December 9, 2014

Mufti's office attempts to evict educational group from Antalya center

The office of the mufti in the Muratpaşa district of the southern province of Antalya issued an order on Monday evicting a group affiliated with the Hizmet movement from its educational center, a building it has the legal right to use until 2017.

The Durmazlar Group Educational Center, which operates under the Antalya-based Hamle Educational Centers, was the latest target of Antalya officials on Monday. Four educational centers of the Hamle group have been sealed by municipality officials for allegedly lacking the necessary permits.

Officials from the Muratpaşa Mufti's Office ordered the eviction of the Durmazlar Group Educational Center, although the protocol the center signed with the Religious Affairs Directorate gives it the right to use the building it is in until 2017. The mufti's office said they would use police force if the center's administrators fail to comply with their order.

However, hours after the eviction was ordered, the center's administrators obtained an injunction on the Muratpaşa Mufti's Office's decision from a local court.

Hamle Group Deputy Chairman Ali Dil underlined that the center has the legal right to use the building until 2017 based on the protocol it had signed. “When we talked to jurists, they said this protocol cannot be canceled without a court ruling,” he said.

The educational centers targeted in Antalya are close to Hizmet, a movement inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has accused the Hizmet movement of being behind a massive corruption investigation. He claims that the investigation was an attempt to overthrow his Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government, although he has not been able to produce any evidence to justify his claims.

In May, Erdoğan, who was prime minister at the time, publicly asked his 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.

Erdoğan had also ordered officials at municipalities run by the AK Party to use any means to seize land and buildings belonging to Hizmet.

Similar moves recently targeted institutions close to Hizmet in other parts of Turkey. In July, the Bolu Municipality sealed two schools belonging to businessmen close to the movement. 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. The municipality failed to obtain the required approval from other authorities in the province to halt the construction of the education complex. The complex belongs to Fetih Eğitim İşletmeleri (Fetih Educational Operations), which has close ties to the Hizmet movement.

Published on Cihan, 09 December 2014, Tuesday