Dutch court imposes fines for calling Gülen schools ‘FETÖ’

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Individuals who called the De Roos School, run by Hizmet movement sympathizers, a “terrorist school” or a “FETÖ school” were fined 1,000 euros for each use of either of the terms by a Netherlands court on Friday, Zaman Hollanda reported.

FETÖ (Fethullah Terrorist Organization) is an acronym the Turkish government has been using to refer to the Hizmet movement, inspired by the ideas of US-based Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, despite the lack of a court ruling that proves any terrorist activity on the part of the movement.

The Haarlem court ruled that people who insist on continuing to call the school a “terror school” or a “FETÖ school” will be fined 1,000 euros for each use of either of the terms. Experts speaking to Zaman Hollanda said the verdict could be extended to all similar insults against Hizmet movement institutions and sympathizers.

The De Roos School in Zaanstad applied to a court after some parents started a smear campaign against the school following a July 15 coup attempt in Turkey.

Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement. Despite Gülen and the movement having denied the accusation and calling for an international investigation, Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government launched a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

In a few days pro-Erdoğan Turks, encouraged by Turkish diplomatic missions and AKP-linked organizations, launched a smear campaign and witch-hunt against the Hizmet movement across Europe. Many Turkish parents have stopped sending their children to schools run by Hizmet movement sympathizers as a result of the witch-hunt and pressure imposed on them. In some countries the campaign turned into physical attacks against people and institutions.

A 42-year-old pro-Erdogan Turk was arrested in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam on Sept. 5 for incitement of the masses, insulting, threatening, spreading hatred and vandalism against people sympathetic to the Gülen movement. Dutch police on Sept. 7 detained a second Turkish man on suspicion of death threats and hate speech made against Erdoğan critics in the Netherlands.

In a similar move in France, a 28-year-old man of Turkish origin was handed down a prison sentence of eight months and a fine of 23,000 euros by a French court on Sept. 9 for attacking several institutions affiliated with the faith-based Gülen movement last week.

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