With the steady improvement in Egyptian-Turkish relations and their tendency towards more rapprochement, Questions persist about the demands that each side wants from the other, whether as a condition or as a result of this rapprochement that followed years of estrangement.
In the absence of official statements addressing these details; News reports often talk about Turkey’s interest in understanding with Egypt about the gas wealth under the Mediterranean, in return for the Egyptian authority’s interest in silencing opposition and critical voices based in Turkey over the past years.
Over the past weeks – and especially after an official meeting was held between the two countries in Cairo early last May – media voices close to the Egyptian regime talked about prices that the Turkish side could offer for rapprochement, including the extradition or expulsion of opposition leaders or opposition media professionals residing in Turkey .
However, the Egyptian media did not touch on a file that may be very important in the context of improving relations between the two countries, which is related to the “Service Movement” and its leader, Fethullah Gulen, who is residing in the United States, whom Ankara calls for his extradition and accuses him of being behind the failed coup attempt that took place in July 2016. .
This file is rarely made public to the extent that many Egyptians may not know that the Gülen movement has had an important presence in Egypt for years; Especially at the cultural and media levels, as well as its association with a number of important personalities in Egypt, which we shed light on in this subject.
Ankara and Gulen
The Turkish political authorities accuse the Turkish preacher, residing in self-imposed exile in the US state of Pennsylvania, of being the mastermind of the failed military coup in Turkey in 2016.
After the failed coup, Turkish diplomacy sought to track down the movement’s supporters who fled to other countries, by intensifying the relations of its consulates and embassies in these countries with the security services. with a view to arresting them and returning them to trial.
Egypt is one of those countries to which many followers of Fethullah Gulen resorted, in addition to the actual presence before the coup attempt, through economic, educational, and media networks, whose establishment dates back to the early 2000s.
Gulen and the Arab League
Fethullah Gulen has received great attention from the political circles in power in the Arab and Islamic worlds for decades. This was evidenced by the Arab League’s hosting in 2010 of an international conference dealing with the intellectual and reform effects of this preacher and its impact on the Turkish interior and abroad, under the title “The Future of Reform in the Islamic World.” It was remarkable that such a conference was held in the League of Arab States; Which reflected the man’s influence and influence at the time.
However, the man missed his international conference and called Gülen Nozad, editor-in-chief of Hira magazine, which is published by the movement in Egypt; Despite the heavy presence of political, religious and media figures, led by Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb, who was president of Al-Azhar University at the time, the Islamic thinker Muhammad Salim Al-Awa, as well as the late Chancellor Tariq Al-Bishri and others.
Salah El Din International Schools
The political climate in the last years of the rule of the late President Hosni Mubarak allowed the movement’s freedom to exist in the intellectual, societal and media spaces, and its first steps were towards consolidating its presence inside the Egyptian, and creating an economic base that clashed with the society educationally and culturally by transferring the experience of the movement’s famous schools in Turkey to Egypt under The name of “Salah al-Din International Schools”, which some consider as consulates and its directors are ambassadors of the movement in Arab and Islamic countries.
The movement’s schools opened in September 2009 in the presence of Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb, President of Al-Azhar University at the time, Sheikh Muhammad Al-Mukhtar Al-Mahdi, who was a member of the Islamic Research Academy and the Council of Senior Scholars of Al-Azhar, as well as famous scholars and preachers such as Ahmed Omar Hashem and Zaghloul Al-Najjar, and the late Muhammad Emara. .
Salah al-Din schools are distributed between the capital Cairo and the governorates of Alexandria and Beni Suef. The movement has included in its board of directors and the membership of its board of trustees a number of Egyptian religious, institutional and cultural elites, most notably Sheikh Ali Gomaa, the former Mufti of Egypt and one of the most prominent supporters of the current authority, who has a close relationship with the Turkish preacher.
Following the 2013 coup in Egypt, the movement’s schools were subject to financial and administrative supervision by the Ministry of Education, but that supervision was soon lifted after a year and a half.
The school includes a number of Turkish names in its management team, led by the main director “Ersin Gokcek”, and his deputy, “Huseyin Yavuz”, as well as other names such as Erhan Tugin, Omer Yildirim and Leyla Yurt, all of whom belong to the service movement led by Gülen.
Dar Al-Na`dah and Hira Magazine
Since its establishment at the beginning of the second millennium, the “Dar Al-Naba`” Foundation (formerly Dar Al-Nile) has been considered the intellectual machine that produced the entirety of the ideas of the Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen.
The Foundation prints and publishes Gulen’s books as well as the “Hira” magazine, which mixes cultural, religious and scientific matters, and is printed and distributed through the State-owned Dar Al-Tahrir Foundation for Printing and Publishing.
Hani Raslan, a researcher at the Al-Ahram Strategic Center, is its editor-in-chief, and the Turkish “Ismail Qayar” is the editor-in-chief, under the supervision of Isaac Engi, the movement’s most prominent media official in Egypt, and with him are Sinan Yorulmaz and Nafetat Savash, the movement’s leaders.
In parallel, the movement provides services to Arab and foreign students by teaching Arabic, Turkish and other languages. In recent years, its language teaching centers have multiplied, most notably the Nile Center for Languages in the upscale neighborhood of Zamalek in Cairo.
Doğrusu – which means “the truth” and was established in recent years – is the most prominent Turkish-language website for the service group inside Egypt, and it is run by Gumali Unal, the former correspondent of Zaman newspaper in Cairo, the movement’s main newspaper in Turkey. The state after the failed coup.
Next is the “Turkey Now” website in its Arabic version, and the work of these two websites is based on opposing the Turkish regime and criticizing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and they are affiliated with the “Al-Madar” company, headed by the Egyptian broadcaster close to the security services, Nashat al-Daihi, who has a close relationship with the preacher Fethullah Gulen He had a television interview in exile in the United States.
“Turkey Affairs” magazine
The magazine “Turkish Affairs” – issued by the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Economic Studies – is the first Egyptian magazine specialized in Turkish affairs, and its editor is headed by Mohamed Abdel Qader Khalil, director of the “Turkey and the Arab Mashreq Egypt” program at the center.
The tracker of the progress of ideas and treatments within the magazine and its topics since the first issue; He finds it intersects with the vision of the Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen and is strongly opposed to the policies of President Erdogan, and the ruling Justice and Development Party.
Opportunity to undermine movement
In his comment to Al-Jazeera Net, the Turkish writer Firas Radwanoglu mentions that the Fethullah Gulen group or the service movement – as it is called – is behind the recent coup attempt that took place in Turkey in 2016, a group that has large extensions all over the world, and is strongly present In the Turkish interior since the eighties of the last century.
Ridvanoglu adds that the movement’s activities are expanding and expanding in various religious, economic and educational types, and are expanding in non-Arabic speaking Islamic countries to teach them religion and the Arabic language, as well as Turkish, “however, their teachings have many deviations and their political uses that are tainted by a lot of ambiguity in They understand its essence, its stated goals, and others,” according to his description.
The Turkish writer explains that the group made Egypt a headquarters for economic investment for the organization, and at the same time benefited from the dispute between the Egyptian and Turkish presidents.
However – in light of the recent transformations in relations between the two countries and in the context of the current rapprochement – it is possible to undermine the movement’s presence inside Egypt, but this potential undermining will be limited to the economic aspect only, without any other actions or using Egypt as a platform for its opposition to the regime. Ruling in Turkey and Erdogan, according to Ridvanoglu’s description.