“These schools are like shop windows. Recruitment and Islamization activities are carried out through night classes … Children whom we educated in Turkey are now in the highest positions. There are governors, judges, military officers. There are ministers in the government. They consult Gülen before doing anything.”
~ Nurettin Veren.

A little over a week ago, I wrote about the activities of the Gülen movement in Central Asia–among other regional actors. In order to “infect” a region, the Fethullahçı take over education, particularly the education of the children of a society’s elites. Cadres of Fethullahçı businessmen permeate the economy, spreading Gülen’s version of Islam, which is inseparably intwined with Turkish nationalism, and serve as conduits to funnel money into the movement.

Now it would appear that the same tactics are being used in South Kurdistan, from Özgür Gündem:

The Federal Region of Kurdistan Wrapped Up in the Movement

Since the beginning of the 1990s, universities, associations, foundations, hospitals, and language centers, which belong to the Fethullah Gülen movement, have been opened in Central Asia. Such schools must fall under the National Education Ministry and must be evaluated by it. Instead, they are being evaluated by the National Security Council (MGK) and the National Intelligence Organization (MİT). In addition, MİT is one of the primary organizations that supports this movement.

Additionally, it is very well known by everyone that the Gülen movement’s schools in Uzbekistan were shut down in 1999-2000. The reason for the shutting down of these schools was that the people who were working in them became directly involved with the assassination attempt against Uzbekistan’s president, Islam Kerimov.

The Russian Security Service revealed the relationship of the movement, which founded schools and foundations in this country, with MİT. They [the movement] were implementing ideological work as well as trying to form a Turkish lobby in the regions in which they were located. Thus the movement’s schools, foundations, associations, and business in Russia were shut down and their employees were deported by the Russian Security Service.

The Gülen movement started to open “education” associations in the Federal Kurdistan Region since 1994, and it is still conducting its activities there. It is obvious that these foundations and associations ideologically conduct Turanism and Pan-Turkism in the Federal Kurdistan Region. Despite the fact that the movement’s racial, imperialist, and invasive activities were banned by several states, who are allowing it to conduct its activities in the Federal Kurdistan Region? Who is turning a blind eye? Again, additionally, who is getting an advantage out of it and of what kind, are the questions that must be answered.

Teaching in English language in Gülen’s schools causes an increase their demand. In addition, there are increasing demands for lessons to be taught in Arabic and Kurdish Sorani dialect in elementary and middle schools. However, the reality of these schools is different. Although in the schools’ records English is indicated as the official language, in reality lessons are being conducted in Turkish. To see this reality, it is enough to check the weekly lesson schedules. Turkish, Turkish grammar, and Turkish history lessons make up the greatest amount of the existing lessons in high schools, in addition to elementary and middle schools.

The movement finalized work to open a school in Kerkuk in 2006. However, the movement’s members met PUK’s high administrators and the Federal Kurdistan Region Vice*President, Kosrat Rasul, to open new schools in the city. After conveying their thanks to each other, the representatıve of Gülen’s schools (responsible for all Gulen schools), Muammer Turk, and [Kurdish] officials agreed on the new projects for Kerkuk.

The Gülen Movement’s Schools Opened in the Federal Kurdistan Region:


1- Fezalar Eğitim Kurumu
2- Işık Dil Merkezi
3- Işık İlköğretim Okulu
4- Nilüfer Kız Koleji
5- Işık Erkek Koleji
6- Işık Üniversitesi


1- Süleymaniye Kız Koleji
2- Selahattin Eyyubi Erkek Koleji
3- Selahattin Eyyubi Dil Merkezi

In Kerkuk also there is one school and one language center.

In the movement’s schools, [there are] celebrations like 23 April (Children’s Day and Republic Day) and 19 May (Youth and Sport Day), and the [Turkish] national anthem is memorized. Celebrations are held in the schools’ yards and the students’ guardians are also invited. However, neither the Kurdish national anthem “Ey Reqib” is sung nor are official holidays of federal Kurdistan celebrated.

