Following the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality and Güngören Municipality's decision to build a road within the courtyard of a private school affiliated with the Hizmet movement this week, the school management made a statement on Friday, saying that the parents of students at the school find the decision nonsensical.
Merter Fatih Koleji, a private high school that has been serving the community for 20 years, said in an official statement that the destruction of the school courtyard by the road is against the public good.
The statement read that the school building had been transferred from the Private Şener High School in 1995 and its courtyard had been used until 2000. Due to changes to the municipality's road plans, the space has become smaller and the municipality has built a new wall for the courtyard.
According to some parents of students at Merter Fatih Koleji, a successful school whose students have won awards in national and international competitions, it is “nonsensical" to destroy a school courtyard to build a road.
The school also noted that it has paid all its dues to the municipality on time and in full.
The Bolu Municipality, having previously closed down two schools belonging to businesspeople affiliated with the faith-based Hizmet movement in early July, has also constructed a road inside the garden of a Fatih Koleji despite the fact that the school is surrounded by empty plots of land and no residential area exists around the school. The closed schools are close to the Hizmet movement, which is inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen.
In May, Erdoğan publicly advised Justice and Development Party (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 AK Party-run municipalities to seize land and buildings belonging to the Hizmet movement by any means.
The closure of two Hizmet-affiliated schools in Bolu in July followed similar moves in other parts of Turkey. In early June, the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality stopped the construction of an education complex on privately owned land on the pretext that the land was to be designated a green area and meeting point in the event of an earthquake. The municipality, however, failed to obtain the required approval from other authorities in the province to halt the construction of the education complex. They said the complex belonged to Fetih Eğitim İşletmeleri (Fetih Educational Operations), which has close ties to the Hizmet movement.
The municipality, also in July, removed a sign advertising the Fem prep school, which helps students prepare for their university entrance exams, in İstanbul's Mecidiyeköy neighborhood. The real reason behind the municipality's decision was said to be because Fem is affiliated with the Hizmet movement.
Published on Today's Zaman, 29 August 2014, Friday