Erdoğan’s Islamist Maarif Foundation pushes further to replace Gülen science schools in Africa

A Turkish state-run educational foundation has signed memorandums of understanding with 26 countries in Africa to take control of schools belonging to people from the faith-based Gülen movement, the state-run Anadolu news agency (AA) reported on Saturday.

“We have signed protocols with 26 countries in Africa, and 16 of them have so far transferred the schools. We are continuing to provide education to 8,900 students,” said Hasan Yavuz, a board member of the Maarif Foundation.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government established the Maarif Foundation in 2016 to take over the administration of overseas schools linked to the Gülen movement. The movement has many schools and universities set-up in more than 160 countries.

According to the AA, 30 African countries have handed over Gülen movement schools to Maarif or closed them down at Ankara’s request.

The Maarif Foundation is claimed to have been established to spread Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Islamist ideology abroad.

İsmet Yılmaz, the education minister, on June 16, 2016 in Parliament said that the foundation was owned by the state and would serve as his ministry’s arm abroad in providing educational services. He described the initiative as proof of the Turkish state’s ambition to project greater power in the world and maintained that Turkey follows in British and American footsteps in that sense.

“Erdoğan posits himself to be the caliph, the leader of all Muslims in the world, and sees the Maarif Foundation as a tool in his investment efforts to reach out to non-Turkish Muslim groups,” wrote TM columnist Abdullah Bozkurt.

Erdoğan has aimed at to replace the positive contributions of the schools opened by the Gülen (a.k.a. Hizmet) movement in Africa to preventing clashes in countries, where there is Christian-Muslim tension, with radical Islamist rhetoric and thus will create conflict rather than dialogue in African countries, stated a report recently released by London-based Center for Hizmet Studies.

A report titled “The Turbulence between AKP and Hizmet: The African Case“, penned by academic Erkan Toğuşlu, a director in Gülen Chair for Intercultural Studies at KU Leuven University, has analyzed the possible results of probable transfers of the schools opened by Gülen movement to the Maarif Foundation which was established by Erdoğan regime to take over the schools abroad opened and operated by the movement.

The report also draw attention to the potential vacuum after closure or transfer of the schools opened and operated in African countries and stated that the countries that close the schools down will confront a set of problems in the immediate future.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempton July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15, 2016. Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since July 2016. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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