Turkish PM Erdoğan launches another war [in Turkey]

Mustafa Akyol
Mustafa Akyol


Date posted: November 23, 2013

Last week I wrote a piece in this column titled, “Behind the war over prep schools.” In fact, it was not a full-scale culture war then, but rather a growing tension. But Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan made it obvious to everyone this week by announcing on a TV show that he is determined to close all prep schools and he, as usual, will “not take a step back.”

Prep schools, or “dershaneler” in Turkish, are private weekend courses to prepare high school students for the national university exam. Since this annual exam is the key determinant in getting into Turkey’s centralized university system, getting high scores in it has become the most crucial goal of students. And prep schools emerged as specialized courses to prepare students for this “test of your life.”

But there is more than what meets the eye. A quarter of the prep schools are operated by the Fethullah Gülen Movement, a moderate Islamic community whose main focus is education – both in Turkey and abroad. That is why Erdoğan’s plans to close all prep schools have been opposed by the Gülen Movement, besides other advocates of limited government and free enterprise.

At this point one can wonder why Erdoğan, a conservative Muslim politician, would be at odds with a civil society group that also consists of conservative, practicing Muslims. The answer is that Turkey’s Islamic camp is more diverse than one would think. In fact, the traditions that Erdoğan and Gülen come from have almost always been distinct and different from each. The former has been more explicitly Islamist, at times anti-Western, and at times anti-Semitic. The latter, the line of Gülen, which goes back to scholar Said Nursi (1878-1960), has rather stayed closer to center-right parties and have been more friendly to the West and also other “Abrahamic” faiths.

Yet still, Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Gülen Movement formed an alliance in the first decade of this century against the old guard – the military and its ultra-secularist allies. Once the old guard was defeated and subdued, however, in a controversial and partly troublesome process, the winners began to have their disputes. “The party” and “the community,” in other words, have parted ways.

According to the Gülen Movement, the problem was that Erdoğan was corrupted by power and wanted to impose his authority over everyone, including his former supporters. According to pro-Erdoğan camp, the problem was that the movement had too many members in the bureaucracy, which acted like a “parallel state.”

Erdoğan’s recent decision to close down all prep schools must be seen this light. Although the prime minister denies any dispute with “our brothers,” everybody, including the Gülen Movement itself, perceives the move as a maneuver against his former allies.

For me, this is flatly wrong. Erdoğan, as an elected prime minister, certainly has the right to design his bureaucracy in the way he deems fit. But he has no right to design society by curbing free enterprise and monopolizing the education market.

The political consequences of this move will be interesting to see. Erdoğan has now openly defined the Gülen Movement as “the other side,” and thus he should not expect their votes in the upcoming local and presidential elections. The amount of the risk he has taken will be revealed by the ballots.

Source: Hurriyet Daily News , November 23, 2013


Related News

Is [Erdogan’s] Maarif Foundation capable of delivering quality education?

Not only will the Maarif Foundation be unable to accomplish anything conducive and rewarding, it will not be able to prepare the required generation of youth with open-mindedness and critical thinking.

Turkey Targets Gulen-Inspired Projects Around the World

In past years, big names in South Africa picked up the annual Gulen Peace Award, a local accolade inspired by a Turkish preacher who has been blamed by Turkey for an attempted coup last month.

PM Basindawa opens new campus of Turkish-Yemeni School

SANA’A, Oct. 21, 2012 A Yemeni-Turkish School was opened Saturday in the Aser neighborhood of Sana’a in the presence of a slew of Turkish and Yemeni government officials. The school, which is largely a symbolic gesture of the continued friendly relationship between the two nations, was funded by Turkish businessmen and began construction in February […]

Gülen Movement done nothing wrong, rather improved lives of the masses

No doubt that Turkey’s Schindler’s List today involves members of the Gülen movement who have done nothing wrong other than volunteering their time, money and expertise to improve the lives of people around themselves. They are viciously being demonized and vilified by Turkey’s President Erdoğan because they stood up against this tyrant’s massive corruption dragnet and arming of radical militants in other countries.

Tamsil: The inadvertent overspill of internalization

Gülen says, “Where you are [your ego], He is not; where you are not [your ego], He is.” In the Naqshibandi Sufi order there are four steps to reaching spiritual enlightenment “forget [forsake] the world, forget the [rewards of] the afterlife, forget your ego, forget [all these acts of] forgetting,” lest being conscious of them risks making one proud. So forgetting, or in the case of tamsil, not being aware of or intending to show or guide from the outset is key.

Turkish schools holding Indonesia’s largest science olympiad

One thousand 202 project entries in total from across the country were received months ahead of the event. 160 of them qualified for the finals passing a jury of eminent names. The finalists will be ultimately judged by academics from the top five universities of the country. Top 25 projects will receive their awards at a ceremony this Thursday and represent Indonesia in international science olympiads.

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

Turkey shies away from legal measures to provide equal opportunity in education

My husband is being tortured and I am worried about his life

A private Turkish university opens in northern Iraq

Yamanlar College student becomes world math champion

4th Legislative Reception in Richmond

Turkish businesswomen hold panel at the UN on female empowerment

AFSV Statement on Turkish Government Actions against Free Media

Copyright 2022 Hizmet News