[Hizmet’s] Prep schools and civilized debate

Markar ESAYAN
Markar ESAYAN


Date posted: December 1, 2013

Markar Esayan

The prep-school debate has recently revisited Turkey’s agenda after periodically ebbing and flowing since the 1980s. The prep-school sector, which is the product of the huge problems in the country’s education system and students’ having to pass a challenging centralized examination before attending university, has grown out of proportion and presents us with a system that needs to be regulated. For some time, the government has been mulling its plan to transform the prep schools. However, when Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that they would shut down the prep schools, tensions skyrocketed.

The Hizmet movement, inspired by well-respect Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, led the band of opponents to the government’s transformation plan. This is unsurprising, as the Hizmet movement controls several media organizations and owns about 25 percent of the prep schools in Turkey. As its name implies (“hizmet” means “service” in Turkish), the Hizmet movement basically focuses on providing humanitarian services. And prep schools provide this community good opportunities to get involved with society. These factors led the spotlight to turn on the Hizmet movement as the government’s opponent in this debate.

I recently wrote that before moving on to discuss this issue, principles for the debate should be set, and that compliance with these principles would allow us to have a reasonable discussion, without harming any side. However, on the day that article of mine was published, the Taraf daily published a document dated 2004 that shifted the debate entirely outside the sphere of education. The daily continues to publish new documents.

The claim is that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) made a deal with the generals during a meeting of the National Security Council (MGK) — an institution initially established after a coup d’état — in 2004 to “finish off” the Hizmet movement. The daily further suggests that the government’s recent plan to close the prep schools was part of this deal.

This news story was critical enough to overshadow the Hizmet movement’s well-justified objections to the government’s prep-school plan and give the debate a predominantly political/ideological aspect.

And this was what happened. Now, the prep-school issue is being debated not as a problem of education, but as a row between the government and the Hizmet movement. This is not good for the government or the Hizmet movement.

The Taraf daily’s claims should appear unreasonable to any person who has lived in Turkey for the last 10 years and followed the agenda during this time. It would be a mistake to explain the recent tension between the ruling AK Party and the Hizmet movement in the context of a period when the government was fighting a life-or-death struggle against subversive generals.

The document published by the Taraf daily was a routine tutelage activity and the government had to sign it because of pressure from the generals, who were plotting to overthrow the AK Party after it came to office in the wake of the coup of Feb. 28, 1997. The measures outlined in the document were not implemented, and the Hizmet movement has enjoyed its most comfortable time during the rule of the AK Party. The generals who signed that document are now in jail on charges of attempting to overthrow the government.

Then-Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül, who signed the document, had told Turkey’s missions abroad not to hinder the activities of the Hizmet movement or those of other religious communities. In the same period, the national security courses that portrayed the Hizmet movement as a threat to the state were abolished and all circulars and orders against religious communities — which were issued during the coup of Feb. 28 — were canceled.

If the Hizmet movement believes that the government’s plan for the prep schools is an ideologically motivated threat to its existence; and if it is, therefore, concerned, then the government must relieve the worries of this community. Otherwise, unfounded claims that would pit the Hizmet movement and the government against each other may evolve into a vicious confrontation.

I hope this crisis finds its proper course and is overcome.

Source: Today's Zaman , December 1, 2013


Related News

Fear and paranoia still stalk Turkey two months after the failed coup

The official government narrative is everywhere, from the Twitter accounts to the dominance of the state-affiliated and pro-government press and TV in the wake of media crackdowns. The same words and phrases have been repeated endlessly by the AKP and their supporters until they become almost meaningless – Get Gülen. Gülen. Gülen. We are democracy. Democracy. Democracy. That is how it is, and there is no room to consider anything else.

What else should Gülen say?

Fethullah Gülen’s stance on corruption and anti-democratic practices has never changed. Osman Şimşek, the editor of herkul.org, which broadcasts and publishes Gülen’s speeches, recently published a letter that Gülen sent to Erdoğan in May 2006. In the letter, Gülen warns the prime minister that his government had begun to deviate from its democratic line.

Opposition up in arms over Erdoğan’s badmouthing of Turkish schools abroad during visit to Ethiopia

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is pressing ahead with campaigning the closure of Turkish schools affiliated with the Gülen movement, also known as the Hizmet movement, inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, in African countries, causing a number of members of the opposition parties in Turkey to reacted against his move.

Turkish schools in Somalia won 22 medals in 2 years

Somalia has been struggling with civil war and drought for a long time, and Turkish schools have a special place in rebuilding the education system in the country, despite the fact that these schools were opened only two years ago. Nile Institutions have been active in Somalia for almost two years, but these institutions have achieved 22 medals in the international Olympics.

Man behind Gülen probe also filed complaints about PM Erdoğan

An investigation into Gülen was launched by an Ankara prosecutor’s office earlier this week following a complaint filed by C.O. The former noncommissioned officer told the media that his complaint against the scholar was based on a number of reports that had appeared in government newspapers. “I am basing my complaint on newspaper reports and my thoughts. I am unhappy. I do not want to be promoted in the media or become popular. I do not like things like this. I have also filed many criminal complaints against the prime minister,” he said.

Accused by Erdogan of plotting a coup, Hizmet movement fears for freedom in Turkey

The Hizmet is based on the idea of a “modern Islam compatible with democracy” that has been disseminated by Fethullah Gülen since the 1960’s. Gülen, now 75 years old, is a former imam, writer, thinker and teacher. He has been living in the US in volunteer exile since 1999, when he left Turkey due to successive military coups. Even from afar, Gülen keeps influencing thousands of Turks and Muslims around the world.

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

Erdoğan Is Destroying Turkey’s Hopes for Democracy

Prime Minister Erdogan’s Revenge

Festival atmosphere in Kimse Yok Mu town

Turkish experience in Sudan: making a difference

Erdoğan’s ‘non-precious’ loneliness

Fethullah Gulen’s Message on New Defamation Efforts by Erdogan Regime

Wiretapped recordings erased on orders of new police chief

Copyright 2022 Hizmet News