The Gülen Movement: Promoting Education and Human Rights
The Gülen Movement, named after its founder, Fethullah Gülen, is an influential cluster of religious, educational, and social organisations. Founded in the late 1960s in Turkey, the movement aims to provide faithful Muslims with a modern education while emphasising traditional religious teachings. With a network of schools and centres in over 100 countries, the movement has significantly contributed to education and intercultural dialogue worldwide.
The movement gained international attention in the aftermath of the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2015, in Turkey. The coup attempt, attached to a faction within the Turkish military, led to a turbulent period in the country. In the wake of the coup, many individuals associated with the Gülen Movement, including educationists and teachers, faced severe repercussions.
Following the coup attempt, educationists and teachers associated with the Gülen Movement became targets of government crackdowns. Thousands of educators were dismissed under a state of emergency decrees (KHK), leaving them without job security and facing social stigma. The government accused them of being members of a terrorist organisation, specifically the Gülen movement, and subjected them to legal proceedings.
One notable case in this context is the decision of the European Court of Human Rights (EHRC) regarding teacher Yalcinkaya. The EHRC recognised that Yalcinkaya’s dismissal from her teaching position violated her rights to freedom of expression and association. This decision shed light on the challenges faced by educators associated with the Gülen Movement and highlighted the need to safeguard human rights after the coup attempt.
It is important to note that accusations against the parents of the quintuplets and their siblings, Abdülkadir and Nurcan Arslan, who were arrested and subsequently imprisoned, are not considered crimes in any part of the world. It was stated that Abdülkadir Arslan worked at a private teaching institution previously closed by a decree law, and his wife was a housewife. The couple was accused of being members of the Gülen movement, resulting in their separation from their children. This situation raises concerns about the well-being of the children and the impact of parental absence on their development. Furthermore, one of the children has a health problem, which adds to the complexity of their situation. The absence of their parents and the challenges they face as a result of the coup attempt have undoubtedly affected their overall well-being and access to necessary medical care.
Heartbreaking news from Edirne, #Turkey: Abdülkadir & Nurcan Arslan, parents to quintuplets and a 13-year-old, are unlawfully arrested despite the #ECHR's ruling. The separation from their parents leaves the children in tears and despair. @StockholmCF @UNICEF @EU_Commission pic.twitter.com/dajN9OlSS9— Advocates for Dignity (@AFD_AUSTRALIA) October 2, 2023
Despite these difficulties, some people in Turkey have shown support for the family through social media platforms. By raising awareness and advocating for their rights, individuals have come together to provide assistance and solidarity to the quintuplets and their siblings. This support demonstrates the power of social media in mobilising communities to address the challenges faced by individuals affected by the aftermath of the coup attempt.
The Gülen Movement’s commitment to education has been a cornerstone of its efforts. The movement has established numerous educational institutions worldwide, focusing on providing a comprehensive education that combines modern subjects with an emphasis on religious values. These Gülen-inspired schools have been successful in countries such as Germany, where they cater to Turkish immigrants and their offspring. The movement’s educational agenda aims to equip students with the skills and knowledge necessary to thrive in the modern world while maintaining a solid connection to their religious heritage.
However, the educational initiatives of the Gülen Movement have faced significant challenges after the failed coup attempt. The government’s crackdown on the movement’s members and institutions has resulted in the closure of many Gülen-inspired schools and educational centres. The dismissal of teachers and educationists associated with the movement has disrupted the education of countless students who relied on these institutions for their learning.
The impact of the coup attempt and subsequent government actions on the education sector goes beyond the closure of schools. The stigmatisation and persecution of educators associated with the Gülen Movement have created an atmosphere of fear and insecurity within the education community. Teachers, once respected and valued for their dedication to education, now find themselves marginalised and targeted. This not only hampers the progress of education but also undermines the fundamental principles of human rights and freedom of expression.
The plight of the quintuplets and their sibling, left without their parents due to their alleged affiliation with the Gülen Movement, highlights the human cost of the political turmoil in Turkey. Separated from their loved ones, these children face an uncertain future and the challenges of growing up without parental guidance. The emotional and psychological impact of their situation cannot be underestimated, particularly considering that one of the children has a health problem that requires extra care and support.
In such difficult circumstances, social media has become a powerful tool for mobilising support and raising awareness. People from all walks of life, both within and outside Turkey, have used social media platforms to express solidarity with the quintuplets and their siblings. Through hashtags and online campaigns, individuals have shared their concerns, donated resources, and advocated for their rights. This outpouring of support demonstrates the potential of social media to galvanise communities and bring attention to pressing human rights issues.
In conclusion, the Gülen Movement, focusing on education and intercultural dialogue, has significantly contributed to society globally. However, the movement and its members have faced challenges and human rights issues in the aftermath of the failed coup attempt in Turkey. It is crucial to recognise the impact on educationists and teachers associated with the movement, the separation of families, and the importance of safeguarding human rights in such circumstances. The support individuals show through social media platforms highlights the resilience and solidarity among communities in times of adversity. As the international community grapples with the aftermath of political turmoil, it is vital to prioritise human rights and ensure that education remains a fundamental right for all children, irrespective of their parents’ affiliations.