The Maarif Foundation is reporting that Turkish President Erdoğan’s wife, Emine, attended its consultative meeting in Belgium. According to the Maarif Foundation release:
June 14, 2021 President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s wife, Emine Erdoğan, attended to the consultative meeting of the Turkish Maarif Foundation in Brussels. In a post on her social media account, First Lady Emine Erdoğan said : “ We met with representatives of non-governmental organizations and female students at the consultation meeting organized by the Maarif Foundation in Brussels on the occasion of the NATO Leaders’ Summit and exchanged views on their activities.
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The Turkish government founded the Maarif Foundation (Türkiye Maarif Vakfı) ostensibly to provide education, dormitories, and scholarships abroad, from pre-school to higher education, and raise a “Turkey-friendly youth.” It was also intended to take over schools run by supporters of Fethullah Gülen, which Turkey blames for its 2016 coup. Zafer Sırakaya, Istanbul AKP MP and AKP Deputy Chairman of Foreign Relations, has identified the Maarif Foundation as an element of Turkey’s soft power and a means to reduce assimilation among the Turkish diaspora. The Maarif Foundation operates in over 100 countries globally. Its board members include many AKP officials, as well as:
- Selim Cerrah, a co-founder and vice president of Cihannüma, an association that has hosted Hamas leaders, including Khaled Meshaal.
- Osman Nuri Kabaktepe (Vice President Maarif Foundation) was a vice president of Cihannüma and a member of the high advisory board of the International Muslim Scholars Association, which has called itself the Turkish branch of the International Union of Muslim Scholars.
- Ayşen Gürcan has been a Chief Advisor to President Erdoğan.
GIOR reporting on the Maarif Foundation has included:
- In July 2021, we reported that Turkish government officials, leaders of a Turkish Islamist organization, and the President of the Belgian Maarif Foundation participated in a religious high school’s graduation ceremony.
- In May 2021, we reported that the Maarif Foundation was promoting a new school in the US state of New Jersey.
- In March 2021, we reported that the Maarif Foundation’s budget was tripled for 2021.