Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, said on Tuesday during a visit to Johannesburg that volunteers working for the faith-based Gülen movement -- inspired by the teachings of Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen -- should continue to build schools and other institutions in Africa.
Dlamini-Zuma was visiting the Nizamiye Külliyesi, an Ottoman-style mosque complex that was built in the South African city of Johannesburg in 2013 and sponsored by Turkish businessman Ali Katırcıoğlu.
During the visit, Zuma was accompanied by Katırcıoğlu and many other Turkish education volunteers. She said: “I've been following this enormous project. However, I didn't think it would turn out to be perfect like this. Whenever I see this mosque, I remember what a great religion Islam is. I understand the importance of your movement better lately after seeing how all those terrorist attacks conducted in the name of Islam damage the image of the religion. [Terrorist organizations such as] Boko Haram, al-Qaeda and [the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant] ISIL cause the religion of Islam to be misunderstood.”
Expressing confidence in the Turkish volunteers of the Gülen movement, Zuma added: “You are regarded as South Africans now. I have huge confidence in you. We are ready to do our best so that you can open more schools and other voluntary institutions [in Africa].”
Zuma asked Turkish volunteers to help improve the quality of a school where she and a number of South African presidents and ministers were educated, stating that the volunteers are very successful in the field of education. According to a recent cooperation contract signed between Turkish charity Kimse Yok Mu and the AU, a total of 1,000 schools will be built across Africa by the charity organization.
Before leaving the mosque complex, Zuma said she had enjoyed the visit. “This will not be my last visit. I'll come here again together with my family. I would like to invite you to Ethiopia [the headquarters of the AU]. I would like to host you as my special guests.”
Zuma was awarded the Fethullah Gülen Peace and Dialogue Award during the eighth annual Ubuntu Lecture and Dialogue Awards ceremony held in Johannesburg in September.
Published on Today's Zaman, 25 November 2015, Wednesday