A total of 129 waqfs, affiliated with the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) have been shut down and more than 2,000 properties belonging to these waqfs have been transferred to the Directorate General of Foundations, said Director for Foundations Adnan Ertem. He further said that the income from the seized properties will be used for charity in fields such as education, health and social benefits to people living in Turkey. Ertem spoke to Anadolu Agency to offer insights about the shutdown of FETÖ waqfs and their future. He claimed that closing waqfs and foundations, which are very important elements for FETÖ in terms of finance and social influence, is an important step to take following the attempted coup orchestrated by the terror group. "What is very good is that the waqfs, whether they are affiliated with FETÖ or not, have been handed over to our institution. It is important for us to act delicately in order to keep waqfs and the spirit of waqfs alive," Ertem said.
The government signed regulations that ordered the shutdown of a total of 104 waqfs managed by FETÖ members. Currently the Directorate General of Foundations is working on 25 more waqfs that are suspected to be linked to the terror group. The properties belonging to FETÖ waqfs will be transferred to the Directorate General of Foundations while the properties of waqf universities that have already been shut down will be transferred to the state treasury. The directorate is investigating the waqfs according to evidence and decides whether the waqfs are affiliated to FETÖ or not.
Ertem also provided information about the FETÖ waqfs' properties that have been seized by the directorate. "There are more than 2,000 properties varying from empty land to commercial places such as restaurants, dormitories, schools, stores and even a treadmill… We create a budget for our charity work annually. We are currently offering scholarships to 6,000 students. Thanks to the FETÖ properties handed over to us, we might be able to give scholarships to 7,000 or even 7,500 students next year," Ertem added.
Stating that waqfs are institutions that aim to do charity work, Ertem said: "The income that we gain from these properties will be spent to charity. No one can establish a waqf for financial profit. We will keep these commercial properties as they are; however, their income will be used for charity works."
After being asked about FETÖ's use of waqfs for terrorist activities, Ertem said the very core meaning of waqfs is violated by using them as tools for terrorist actions. "It is not logical to establish a waqf, collect people's money in the name of charity and use them as a tool for terrorism. If you do this under the name of a waqf, you violate the very meaning of it."
He said that they will do everything in their power to reestablish the reputation of waqfs. "Waqfs are institutions that do charity work. The properties that have been seized as part of the FETÖ investigation were built with people's money; in other words, they are public property. What we have to do is put these properties to the good use of people who are in need."