Conflict between supporters of Erdogan and Gulen spilled over to Bosnia

The exchange of arguments and accusations between followers of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and of Fethullah Gulen has spilled over to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and since a series of rallies in support to Erdogan in Bosnia, local institutions and media that criticise the Turkish president have been exposed to criticism, notably from some Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) politicians.

Gulen, a Turkish preacher and political figure, is the founder of the Gulen movement (known as Hizmet meaning service in Turkish), and he teaches a Hanafi version of Islam, deriving from Sunni Muslim scholar Said Nursî's teachings, perceived as moderate. Gulen,  who lives in United States, was accused by Erdogan of being the mastermind of the failed coup in Ankara last Friday.

In the meantime Turkish Ambassador to Sarajevo, Cihad Erginay has urged the Bosnian authorities to impose a ban on schools within the Gulen foundation. Those institutions are the international "Burch" University and a system of primary and secondary schools within "Bosna Sema" organisation operating in Sarajevo, Bihac, Zenica, Tuzla and Mostar since 1998.

Ambassador Erginay told a local commercial broadcaster that those schools were a part of "the terrorist organisation" led by Gulen.

"I expect all of us to fight those schools in the best possible way," the ambassador said warning against "the infiltration" of those schools into state and other institutions.

"One should be on alert," Erginay said in the interview with the "Face TV" broadcaster, adding that some countries such as Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan had already suspended the work of such schools.

The diplomat added that the Turkish authorities appreciate very much the support and solidarity which Bosniak leaders, including Bosnia and Herzegovina's presidency chairman Bakir Izetbegovic of the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) expressed to Erdogan immediately in the wake of the failed coup.

Erginay's accusations against "Bosna Sema" schools were not the only ones, and the administrations of those schools have reported to the police all threats they have received to date.

The schools also dismissed Erginay's accusations as untrue and ill-intended. They rejected claims about their inclusion in the attempted coup.

Apart from those schools, also the "Novo Vrijeme" newspaper, reportedly financed by funds ensured by the Hizemt foundation, has been also exposed to attacks. Journalists of that newspaper were labelled as "traitors"

Some officials of the Bosniak Muslim SDA party have accused the professional association of journalists called "BH Journalists" and its representative Borka Rudic of being lobbyists of the Gulen movement in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

SDA official Samir Kaplan said that the entire association works for the interest of the Gulan movement.

The association has dismissed the accusations and added that that was worrying that "Kaplan and his chaps are trying in the fully incomprehensible and unjustified manner to transpose the conflict in Turkey on to Bosnia and Herzegovina's public area"and to add the said association and the newspaper to a list of enemies of the ruling regime in Turkey.

The association calls on the SDA  party to punish Kaplan over his statements. The SDA has not yet expressed any position on the Kaplan case. On the other hand, last Saturday, Izetbegovic sent a message of support to Erdogan.

"My message to brother Erdogan is that he has a strong support here among us in Bosnia and Herzegovina," the chairman of the Bosnian presidency told the local media, calling on the Turks to "defend their freedom, democracy and their right to election, to stand by their president and by his successful administration which is pushing Turkey forward to the place in the world where it belongs." Izetbegovic said the coup attempt was an unpleasant surprise and an attempt to break the path of Turkey's democratic development.

Last update: Thu, 21/07/2016 - 12:32

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