July 7, 2014

State institution turns intern away due to links with Hizmet

The Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) witch hunt against the Hizmet movement has reached interns in state institutions after one student was turned away after his links to the movement were discovered.

Today's Zaman has learned that earlier this year a student from Galatasaray University applied to a state institution, which we prefer not to name, for an internship. His application was subsequently accepted and the student recently began working at the institution. He was warmly welcomed, being a successful student at his university that he had entered with a high grade from the Undergraduate Placement Examination (LYS).

The young man was supposed to work as an intern for three months, but his experience was shorter than expected -- only one day.

A supervisor at the institution ordered an inquiry into the student's background and found that the student had attended a prep school run by the faith-based Hizmet movement, which is inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen. Rumors arose that the movement had sent the student to spy on the institution and collect intelligence about it and its employees. The findings and rumors were reported to a high-level bureaucrat who immediately ordered that the student be fired. Officials at the institution told the student that he had begun his internship earlier than planned and, if needed, the institution would call him to continue his internship later.

The Hizmet movement promotes interfaith dialogue and the resolution of problems through peaceful means internationally. However, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has been fighting against Hizmet. This conflict intensified after Dec. 17, 2013, when a major government graft operation became public. The prime minister claims the operation was orchestrated by the Hizmet movement and intended to overthrow his government. He has not provided any evidence to prove his claim. The movement denies the accusation.

Since Dec. 17, more than 20,000 police officers, bureaucrats, judges and prosecutors have been reassigned for no official reason other than their suspected links to the Hizmet movement.

In a public address in May, the prime minister effectively confessed carrying out a witch hunt. When commenting on the reassignments the prime minister -- without providing the slightest shred of evidence -- accused the reassigned officers of “betraying Turkey” for their suspected alliances with the Hizmet movement, which he currently views as “enemy number one. … If reassigning individuals who betray this country is called a witch hunt, then, yes, we will carry out a witch hunt,” Erdoğan said.

Published on Today's Zaman, 07 July 2014, Monday