Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has issued an amendment to regulation on September 11 in order to allocate public lands to “public benefit associations” for 49 years, paving the way for pro-government Islamist foundations under the guise of educatory goals and dormitory services.
According to Turkey’s Official Gazette, the recent regulation allows the associations that the AKP government regards within the status of “public benefit entities” to utilize public lands and properties in addition to foundations which already have been entitled with the same rights since 2015.
The AKP government has assigned several public properties to pro-government foundations like the Turkish Youth and Education Service Foundation (TÜRGEV) and Ensar since the initial amendments in 2015 regarding the law on the transfer of property and development rights in Turkey. TÜRGEV is well known for its close links with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s family. Bilal Erdoğan’s, the president’s son, had been a member of the foundation’s board of directors.
Ensar Foundation, yet another pro-government educatory institution, is widely known with systematic child abuses. A teacher from the foundation was revealed in 2015 to have raped 45 children for years at Ensar buildings. The then Family and Social Policies Minister, Sema Ramazanoğlu, was heavily criticized for defending the foundation. “A single incident should not become an excuse to defame an institution that has come into prominence with its services,” she said.
Following the government’s initial amendments regarding the allocation of public properties to foundations, the mayor of İstanbul’s Üsküdar district, Hilmi Türkmen granted two public buildings to Ensar, the notorious foundation.
The İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality is also known for funding several Islamist foundations that operate for Islamic indoctrination to play a supplementary role in the nationwide Islamization of education under the rule of AKP government.
The recent amendment to the regulation has broadened the scope of entities to be granted with public lands and properties. Apart from “foundations”, the term “associations operating for public purposes” has been added in the regulation, further increasing the government support to pro-AKP institutions around the country.