Using an NGO run by his son, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has set out to make a Muslim Brotherhood (MB) generation out of the youth in Turkey, delivering books and jihadist literature written by MB leaders to young students enrolled in dorms across the country.
The clandestine plan, a copy of which was obtained by Nordic Monitor, was revealed when the secret minutes of a board meeting of the Turkey Youth Foundation (Türkiye Gençlik Vakfı, TÜGVA) were leaked. TÜGVA is led by Erdoğan’s younger son Bilal and receives generous financial and political support from the government.
At a top management meeting held at TÜGVA headquarters in Istanbul on November 29, 2016, the foundation’s administrators decided to distribute books by an Islamist publisher who has for years been promoting the Brotherhood ideology in Turkey.
The meeting, chaired by the then-president of TÜGVA, Ismail Emanet, a close friend of Bilal, authorized Azam Turan, the purchasing manager for the foundation, to ensure the delivery and distribution of the publisher’s books to each and every student dormitory administered by TÜGVA.
The minutes of the TÜGVA board meeting reveal a secret plan to promote MB ideology among students in Turkey:Board_meeting_minutes_Tugva
The publisher, identified in the minutes as Ravza Yayınları, sells translated versions of books by leading Brotherhood figures such as Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Brotherhood, famous ideologues Saʽid Hawwa and Sayyid Qutb and many others affiliated with the MB network.
Ravza was established in 1989 by Mustafa Kasadar, an anti-Semitic, 56-year-old former teacher, to target young people in Turkey. Although the official company behind the Ravza trademark was changed several times, it has remained in the hands of Kasadar until the present day. According to the latest trade registry filings, a firm under the name of Yörünge Basım Yayım Reklamcılık Ltd. Şti. owns the publishing house. with Kasadar’s relative Ömer Faruk Kasadar listed as the owner on paper. In published books Kasadar was described as the editor-in-chief and Ömer Faruk the coordinator. The company manages its finances through Islamic lender Türkiye Finans.
The distribution of Brotherhood books in Turkish translation through TÜGVA’s direct access means that some 5,000 university students enrolled in TÜGVA’s dorms were subjected to religious indoctrination in line with the Brotherhood ideology. The foundation has 38 dormitories in various provinces and receives millions of Turkish lira in government funds thanks to the unwavering patronage of Erdoğan’s family. Similar projects were also launched by other organizations affiliated with the Erdoğan government.
TÜGVA also has a controversial contract with the Ministry of National Education (MEB) for conducting “social, cultural and sport activities” in public schools that allows it access to 15.2 million K-12 students in those schools. The initial contract was successfully challenged in court by the opposition, but the government signed a new contract on February 25, 2021, ignoring the decision of the administrative court.
Under the terms of the contract, the foundation sends speakers to schools, organizes workshops and runs summer camps to lure young students to the Brotherhood ideology.
Kasadar also writes op-eds for Milli Gazete, the flagship daily for political Islamists in Turkey. He has frequently been featured as keynote speaker at public schools, delivering speeches to high school students. He is known for his staunch anti-Semitic views and has publicly called for the destruction of Israel and predicted its imminent demise.
A bookstore owned by Kasadar located in Istanbul’s Eminönü district is frequented by prominent MB figures. In October 2017 Ali Muhammad al-Sallabi, an Islamist politician from Libya, was seen posing next to Kasadar at the company’s headquarters. Al-Sallabi, a student of Yusuf al-Qaradawi, was one of the key operatives channeling arms and funds to Islamist groups in Libya. Sallabi was placed on a terrorist watch list by a number of Arab states following the 2017 Qatar diplomatic crisis.
Trade registry filing in June 2020 shows that Ravza, which sells translated versions of books by leading Brotherhood figures, is owned by Kasadar’s relative Ömer Faruk:Ravza_Publisher_Omer_Faruk_Kasadar_2020_June_trade_registry