‘We should call on the South African government and the African Union to expel this group from Africa,’ academics say
The failed 2016 coup in Türkiye exposed what many in Africa did not know about the Hizmet movement (FETO terrorist group) which had been active on the continent for years, a leading academic said Thursday.
“People in Africa could not believe that the leadership of Hizmet, which was purporting to be building mosques and schools on the continent, were actually behind the failed coup,” said Mustafa Mheta, a professor at Somali University and a research fellow at the Johannesburg-based Media Review.
He spoke at the Turkish Democracy and National Unity Day commemorations at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg.
FETO, referred to by members as Hizmet and its US-based leader Fetullah Gulen, is accused of orchestrating the defeated coup, which killed 250 people and nearly 2,200 injured.
Speaking from the Somali capital of Mogadishu via video link, Mheta said Africans could not believe that Hizmet members, who used to spread Islam, were flying F-16 jets and bombing Türkiye on July 15, 2016.
He said Africans had believed the Hizmet movement was a genuine organization that wanted to help the needy and promote education and Islam.
“But they were actually wolves in a sheep’s skin,” he said. “We should call on the South African government and the African Union to expel this group from Africa” because the group has a large presence in southern Africa.
Mheta said schools run by Hizmet, which still operate in South Africa, need to be closed because they are not aware of what they are teaching to children.
Haroon Aziz said South Africa’s civil society did not support the coup.
The academic said in South Africa, FETO uses educational projects to win followers.
“In South Africa, they recruit black bright African children to join their schools. They also target middle-class Indian families in South Africa to support them financially claiming they are educating poor black children,” he said.
Türkiye’s Ambassador to Pretoria Aysegul Kandas said many FETO-run organizations and schools in Africa had been closed or handed to Türkiye’s Maarif foundation which has also opened many schools on the continent.
She urged the international community to stand with Türkiye in defeating FETO.