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Turkey: A Peek Inside a Gülen School

A teacher watches students playing chess at Fatih Koleji - a school in Istanbul affiliated with the Gulen Movement. (Photo: Justin Vela)

With conservative Muslim believers becoming more visible in Turkey these days, a movement founded by a charismatic Islamic theologian, Fetullah Gülen, is attracting increasing outside interest. The Gülen movement’s public profile is defined mainly by a worldwide network of schools that it operates, yet little is known about the inner workings of the organization’s educational component. EurasiaNet.org was recently invited to visit one of the movement’s showcase, high-achieving schools, Fatih Koleji, located on the European side of Istanbul. The visit provided greater clarity on a particularly controversial aspect of the schools’ operations – religious instruction. The Gülen movement’s stated aim is to create a “golden generation” of educated Muslims, an aim shared by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. At the Fatih Koleji school, statues in Ottoman-era garb and children’s artwork sparsely decorate the interior of the sleek, multi-storey school building. Male teachers wear suits, while nearly all the female instructors wear long, white jackets.

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Justin Vela is a freelance reporter based in Istanbul.

Turkey: A Peek Inside a Gülen School

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