The Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah reported Saturday that a Cairo school affiliated with the Gülenist movement was raided by Egyptian police. However a statement from the school’s director to Daily News Egypt refutes the accusations and the Turkish Embassy maintains they are not aware of the event.
According to the Daily Sabah, one of Turkey’s main media outlets, tens of inspectors from the Egyptian security forces entered the International Salahaldin School and “seized the passports of teachers”. Turkish staff reportedly had their passports inspected and all, bar four, were “dismissed” for a lack of appropriate working and residential permits.
The article continues that the inspectors “banned Turkish classes and ordered the removing of Turkish books and flags in the school building”.
The New Cairo-based school is believed to be affiliated to the Gülen movement, which follows the religious and educational teaching of Muslim preacher Fethullah Gülen. Its website makes no reference to its connection, however its affiliation is widely acknowledged on many Gülenist websites.
The movement, also called ‘Hizmet’, has private schools in many different countries and there is at least one other affiliated Egyptian school, located in Beni Suef.
However, Ekram Caglar, a public relations manager at the Salahaldin School, unequivocally denied to Daily News Egypt the raid.
“The claims are false, there was no raid,” he said. “This is an attempt by Turkish media to involve politics and try and worsen our relations with Egypt.”
Caglar said that there was recently a ‘routine’ inspection by the Ministry of Education, however the school is ‘performing well’ and works within Egyptian laws.
“Teaching materials are determined by the Ministry and we do not change or twist them,” he said.
A statement from the school’s director to Daily News Egypt adds: “The Daily Sabah is a newspaper that supports the Turkish government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan and published false information to distort the image of Salahaldin International Schools in Egypt.”
“It is untrue that any of teachers and staff are members of a secret organisation and that they had their passports taken,” the school’s statement maintains.
Daily News Egypt spoke to the Turkish Embassy who maintained that they had not heard of the school’s raid, nor of any staff having been flagged for incorrect visas.
Fethullah Gülen is an outspoken supporter of former Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi, and referred to the ousting of the Islamist president as a “coup” and “evilness… Democracy has once again been dealt a blow in Egypt”. However, a journalist at the Daily Sabah claimed to Daily News Egypt that the movement’s schools often deny the affiliation because their syllabus is independent and operates outside of regulation. The journalist continued that the school may be trying to deflect attention for its Turkish connections.
However, the Sabah article continues to allege that the Gülenist Salahaldin School’s staff will be “forced to leave the country soon despite their explicit support for General Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi”.
“The school has nothing to do with politics and focuses all its efforts on only on providing the highest level of education… We respect the Egyptian government and do not interfere in its internal affairs,” the school’s statement finishes.