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Student donations for sacrificial animals treated as criminal activity in Zonguldak

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Tax inspectors who examined the accounts of five private educational institutions in the Black Sea province of Zonguldak whose management has recently been taken over by trustees, have found out that students at these educational institutions were encouraged to make donations for a sacrificial animal ahead of an Eid al-Adha holiday, the state-run Anatolian News Agency reported on Wednesday.

“Donations sufficient to buy a sacrificial animal were collected from each classroom,” read the headline of Anatolia’s article, which apparently treated the move that aimed to encourage children for charity work as a criminal activity.

Anatolia’s report also said other kinds of donations were also collected from the parents of some children and school staff.

On Saturday, a penal court of peace in Zonguldak appointed trustees to take over the management of 11 companies most of which are schools in the province in yet another government-led move targeting the faith-based Gülen movement.

The Zonguldak Penal Court of Peace ruled that trustees be appointed to schools operating under the Asır Private Educational Services as well as some car dealership companies in the province due to their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

On Saturday, police teams raided the branches of  Fatih Colleges, which are known for their academic success in national and international contests, as well as the branches of Anafen prep schools in several districts of Zonguldak. The administrators of the schools were immediately removed from their positions by the trustees.

Trustees were appointed to five other companies in the province on Wednesday due to their alleged link to the Gülen movement.

Gülen movement is famous for its promotion of educational activities, interfaith dialogue and charity work all around the world. Every year the movement’s charity organization, Kimse Yok Mu, slaughters thousands of sacrificial animals all around the world and deliver their meat to the people in need. The sacrificial animals are donated to Kimse Yok Mu by people all across Turkey.

The move in Zonguldak comes amidst escalating government pressure on members of the Gülen movement as well as business groups, hospitals and schools affiliated with it.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government launched an all-out war against the Gülen movement after a corruption investigation targeting people in Erdoğan’s inner circle became public with a wave of detentions on Dec. 17, 2013.

Erdoğan accused police officers, judges and prosecutors he claimed are linked with Gülen movement, which is inspired by Turkish-Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, of being behind the investigation, which he branded a “coup attempt.”

The movement strongly denies Erdoğan’s allegation.

As part of the government’s war on the Gülen movement, many individuals have been arrested and business places and organizations have been either shut down or taken over by the government on the grounds that they support terrorism.

In a move that attracted worldwide condemnation last month, the AK Party government took over the Feza Media Group, which includes Turkey’s best-selling Zaman newspaper as well as Today’s Zaman newspaper, Aksiyon magazine and Cihan News Agency.

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