people not only from Turkey but also from Germany, France, Belgium, Holland, Sweden and Australia have visited their country to join these efforts this year, Diagne says: “They go to the remotest parts of the country. Some of these villages are so remote that even we do not go there. This is amazing. We need to extend support and help as much as we can.”
Source: Today's Zaman , November 3, 2013