Controversial foundation to offer “values education” despite previous cases of sexually abusing children

TURKISH CITIZENS have been made to remember a controversial foundation as a new protocol was signed with it by the National Education Directorate with regard to public schools in southern-west Antalya this week.

The foundation, Ensar, is a pro-government private institution that is better remembered when two of its staff members were sentenced for child sexual abuse.

According to a report by a news portal, Kamudanhaber, the protocol is for the Ensar Foundation to give “values education” to children in public schools for two years in Antalya. The report highlighted that the controversial decision is e contrary to a previous court decision.

Another protocol was signed between the Ministry of National Education General Directorate and Ensar in 2018, which was annulled by the 8th Chamber of the State Council soon after.

The High court ruled the protocol was contrary to the basic provisions of the Turkish constitution which rules public education service is a duty of the state, performed only by civil servants and cannot be assigned to private organizations.

This court decision, however, apparently has not been taken into consideration by National Education Directorate’s Antalya branch, which handed over “values education” to Ensar.

Who is Ensar Foundation?

With dozens of branches across Turkey, Ensar Foundation was established in 1979 and has activities in various fields. The foundation says it aims to give religious, ethics and values education to children and students of all ages. They teach Arabic courses and basic Islamic Sciences along with some social sciences.

Turks learnt of the Ensar Foundation when a scandal broke out in one of its branches in Çorum in 2008. Ex-chairman of the branch, Zekai İşler, was accused of sexually abusing a 15-year-old female student and sentenced to 12.5 years.

Following on this, in 2016, a teacher at the foundation, Muharrem Büyüktürk was blamed for sexually abusing ten male students, allegedly accommodated by Ensar in Karaman.

“He worked for our foundation for five months in 2013, holding private class sessions. We had received no complaints or problems at the time from his service,” Ali Bağcı, an official from the Karaman branch of the Ensar Foundation said at the time, denying allegations.

Büyüktürk was sentenced to 508 years and three months in jail for the crimes committed between 2012 and 2015.

Turkish government’s media blackout on the case drew rebuff and officials were criticized for allegedly trying to cover up the scandal.

A former Minister of Family and Social Policy, Sema Ramazanoğlu, even tried to suggest that the scandal should not be linked with the foundation.

“As it once happened, the institution that stands out with its services cannot be condemned,” she said in a statement, infuriating many.

Ensar has been one of many private religious foundations that favour President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during his campaigns.

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