Gülenist schools under probe as police launches new operations

Published 18.08.2015 21:07
Updated 19.08.2015 00:03
The exterior of a school operated by Gülenists. The Yamanlar College was among schools raided by police on Tuesday in an operation against the Gülen Movement.
The exterior of a school operated by Gülenists. The Yamanlar College was among schools raided by police on Tuesday in an operation against the Gülen Movement.

Police raided several schools linked to the shady Gülen Movement in western Turkey yesterday and detained nine people in the latest string of operations against the movement which is accused of terror activities and fraud

The security forces extended dragnet against the "parallel state," -the name given to the covert network of controversial Gülen Movement- to schools linked to the movement in the western city of İzmir yesterday. On the orders of the prosecutor's office, police raided 29 schools in the city and detained nine suspects accused of aiding and abetting a terrorist organization and fraud and forgery in official documents. All detainees are executives at schools affiliated with the Gülen Movement. The prosecutor also issued a detention warrant for six other suspects who remain at large. The movement, now referred to as the "Fethullahist terror organization" in investigations, after its leader Fethullah Gülen, is accused of attempting to overthrow the government through its infiltrators in the police, judiciary and bureaucracy.

In the early hours of yesterday, police squads searched the schools for evidence of financial fraud and other possible illegal activities of the movement. Eight suspects have been charged with forgery of official documents such as forging a false approval of schools' compliance with fire safety rules and unlawful expansion of school facilities among other charges.

One of the places the police raided was Yamanlar College, a renowned school linked to the movement. The police searched a room at the school once occupied by Fethullah Gülen himself before he left for Pennsylvania, in the U.S., where he currently resides. The room was later allocated to Bekir Baz, an "imam" or point man for the Gülen Movement for İzmir and other cities in western Turkey. Baz was coordinating the movement's activities in the region including blackmailing and threatening local officials to work for the interests of the movement, according to media outlets. Like Gülen, Bekir Baz moved to the U.S. last year after the government stepped up operations against Gülenists.

Yamanlar College caused controversy last year when a student claimed teachers at the school continuously disseminated anti-government propaganda.

The Gülen Movement has launched a series of public attacks against the government in the past two years. The government's decision to shut down prep schools, most of which are operated by the movement, enraged Gülenists. Gülenist propaganda against the government later spread to prep schools and dormitories run by the movement. Students claimed they were forced to watch anti-government videos and send tweets defaming the government and when they refused, they were expelled.

Schools linked to the Gülen Movement are used as recruitment hubs by the movement, which, through its connections within the state, wields significant clout in Turkey. Gülenists now face a massive purge thanks to the government efforts to weed out the movement's followers from state institutions.

Security forces have launched a nationwide clampdown on Gülenists this year with operations targeting NGOs and schools linked to the movement becoming almost a daily routine. They are mostly charged with financial crimes such as running a fundraising scheme that funneled the funds collected for charitable causes to the movement's activities.

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