Yunus Emre Institute promotes Turkish language abroad, filling space left by Gülenists

Yunus Emre Institute promotes Turkish language abroad, filling space left by Gülenists

Ali Kayalar - ANKARA
The Yunus Emre Institute, a non-governmental organization that promotes Turkish culture and language abroad, has brought together 700 students from 57 countries at a one-month summer camp in Ankara, with government officials praising it for its efforts in sweeping the network of Fethullah Gülen from the field. 

The Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), widely believed to have masterminded the July 2016 coup attempt, “abused its schools abroad and used them as a tool to spread,” Culture Minister Numan Kurtulmuş said on Aug. 15, speaking at a ceremony at the presidential palace marking the end of this year’s summer camp. 

“Unfortunately, this gang of murderers used the opportunities of the beautiful Turkish language, the language of the heart, and brought together tens of thousands of people in what it called the Turkish Olympics. They abused Turkish with fake smiles on their faces,” Kurtulmuş added. 

The Yunus Emre Institute and other such bodies of “cultural diplomacy” are now responsible for “sweeping away the remains of such a betrayal, promoting the real face of the Turkish language and culture to the world,” he said.  

Kurtulmuş also said he would cherish a letter penned by Muhammed Natşe, a Palestinian participant who wrote about what he dreamed for two decades later. 

The Yunus Emre Institute held the “Turkish Summer Camp” for an eighth consecutive year in 2017, with students from five countries displaying their skills in writing and singing in Turkish at the closing ceremony.

Some 23 Turkish universities supported the camp, which included visits to 22 provinces across Turkey. 

Speaking at the ceremony, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım praised the efforts of the institute for raising “envoys of the heart,” while President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan congratulated it in a written statement. 

The institute has centers in 135 locations in 60 different countries around the world, said its chairman Şeref Ateş. 

“The Yunus Emre Institute takes the rooted voice of the historic Anatolian culture to the world,” Ateş said. 
The institute is named after Yunus Emre, an Anatolian Sufi poet who lived in the 13th and 14th centuries and who is known as a symbol of human values, love and social peace. 

The Gülen network, which has opened dozens of schools across the world to raise international followers, organized an event called the “Turkish Olympics” every year from 2003.

Senior statesmen attended its programs in Turkey until 2013, before it was totally banned amid the collapse in relations between the Gülenists and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). The break came after a concerted campaign targeting then-prime minister Erdoğan, his family members, and four cabinet ministers with illegal wiretappings. 

The government declared that the recordings apparently proving corruption were “fake,” and prosecutors who took legal action against the ministers and their families later faced probes. Zekeriya Öz, the chief prosecutor in the case, is however still at large. 

“They used to have their Olympics, now it is over,” Erdoğan said during a public rally in March 2014, over two years before the July 15, 2016 coup attempt.

Turkish PM slams language on social media 

Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has blasted the standard of language used on social media, calling on Turkish youths to “stop the rot” in their native tongue. 

“It is time to say ‘no’ to this rotting of the Turkish language. Unfortunately, the language used on social media is becoming seen as a valid written language among our youths,” Yıldırım said in address at the closing ceremony of the Yunus Emre Institute’s summer camp for international students on Aug. 15. 

Yıldırım criticized the “abbreviations, wrong grammar and frequently used foreign words” on social media. 
“It is time to end this corrosion, which is reminiscent of a completely new language rather than the real Turkish language,” he added. 

“A nation that loses it language will also lose its memory, its personality and even its beliefs,” Yıldırım said.