Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
A group of Turkish citizens were not allowed to enter Tanzania and were sent back to Turkey for security reasons on the day of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s recent visit to the country.
The Turkish Embassy has requested an explanation for the refusal, with the Tanzanian Foreign Ministry citing security concerns, a Foreign Ministry official told the Hürriyet Daily News.
The official noted that members of the Islamist Humanitarian Relief Organization (İHH) were on the plane that departed from Turkey to Tanzania, while adding that they do not have believe the move particularly targeted its members.
President Erdoğan was informed about the refusal during the visit and asked Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu for a diplomatic intervention, after which the Turkish Embassy in Dar es Salaam sent a diplomatic note to the Foreign Ministry of Tanzania.
The authorities of Tanzania reportedly did not notify the Turkish Embassy before the rejection.
During his official visit, President Erdogan on Jan. 23 asked his Tanzanian counterpart John Magufuli to take action against the network of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, which he blames for last year’s failed coup in Turkey.
The Gülen movement is linked to a network of schools across the world, including in Africa, and the Turkish president is trying to rally leaders on the continent to help him fight the influence of his longtime rival.
“The party that wants to overthrow me isn’t only in Turkey ... I am convinced that Tanzania will from now on take measures against this terrorist organization,” Erdogan said after meeting Magufuli.
Turkish officials accuse Gülen of using his vast private education network to build influence, and of running a “parallel state” inside Turkey.
Erdoğan’s five-day tour also took him to Mozambique and Madagascar.