South Africa is a good example of a country that has not been pressured into adopting the narrative touted by the Turkish government. Local politicians, students and academics regularly acknowledge the Hizmet Movement’s altruistic activities in the country.
Gulenist businessman Nevi Gozur says he has been denounced as a terrorist for the charity work his family does with Hizmet in exile. “They say even my wife is a terrorist, for giving food to the poor, but we won’t renounce living according to our values,” he said.
Gulen claimed that [Erdogan turn against Hizmet and accuse it of plotting the failed coup] because he had refused Erdogan’s appeal to use the domestic and international Hizmet network as a propaganda tool to present himself as leader of Islam, at home and abroad. “But Hizmet rejected him and so Erdogan was angry,” Gulen said.
The agenda of the Turkish authorities [against Hizmet] goes far beyond the attempted coup, it is about the need to neutralise a movement that became a political threat when its followers within the judiciary and police started exposing corruption within the government’s ruling inner circle in December 2013.
The Hizmet Movement, founded by exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, hosted a panel discussion by its South African branch last weekend. The purpose of the event was to clarify misconceptions about the movement and its involvement in the current political situation in Turkey.
The main issue Erdogan raises with his African counterparts is not improving economic and political relations, but the closure of the Gulen movement schools or their transfer to the Turkish Maarif Foundation, which was established solely for this purpose. Mr. Erdogan seems to be using official development assistances and “other financial tools” as carrots to convince African leaders.
South Africans know what it means to be detained without trial and tortured. With that history in mind, the ANC-led government is not about to extradite a list of Turkish expats working in South Africa to Turkey, where their detention and torture is likely.
Turkish businessmen fleeing arrest in their country for links to an alleged terrorist organisation are trying to set up a new life and open companies in South Africa. Speaking on condition of anonymity to Weekend Argus, a few of the businessmen explained how the Turkish government seized their homes and businesses. The businessmen say some of their families are still at risk back home.
The initiative originated in Turkey and is the largest and most prominent organisation for promoting world languages and cultures. It is dedicated to cultivating and educating the youth and creating a platform for them to share their cultural heritage with their peers around the world.
Speaking during the 13th edition of the International Festival of Language and Culture at Nelson Mandela Theatre on Thursday evening, Mbete, who was guest of honour, said rather than seeing people fight, she would love to see them sing and dance. She said she was delighted to be part of the event.