Meanwhile Atatürk’s pictures are put in the schools. It disturbs Kurdish students and their guardians to make students memorize Turkish history and Atatürk’s life. However, the students’ guardians want the regional government to take precautions about these issues.

These schools also have activities about Turkey. Some of the students of these schools are taken to Turkey for sightseeing once a year wıth the goal of “introducing Turkey and improving sympathy for Turkey”; however the real goal is known by the students’ guardians. The chosen students are taken to vacation resorts and camps. It is not a secret that ideological education is given to them under the name of “vacation”.

The movement’s activities are not limited to these, of course. Every Thursday, “reading” and “regional conversations” are held with some students and their guardians. Through such activities, that aim to form a mass movement, the Fethullahçıs made a remarkable improvement. Despite all these activities, the turning of a blind eye by the KRG creates several questions.

Hewler is one of the cities on which the Fethullahçıs are most focused. In addition to school activities, an important improvement is just as much the case in the field of health. For this goal, Sema Hospital was opened in “Doctors’ Street” in Hewler in 2006. This hospital, in addition to being a laser eye center, treats people with internal diseases. The hospital has a 50% off promotion for people who are close to Gülen’s movement. For teachers, officials, and students who are working in the movement’s associations, treatment is free.

Another movement “organization” in Hewler is Atasay Jewelry. Opened late due to not getting permission from the government, it was officially opened in recent months. The function of Atasay Jewelry for the Gülen movement is to conduct money transfers between Iraq and Turkey. It transfers the revenue received by the movement, specifically from the federal Kurdistan area, to Turkey or to other countries.

The majority of the students who attend Gülen movement schools are either Turkmen children and the children of high-level KRG officials. Some of the students who graduate from these schools are sent to Turkey to “continue their education”. These students are placed in the universities under the quota such universities dedicate to the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) [i.e these students are counted in TSK’s quota]. They [the students] are admitted to universities especially in Ankara and Kayseri. The number of the TSK quota that is being spared for Gülen’s movement changes every year. Students sent from the Federal Kurdistan Region receive “other education” in addition to their university education. Students receive their education through TSK’s and MİT’s scholarships; whenever they finish their university education and go back to federal Kurdistan, they start working in the Iraqi Turkmen Front, Turkmen TV, radio, or cultural associations.

Another group of students who attend such schools are the children of high officials of the KRG. The existence of these students is important for the movement in order to get their [official] work done more easily.

Another group that is used by the movement is businessmen from Turkey. Gülen’s schools are the first schools applied for by some of these businessmen, for their children’s educations. In their internal discussions, officials in the movement consult with businessmen coming from Turkey for implementing their new projects. That is, having their children in Gülen’s schools for their education is not the only reason to make contact with the movement. For getting their children’s education in these schools, these businessmen contribute great help both in the Federal Kurdistan Region and in Turkey.

What kind of money are we talking about, with regard to Turkish businessmen who support the movement? Ten to seventy percent:

We asked the group of a dozen businessmen in Ankara whether each of them contributes financially to Gülen-inspired projects and, if so, approximately how much they give each year. Each of the 12 men said that they contribute as they can to the movement projects. Amounts of contributions varied from 10%-70% of their annual income, ranging from $20,000-$300,000 per year. One man, in particular, said he gives 40% of his income every year which is about $100,000; however, he said he would like to give 95% but is not able to do so and still maintain himself and his family.

[ . . . ]

Another very successful businessman in Istanbul whom we interviewed provided insight into the sums of money being contributed by the supporters of the Gülen Movement to local projects. He is 48 years old and is in the textile business. He contributes 20% of his 4-5 million dollar yearly income to movement-related projects. 80% of his good friends are also members of the movement and contribute as they can to projects.

We’re talking some serious coin here, and this is in addition to the problematic issue of spreading Turkish nationalist ideology.

The questions that Goran Akreyi raises in the article most definitely need answers. Sooner rather than later.


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