Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Following State of Emergency, Erdogan’s First Target is Cleansing the Education Sector | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Supporters of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan cheer at the Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, Turkey July 16, 2016. REUTERS/Huseyin Aldemir – RTSI8H0

Ankara – It remains clear now that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s first objective in his cleansing of the education sector campaign, launched following the coup attempt. In his first decree
signed on Saturday, the Turkish President authorized the suspension of more than 21,000 teachers and the closure of 1043 schools, 1229 charities and foundations, 19 educational unions and federations, 15 universities and 35 medical institutions.

Erdogan said he was cleansing all institutions in his country from supporters of the Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETO). Fethullah Gulen is a U.S.-based Muslim cleric accused by Ankara of orchestrating the July 15 coup attempt.

He said: “FETO has been infiltrating in the military and security institutions, as well as ministers, for the past 40 years. It now looks like a cancerous tumor even inside the private sector.” The President said all steps taken during the state of emergency, announced in Ankara last Wednesday, would insure a solution to this problem.

In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, former Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said “Turkey will continue its campaign to defend democracy,” adding that military coups in Turkey have become a part of history, and that “Turks now bet on it in the streets and fields.”

Davutoglu’s comments came amid Western concerns about the scale of Turkey’s cleansing and arrest campaign, particularly in the education sector. “European countries apply the state of emergency in events with less importance compared to what lately happened in Turkey,” he said.

Davutoglu said despite the criticisms, “Turkey has not violated the constitution or the laws.” The former prime minister said “Turkey will take the necessary measures against those traitors who have no nation left on this territory after today.”

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli criticized Turkey’s allies for their “weak” condemning of plotters. He said: “FETO has been infiltrating in the country’s ministries, institutions and private sector for the past 40 years. Therefore, the matter is not restricted to the judiciary, courts, police and army.

It also involves the education sector. Or we can even say (the plotters) have succeeded to infiltrate in the education sector more than in other fields. What has been uncovered until now is only the summit of a frozen mountain.”

On Saturday, the Turkish authorities continued their campaign to arrest military personnel accused by Ankara of having links to the July 15 coup attempt. Until yesterday, the authorities had arrested 133 generals and admirals, of whom 126 have been formally arrested pending further investigation. Security sources said that the court has issued a decision to arrest 283 from the 300 presidential guard officers.

On Friday, during a visit to Parliament, Erdogan was welcomed by police officers instead of the presidential guard. Also, Turkey has freed 1,200 soldiers detained after the failed military coup, Ankara’s chief prosecutor Harun Kodalak said on Saturday.

Kodalak told the Turkish Anadolu news agency: “Those Turkish soldiers were not involved in the coup attempt.”

He said: “We are talking about soldiers who did not understand what was happening and those who had not fired on the people during the coup attempt.”

Kodalak added there were still many soldiers under arrest. “We will work quickly to free those who were deluded to commit error.”