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26.09.2014 14:34 News >> Is TİKA Funding Radical Islamists?

Is TİKA Funding Radical Islamists?

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) likes to take special pride in the Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency (TİKA). This agency is implementing various projects in different places around the world. It restores historic monuments and lends support to civil society organizations (CSOs). TİKA projects even make Turkey the third-largest assistance-providing country after the US and UK. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recently spoke of this fact as a source of pride during his visit to the US.The TİKA projects were generally advertised as efforts to revive historic monuments that were legacies of the Ottoman Empire. For instance, Fatih Sultan Mehmet Mosque, Kosovo's largest mosque, in Pristina, was renovated thanks to a TİKA project. In Kosovo, there are dozens of mosques that have been repaired by TİKA. They are financing these projects with our taxes, but this expenditure is sufficiently justified.Whom does TİKA really help? The answer to this question can be found in the

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) likes to take special pride in the Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency (TİKA). This agency is implementing various projects in different places around the world. It restores historic monuments and lends support to civil society organizations (CSOs). TİKA projects even make Turkey the third-largest assistance-providing country after the US and UK. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recently spoke of this fact as a source of pride during his visit to the US.
The TİKA projects were generally advertised as efforts to revive historic monuments that were legacies of the Ottoman Empire. For instance, Fatih Sultan Mehmet Mosque, Kosovo's largest mosque, in Pristina, was renovated thanks to a TİKA project. In Kosovo, there are dozens of mosques that have been repaired by TİKA. They are financing these projects with our taxes, but this expenditure is sufficiently justified.

Whom does TİKA really help? The answer to this question can be found in the recent crackdown on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the al-Nusra Front in Kosovo. A few days ago, the Kosovo police launched an operation against radical Islamic groups in the country. Thirty imams were taken into custody on charges of sending jihadists to Syria and Iraq. Many of them were arrested. Sixteen foundations and associations were shut down on charges of aiding and abetting members of ISIL, the al-Nusra Front and other al-Qaeda-linked organizations.

The key figure arrested on charges of aiding these organizations is Şefçet Kraniçi, the imam of Pristina's Fatih Sultan Mehmet Mosque, which was renovated by TİKA. This amounts to repairing the mosque with funds from Turkish taxpayers and then delivering the mosque to radical Islamic groups.

But this is only the tip of the iceberg. Others taken into custody included other people working at TİKA-funded mosques.
Some might suggest that TİKA's duty is to renovate mosques, and it cannot meddle in the process of assigning imams or officials to those mosques. But it is not so simple. We are talking about Kosovo, and one of the most dominant rivalries is between Hanafism/Maturidism and Salafism. In Kosovo, Hanafi clerics are being purged and replaced with Salafi clerics. Moreover, this plan is supported by Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) as well as TİKA and the Yunus Emre Foundation.
There is more to the crackdown by the Kosovo police on ISIL and the al-Nusra Front. Many of the CSOs backed by TİKA and the Yunus Emre Foundation in Kosovo were closed down during this operation.
The largest of them is the Association for Culture, Education and School (AKEA), which was frequently visited by Ahmet Davutoğlu in the past.
AKEA was established in 2004 by Husamedin Abazi, who was trained in Riyadh. The leading figures linked with this association are Behar Avdiu, Nhari Toska, Bashkim Mehani, Ilir Xhoxhaj and Ilir Gashi. All of them are connected in some way or other to Turkey's AKP or affiliated organizations. Many observers have defined AKEA as the Kosovo branch of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB). But the significant majority of imams who were arrested on charges of aiding and abetting ISIL are "volunteer members" of AKEA.
AKEA's founder, Abazi, was frequently hosted by organizations that are close to the AKP in İstanbul, such as the Humanitarian Aid Foundation (İHH) and Fatih Sultan Mehmet University (not to be confused with Fatih University).
There may be a link between CSOs close to the AKP and radical Islamic groups. That is a matter of choice. But when it comes to how our taxes are spent, we, as citizens, are entitled to question it.
AKEA is an organization that is financed by TİKA, and with the support of Kürşat Mamat as TİKA's Kosovo representative, it has recently become Kosovo's most effective CSO.
Gashi, the head of AKEA's Prizren branch, openly acknowledges TİKA's support for AKEA. "We conduct our joint activities generally with TİKA and the İHH. We cooperated with TİKA in cultural matters and with the İHH in humanitarian aid operations, and our cooperation continues. Moreover, we have hosted many intellectuals, columnists and writers from Turkey. We were honored to host Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, who paid a visit to our association during his official talks in Kosovo, as well as other dignitaries such as Mustafa Özel, Mustafa İslamoğlu and Abdullah Yıldız, and other academics, journalists and municipal managers" (Aug. 16, 2012).
The state-owned Yunus Emre Foundation admits its relations with AKEA on its official website. For instance, the "Islamic Arts Exhibition" was a joint project between the Yunus Emre Foundation and AKEA. At the opening of the Sixth Islamic Art Photography Exhibition, which included 14 photographers, the values of Islam were presented to Prizren. Fifty-one works by 14 photographers were put on display at the Prizren Yunus Emre Turkish Culture Center through cooperation between AKEA and the Yunus Emre Turkish Culture Center. Many other activities were jointly organized between Turkey's public institutions and radical Islamic organizations such as AKEA. And these activities were funded by our taxes.
The ruling AKP is doing everything to ensure the closure of Turkish schools -- which are run by Turkish entrepreneurs inspired by the ideas of well-respected Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen -- but if AKEA, frequented by Davutoğlu, has been closed down on charges of ties with ISIL and al-Qaeda, then we, as citizens, have the right to ask: Are you financing radical Islamists with our taxes? (Emre Uslu/Today’s Zaman)



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