June 30, 2014

Başakşehir Municipality removes Fatih College's advertising

Despite growing reaction to the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality's removal of signs from the Fem prep school in İstanbul's Mecidiyeköy district last week, the Başakşehir Municipality has taken similar action and ordered the removal of billboard advertising featuring the success of Fatih College students on the Undergraduate Placement Examination (LYS) and in the Turkish Olympiad.

The ads, which were located in three different locations in Başakşehir, were removed over the weekend, although Fatih College had rented them from Medya Pano Advertising last year for one-year period.

The billboards said things like: “The Fatih [conqueror] of the Olympiads. 526 national and international medals won. Nine top students in the LYS.”

Reportedly disturbed by the ads, the Başakşehir Municipality put pressure on the advertising company to remove them, according to what Today's Zaman has learned. Officials from the company who met with administrators from Fatih College requested the cancellation of their agreement, or and said that otherwise they would have to remove the ads. When the Fatih College administrators did not agree to cancel the contract, the ads were taken down. The school's administrators told Today's Zaman that they will take legal action.

Last Wednesday, the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality removed a sign from the Fem prep school in Mecidiyeköy on the grounds that the school had violated the municipality's advertising regulations. However, many believe the real reason was because the prep school is affiliated with a social movement Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan does not approve of.

The Fem prep schools and Fatih College are close to the faith-based Hizmet movement, which is inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen. Erdoğan has accused the Hizmet movement of being behind a massive corruption investigation that he claims is a coup attempt intended to overthrow his Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government, although the prime minister has not been able to produce any evidence to justify his claims.

Municipal police teams also removed the sign of the Anafen prep school that is in the same building as the Fem prep school in Mecidiyeköy over the weekend. Signage belonging to some other businesses was also removed.

Municipality gets revenue from signboards

Although the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality has removed signs from the Fem and Anafen prep schools, it continues to receive a significant amount of revenue from local businesses.

The municipality enacted a regulation in 2005 banning the use of signage on the top floor of buildings that are used as residences or workplaces. Despite this regulation, however, such signage is common but none of these signs appear to have been removed so far.

When the Fem prep school in Mecidiyeköy was established in 2011, it applied to the municipality for permission to put up a sign. The municipality's response was that the municipality cannot give permission to use any signs but that the prep school could put up a sign without any problem.

The municipality has received more than TL10,000 from the prep school over the past three years as advertisement revenue and it is getting tens of millions of Turkish lira from other workplaces, as well.

Published on Sunday's Zaman, 29 June 2014, Sunday

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