Turkey votes to close anti-Erdogan schools

2014-03-01 22:03
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (Yoshikazu Tsuno, AFP)

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (Yoshikazu Tsuno, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Istanbul - Turkey's parliament has voted to close private preparatory schools, many of which are a source of income and influence for an Islamic cleric accused by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan of covertly seeking to topple him.

Lawmakers late on Friday set a deadline of 1 September 2015, to shut the schools, news channels reported. Millions of students prepare at the centres for entrance examinations to win limited spots at state high schools and universities.

Erdogan has accused cleric Fethullah Gulen, whose followers wield influence in the police and judiciary, of concocting a graft scandal to compromise his government. The scandal broke with police raids on 17 December, but ties between the ex-allies have been tense in recent years.

"Pull your kids out, if they go to these schools. State schools are enough," Erdogan told a campaign rally before a 30 March election in the western town of Denizli on Saturday.

"They have sucked like leeches. Leeches are more virtuous: leeches suck dirty blood, while they suck clean blood and hold sessions cursing me, my wife, my children, my administration."

Damning audio recordings

The government moved to shut down the cram centres in November, worsening the public row with Gulen's followers.

The local election next month is seen as a critical test of support for Erdogan after 11 years in power.
Last week, audio recordings purportedly of Erdogan and his son Bilal discussing moving large sums of money and accepting bribes were leaked on the internet.

Erdogan has said the audio was manipulated, and on Saturday suggested Gulen was behind the "conspiracy".

"Listening to my phone is forbidden. They listened to me, the president, my family," Erdogan said at the rally.

"Now they've been caught. We are going into their lairs. It will take time but we will begin a new era with the votes we win on 30 March."


Police used tear gas to disperse anti-government protests in Istanbul and the capital Ankara. Such demonstrations have become frequent occurrences in city centres in the last few weeks.

Riot police chased dozens of protesters in a residential area near Istanbul's Taksim Square. Undercover police grabbed some of them, handcuffed them and took pictures of them.

Education is central to the mission of US-based Gulen's Hizmet, or Service, movement. Its respected prep schools help spread influence across a nationwide network, and shutting them will deprive Hizmet of a chief source of financing.

Followers of Gulen, who preaches respect for science, democracy and dialogue with other faiths, have forged a powerful socio-religious community network.

Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, says he has no plans to form a political party and denies any involvement in the graft investigation.

Weak opposition

Erdogan, a devout Muslim whose AK Party traces its roots to political Islam, remains Turkey's most popular politician.

In parliament he faces a weak opposition and, supporters argue, at the polling stations his success in driving the economy could eclipse any damage from corruption accusations.

Erdogan has said abolishing the cram schools is part of a larger reform of an "unhealthy" educational system that ranks Turkey below the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development average in literacy, maths and science.

The law allows some of the cram schools to become private schools, giving them free access to properties that belong to the Treasury, and for the Education Ministry to recruit some of the teachers to work in public schools.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
Read more on:    tayyip erdogan  |  turkey

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Rugby World Cup 2015

All the action from the 2015 RWC, including live coverage of all 48 matches, breaking news, fixtures, results, logs - and much more!


Rugby World Cup 2015

Boks take ‘no mercy’ approach
Burger to equal Bok RWC record
Japan victory attracts record TV figures
iPads the secret to Japanese RWC success
Traffic Alerts

It is time to focus on your daily rhythm. Are you putting too much attention on future projects and neglecting the day to day...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.