An article has been published in the Turkey Youth Foundation’s (TÜGVA) organ, Fikirname. The article written by Salih Eğridere suggests handshakes between men and women to be “illicit” and advices students to “avoid the mixed company of boys and girls in schools” and to “ignore the opposite sex”. The article further justifies these reactionary claims, “One must abstain from talking to someone of the opposite sex unless it is necessary, because it is difficult to predict what the conversation will lead to.”
With new cooperation protocols, TÜGVA has recently been given permission by Turkey’s Ministry of National Education to give lectures in schools. The reactionary foundation is known for its close relations with Bilal Erdoğan, the younger son of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Bilal Erdoğan was a founding member of TÜGVA and is currently involved in TÜGVA’s so-called High Advisory Board.
“RELATIONSHIP IS ADULTERY”
The article titled “Guide to Opposite Sex” lists “points to consider for Muslim students in faculties”. The author regards any kind of relationship with the opposite sex as “adultery” and writes, “All actions that may lead to adultery are dangerous and forbidden by religion.”
Resembling an Islamic preach, the article continues to declare chatting on the Internet to be “very dangerous because of where it can lead to” and tells youth to “be sensitive on this matter and keep off”. The article reads, “If you have friends who are behaving loosely in relations with the opposite sex, warn them in a serious manner. You can even get to end your friendship with those who are insisting on their mistake.”
The so-called “guide” further asks students not to participate in “mixed-sex meetings and programs organised in faculties and classrooms”. “We must be allergic to the word ‘flirt’. As Muslims, when we think that it is our time to get married, we cannot consider meeting someone of the opposite sex to be appropriate unless the meeting is conducted within halal lines. We mustn’t forget that the opposite sex is an exam that is hard to resist and we must beg of Allah to save us from the traps of Satan,” says the article.
ERDOĞANS’ EDUCATION FOUNDATIONS
TÜGVA has lately gained access to Turkish primary and secondary schools following a protocol signed with the Ministry of National Education on “Values Education and Social-Cultural Activities” with the aim to “adopt national, spiritual, moral, humanitarian and cultural values”. The foundation also organises so-called “Thought Academies” targeting for university students.
Such reactionary education foundations have become substantially powerful within Turkish education system during Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s AKP rule. They play an important role in religionising the education system and students to create Erdoğan’s new “religious and rancorous generations”. These foundations include the pro-government Ensar Foundation, where 45 children were subjected to sexual abuse in 2016. AKP ministers and deputies protected the involved foundation officials.
Bilal Erdoğan’s role in managing such foundations has been much debated as he was a founding member of much of the foundations. Apart from his position in TÜGVA, Bilal Erdoğan is also involved in TÜGVA’s sister foundation, Turkey Youth and Education Service Foundation, or TÜRGEV. He previously served as a member of TÜRGEV’s Administrative Board and he now takes place in the foundation’s General Board. Bilal Erdoğan’s former chair is currently occupied by his sister Esra Albayrak.
Erdoğans came under accusations of corruption during the 2013 corruption scandal in Turkey that extended to other top members of TÜRGEV. They were said to collect donations from big corporations willing to win the contracts of state-sponsored projects and appropriate public properties but no legal sanctions were imposed.