About the Report
This report discusses the history of the Hizmet movement and its establishment of schools around the world, specifically in Africa. Then it explores Erdoğan’s efforts to take over these schools, especially in weak African countries, by incentives or diplomatic pressure and to transfer their assets to the Maarif Foundation. The paper explains the nature of the Maarif Foundation, its aims, and relationship with the Turkish government, and also highlights some possible outcomes from this strange ‘deprivatisation’ move by the Turkish government.
The education initiatives and activities that underlie Hizmet movement’s activities can probably be considered as its core or spine. Participants have established schools, tuition centres, community centres, dialogue centres, and charities all around the world.
In the last five years, we have witnessed how Erdoğan has tried to suppress the Hizmet movement and its members, as well as other dissenting voices in Turkey. The Hizmet movement is strategically an important obstacle for Erdoğan as it addresses the same demographic groups as he does. Thus, Erdoğan cannot risk allowing this ‘dual narrative’; he needs to suffocate all alternative narratives. The process of silencing the opposition gained a very different pretext after the curious incident of the coup attempt on 15 July 2016. Erdoğan’s efforts against the movement both in Turkey and abroad proliferated with this new development.