Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Gov’t to weigh Turkey's call to close Zaman schools

Gov’t to weigh Turkey's call to close Zaman schools

A security guard directs traffic outside a Zaman International School earlier this week.
A security guard directs traffic outside a Zaman International School earlier this week. Hong Menea

Gov’t to weigh Turkey's call to close Zaman schools

Cambodia will have to give “serious consideration” to Turkey’s request that it shut down the Zaman International secondary and primary school in Phnom Penh along with Zaman University, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Chum Sounry said yesterday.

During a press conference on Monday, Turkish Ambassador Ilhan Tug said his country was seeking the closure of all schools affiliated with the Gulen Movement, founded by cleric Fehullah Gulen, who has been labelled a terrorist by Turkey since 2013 and accused of being behind the recent attempted coup.

But while Sounry claimed Turkey has yet to issue a formal request for action against the Zaman branches, Tug yesterday said it had been done more than once. “Many times during formal meetings with the Cambodian government we have expressed this desire,” Tug said.

Whether or not Turkey had the political capital to see that desire enacted, however, was questioned by analysts.

“I don’t see any connection whatsoever,” Southeast Asia analyst Carl Thayer said in reference to allegations that Zaman’s “Gulenist” roots equate to a terror connection. “Turkey’s firing wildly”.

Thayer said he believes the schools are more important to Cambodia than complying with Turkey’s wishes, saying “they are providing education and competition”.

Thayer did, however, acknowledge a precedent of shutting down Saudi-funded schools during increased fears of Islamic extremism in 2003, but hoped the government wouldn’t “overreact”.

Policy analyst and political commentator Ou Virak also expressed doubts the schools would be shut down. “I don’t think the Turkish government has a lot of influence,” he said. “[They’re] not a major donor.”

Zaman Company, which runs the schools, yesterday released a statement expressing “confidence of innocence” and saying they had not ruled out possible legal action against the Turkish government for defamation.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia unveils new quarantine regulations

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Cambodia sets new Covid-19 quarantine rules

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Hun Sen: Cambodia set to fully reopen

    Prime Minister Hun Sen concludes that the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, during which many people either flocked to their hometowns for family reunion or gathered at tourist attractions across the country, has not caused an outbreak of Covid-19. In a special address to

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’

  • Cambodia resumes issuance of tourist visas

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has announced the resumption of its tourist visa and visa exemption programme after a long hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In a letter dated October 20 and addressed to foreign embassies and consulates, foreign minister Prak Sokhonn

  • S’ville set to turn into ‘second Shenzhen’

    The Ministry of Economy and Finance has awarded a master plan consultancy contract to top Chinese institute for the development and transformation of Preah Sihanouk province into a “Model Multi-Purpose Special Economic Zone”, Southeast Asia’s next logistics and resort hub and innovation centre. The