Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Gulen's strong base in the Balkans

February 12, 2015 by Ioannis Michaletos

The extent of Fetulah Gulen's movement network in the Balkans and its likely outcome
Gulen with Pope John Paul II in 1998.
Fethullah Gulen's international Islamic movement is for the past few years in the spotlight in Turkey due to his para-state mechanism he was able to orchestrate, with multiple layers of influence within the Police and state security forces and the education apparatus of the country.
Although for years Erdogan's AKP political base was collaborating with Gulen, on a common global platform and in conjunction with the Muslim Brotherhood's global Islamic ambitions, the rift seems to have surpassed the level of compromise and a bitter fight ensues nowadays in Turkey.
Gulen's adherents and networks have flourished in the Balkans for years and constitute nowadays a formidable nexus of NGO's, religious centers, schools and colleges, as well as, private companies. The following passages outline their reach, with a focus in Albania.
Since the early 1990's and after the collapse of Communism in Albania, Gulen through the support of the Turkish state made his entrance in the country and has since then, created a multilayered parallel educational structure to the country's state school system.
Religious madrassas have been established in Berat, Tirana, Korca, Elbasan, Pogradec. Higher education colleges in Tirana, Durres, Skondra such as Turgut Ozal, Mehmet Akif, Hashan Risa Pasha respectively. Gulen places special attention into reaching out to the country's emerging elite, thus the highly -pursued private school for the local elite, that of the International School of Tirana, is a Gulen-owned one, whose graduates get access to either local or international universities that belong to the global Gullen system.
NGO such as the Yeni Ufuklar, play a crucial role into cementing interpersonal relations between students and alumni, whilst local Sunni religious structures have been effectively influenced to a great extent by the people associating themselves with Gulen in Albania.
Organization: Sema Foundation (Fondacioni Sema)
  • Mehmet Akif College (Kolegji Mehmet Akif) Tirana (1993)
  • Hasan Riza Pasha College (Shkolla Hasan Riza Pasha) Shkoder (2001) primary and secondary school, and kindergarten
  • Institucioni Parashkollor M. Akif, Tirana (2006)
  • Meridian Course Center, a.k.a. Meridian Foreign Language and Training Courses Center (Qendër Kursesh Meridian) Tirana
Medresas operated by Sema Foundation in partnership with Komuniteti Musliman:
  • Elbasan – Cerrik, Liria
  • Kavajë, Hafiz Ali Korça,
  • Tiranë, H. Mahmud Dashi
  • Buharaja-Berat, Medrese Vexhi
  • Korça
Epoka University, Tirana
Beder University (opened April 2011; Sema Foundation)
Organization: Turgut Ozal Education Company
Turgut Ozal kindergarten, primary and secondary school, high school, Tirana
Turgut Ozal College, kindergarten, primary, secondary and high school, Durres

Memorial International School of Tirana (secondary and high school)

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