A comment for the SIPCATS Discussion Forum
Patrick Hällzon, MA, Research Assistant, SIPCATS
For a comment on the contribution by Bayram Balcı to the SIPCATS Discussion Forum, “The Fethullah Gülen Movement in Central Asia after the Failed Military Coup in Turkey”, I would like to highlight one aspect that may be of importance when analyzing the future prospects for the hizmet-schools in Central Asia and elsewhere. This is finance. Even if the Central Asian governments might want to continue to support the schools, it is well known that the human and financial capital invested directly from Turkey has played an important role in the establishment of these schools.
In one of the books revisited for this discussion forum, “Prospects for Democracy in Central Asia (2005)”, there is a chapter on “Turkish Islamist Entrepreneurs in Central Asia”, where the author, Mustafa Şen, speaks of the important role that so-called ‘follower entrepreneurs’ have played in the establishment of Turkish businesses and schools in Central Asia. The atmosphere of good will surrounding the opening of schools helped promote business opportunities for small scale Turkish entrepreneurs supportive of the movement. Thus an important question is what will happen to the schools when individuals in Turkey supporting the movement are increasingly monitored and prevented from donating money to these establishments.
Bayram Balcı writes in his contribution to the discussion forum that “there is an economical and practical reason for local countries to defend the schools set up by the Gülen movement”. However, it is not likely that the future of the schools only depends on ‘sovereign state policies’ in Central Asia vis-à-vis Ankara.
On the contrary, current developments in Turkey will most likely also affect the hizmet-schools in Central Asia, especially from the point of view of financial support. Firstly, teachers from Turkey will find it increasingly difficult to go and work there. Secondly, Turkish businesses linked to individuals within the movement will be prevented from continuing their activities in Turkey, and as a consequence of that they will no longer be able to provide economic resources for the schools.
 Şen, M. 2005. Turkish Islamist entrepreneurs in Central Asia. In: Schlyter, B. (ed.) Prospects for democracy in Central Asia. (Transactions 15.) Stockholm: Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul. 253-264.