07/16/2015, 00.00
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Turkey’s Constitutional Court rules against Erdogan’s anti-private school law

This is the latest chapter in the fight against Gulen, a Muslim cleric in self-exile in the United States who heads the powerful Hizmet movement. In Turkey, ‘dershanes’ are very popular private schools. Some 3,800 centres cater to 1.2 million students who hope to get into the country’s top schools and universities.

Ankara (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Turkey's constitutional court ruled against a controversial law that had closed “dershanes”, private schools, run mostly by Fethullah Gulen’s Hizmet movement, a self-exiled Muslim cleric living in the United States, and an archival of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the original sponsor of the law when he was still prime minister.

The ‘dershanes’ are very popular in Turkey, with 3,800 centres catering to 1.2 million students who hope to win a place in the top schools and universities.

The law declared unconstitutional by the Court had been adopted in March 2014, when Erdogan was prime minister, with orders to close the facilities by September of last year.

The law was part of a long-running feud between the two former allies. Through it, Erdogan sought to eliminate or at least limit the role of Hizmet, an Islamic group that is a major economic and cultural force funding and running schools and universities in scores of countries.

The group provides scholarships, housing and moral guidance to students who come from the countryside. It also tries to reconcile science and technology with Islam and organised the Olympics of Turkish culture for Turkish-speaking people around the world.

When he was prime minister, Erdogan blamed Gulen, a former ally, and his movement for the corruption allegations that rocked his government in December 2013, and which he dismissed as a plot by the cleric to unseat him.

After the law was adopted, Turkey’s main opposition party, the Republican People's Party (Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi or CHP), turned to the Constitutional Court to have it overturned, arguing that it would exclude the most disadvantaged students from the most sought-after universities and increase the impact of socio-economic differences on the results of entrance examinations.

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