The award ceremony of a short film contest organized by the Ministry of Education has been canceled after the contest was won by Seleme Gülen, a relative of Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, whose ideas inspired the faith-based Hizmet movement.
The award, which comes with a cash prize of TL 15,000, was to be represented to the winner with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Education Minister Ömer Dinçer and other high-ranking government officials in attendance, prior to being canceled.
In her short film, titled “Apprenticeship,” Gülen highlighted the process of beginning training in the workplace.
Ministry of Education officials have been pursuing a comprehensive investigation to check whether the winners of contests held by government institutions are affiliated with the Hizmet movement, and the realization that Seleme Gülen was a relative of the Hizmet leader resulted in the cancellation of the ceremony.
The award of TL 15,000 has not yet been presented to Seleme Gülen.
Systematic smear campaign conducted against Hizmet
Prime Minister Erdoğan has recently been at odds with Fethullah Gülen and the Hizmet movement, which he accuses of being behind a massive corruption investigation which became public on Dec. 17, 2013 in which dozens of bureaucrats and businessmen with close links to the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) were detained on corruption and bribery accusations. The prime minister claims that the investigation was part of an attempt to overthrow his AK Party government, although he has not been able to produce any evidence to justify his claims.
In addition, since the major corruption investigation, Erdoğan has continuously referred to Hizmet as a terrorist organization that, acting on the orders of foreign powers, is trying to stage a coup against him. He has even likened Hizmet volunteers to hashish-consuming assassins, but has not yet provided any evidence for these claims and accusations, either.
In May, the prime minister publicly asked AK Party supporters not to send their children to schools affiliated with the Hizmet movement. “We will not even give water to them [Hizmet members],” he vowed.
More recently, Erdoğan ordered officials at municipalities run by the AK Party to seize land and buildings belonging to Hizmet by any means. On Friday of last week, the Bolu Municipality closed down two schools belonging to businessmen affiliated with Hizmet. In early June, the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality stopped the construction of an education complex on privately owned land on the pretext that the land would be used as a green area and a gathering spot in the event of an earthquake.
Published on Today's Zaman, 15 July 2014, Tuesday