As you might remember, last week I mentioned that according to research company eMarketer, Turkey has the highest Twitter penetration in the world. While Turkey's Internet population is 36.4 million, its Twitter users are estimated at 11.3 million, giving a Twitter penetration rate of 31.1 percent. However, I now believe that Turkish users have further extended these numbers in the last two weeks.
There is a great campaign happening on Twitter to criticize the Turkish government's plan to close down private prep schools. Volunteers of the Hizmet movement are overseeing the campaign by introducing followers to a new trending topic with a new hashtag every day, and since the Hizmet movement has active members in more than 150 countries, their actions on Twitter have exploded.
Education is the Hizmet movement's most important strength. Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen-inspired schools are all over the world, and the annual Turkish Language Olympiad competition shows how far Turkish has reached in the world through the Hizmet movement's schools and the efforts of their devoted educators. Well, the last two weeks have showed us that the Hizmet movement is now teaching its followers a new way of communication: Turco-tweetish. Even though Turkish and English tweets are shared, all the hashtags are in Turkish such as #öğretmenlermutsuzçünkü, #EğitimdeHakArayışınıKARALAMA, etc.
I don't have any statistics right now, but I believe that since the Gezi Park protests, there has not been anything as big as what is currently happening on Twitter. The Hizmet movement's achievement on Twitter has grabbed attention not only in Turkey but also in the international arena. #BBCtrending, an exclusive selection of stories trending on social media around the world, featured online, on BBC World television and in a weekly BBC World Service radio program, reported the news with the title "Turkish Twitter war over education," claiming that "numerous hashtags about the row have been tweeted millions of times over the past week," and that the "row points to deeper tensions between Mr [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan and the Gulen movement."
Actually, the tension is taking up great space in the American media as well. While a Wall Street Journal article said the "new move against preparatory schools is a sign Mr. Erdogan will act more decisively to curb Mr. Gulen's financial, political and public influence," Andrew Finkel wrote in the International New York Times' Latitude opinion section that Gülen had made a statement to his followers via a webcast: "'If the Pharaoh is against you, if Croesus is against you, then you are walking on the right path'," before commenting: "Pharaoh and Croesus presumably were code words for autocracy and corruption. The stage is set for the nation-wide local elections next March. In the meantime, pity the poor children."
For years, educational reforms have been conducted irresponsibly in Turkey and the victims always have been the children and youths. Now, with this ban, it seems that the Turkish government is getting ready to raise a state-controlled "religious generation," as Prime Minister Erdoğan once declared. In this way, there is no room for a civil version of Islam which aims for faithful and spiritual generations who are open to dialogue and are respectful of diversity. Also, when we look at the picture from a different angle, the government has no right to blueprint society by cutting out free enterprise and monopolizing the education market.
So the feud continues, and nobody knows where it will go next. The elections are approaching. It's a puzzle to see what will happen next. Thus I'd like to suggest you learn Turco-tweetish as quickly as you can so you will be able to follow what's going on and show your reactions openly.
Tweeting is great for fast and open communication without a mediator. You can directly tweet to whomever you'd like to contact and follow them to hear their opinion. When you use a proper hashtag, you can be heard and make a difference as we are seeing nowadays. If you have something to say, it's the place to be. Honestly, I believe everybody in Turkey needs it right now!
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