Date posted: November 25, 2013
Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen called on his followers on Monday to “just keep walking and not stop” in the face of controversial government plans to abolish privately-funded educational institutions known as dershanes, which assist medium and high school students to prepare for national college and university admission examinations.
“When you stop, you fall down,” he said, signaling that followers of the Hizmet (service) movement should strive further in multiplying their efforts to serve their communities and humanity.
He said Hizmet followers should be dedicated and committed to their cause without any expectations in return, material or otherwise, saying that all efforts should be made to please Allah.
“The only thing we seek is the pleasure of Allah and to be able to present this matter [asking Allah’s pleasure] to Him with ultimate sincerity,” Gülen explained.
He cautioned that various groups will try to prevent Hizmet followers from walking along their path by setting up numerous obstacles, stressing that those who believe in the Hizmet ideals for the sake of Allah should not mind these efforts. “We must walk the path without being shaken,” he emphasized.
Gülen stated that all these attacks should not let Hizmet followers give in to despair.
The Hizmet movement operates roughly a quarter of some 3,500 prep schools in Turkey while the rest are owned and operated by individuals or companies. Since all are privately funded, the government’s plan to shut down these schools is seen as blow to the right to free enterprise, the right to education and the right to provide services.
The plan was interpreted as a political maneuver by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government headed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as an attempt to punish the movement for being critical of the government on the lack of bold human rights reforms, the stalled EU process, its blunders in foreign policy, lingering corruption, weakened transparency and the lack of accountability in governance.
The government’s plan to forcibly abolish all private prep schools received huge criticisms across the board from business community and the academia to opposition parties, media and civic groups. It was also seen as an attempt by Erdoğan to distract the public from the great problems in public education including drug and alcohol abuse.
Erdoğan has kept up his attacks on prep schools relentlessly for a week now, marginalizing some 100,000 employees in prep schools. He wowed to push the legislation through Parliament no matter what others say or do.
In a series of speeches published on herkul.org, a website that usually broadcasts his conversations, Gülen has been calling for calmness and patience despite the attacks from pro-government circles.
“A believer can be shaken but he won’t be toppled. This is how we should interpret this situation. One should be patient over tribulations,” he noted.
Commenting on the insulting attacks leveled on Hizmet followers, he said: “You might hear terrible things but I beg you, we should not be responding in kind.”
He also underlined that the most important asset Hizmet followers have is trustworthiness and confidence, saying that “leading by example” will solve all sorts of problems.
In the draft bill, the government threatens private prep schools with hefty fines if they do not stop their operations.
Source: Today's Zaman , November 25, 2013