March 18, 2015

Fetih Education Institute demands reparations from Erdoğan for discrediting remarks

Fetih Öğretim İşletmeleri, a private education institute, has filed a complaint against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for his remarks aimed at discrediting the institution following sweeping graft probes that went public in December 2013.

In its application for a lawsuit to the İstanbul Commercial Court of First Instance in session at the time, the Fetih Öğretim İşletmeleri demanded a total of TL 120,000 in material and moral indemnities, noting that the institution has had to face unfair competition because of Erdoğan's remarks.

It was also demanded in the application that the verdict the court will deliver be published in the three Turkish dailies with the highest national circulation.

Following the two graft probes, Erdoğan has claimed that the corruption investigations were designed to be a coup plot against the government, dismissing, despite ample evidence, all charges of corruption.

Erdoğan, who was then prime minister, also claimed without providing any solid evidence that the Gülen movement, also known as the Hizmet movement, was behind the probes. Fethullah Gülen, a respected US-based Turkish Islamic scholar who is the inspiration for the movement, denies any link with the corruption probe.

Erdoğan then attacked Fetih Öğretim İşletmeleri, which has obtained many national and international prizes in its field, claiming that it is affiliated with the Gülen movement.

Erdoğan specifically targeted the education institution during the election campaign ahead of the local elections in March of last year, calling on people not to send their children to schools that are a part of Fetih Öğretim İşletmeleri.

As part of efforts to damage and finally destroy all Hizmet movement-affiliated institutions, the government launched a witch-hunt that also included Turkish schools that have been operating around the world for more than a decade, in some cases for more than 20 years.

During a visit to several African countries at the end of January, Erdoğan asked the leaders of the countries to shut down these schools, promising them the Turkish Ministry of Education will open newer and higher-quality schools.

Erdoğan and other political figures within the government try to justify their smear campaigns against the schools by claiming that these schools are an extension of the "parallel state"-- a term coined by Erdoğan for any individual, civil society group or even state agency that refuses to participate in government wrongdoings.

Published on Today's Zaman, 18 March 2015, Wednesday