Debate over the color of philanthropy -

The deputy prime minister, Hayati Yazıcı, in response to a question by Rıdvan Yalçın, a deputy from the Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, said according to data from the General Directorate for Foundations, 61 million lira worth of donations had been received by 39 foundations in Turkey for the period spanning Feb 27, 2008 to Nov. 30, 2008. Donations came from foreign government-based and non-government based institutions. 

The Ensar Foundation, founded in 1979, has Kadir Topbaş, mayor of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, among its 47 founders. Topbaş contributed 50,000 lira to the 370,000 lira coffers of the foundation in 1979. The foundation has concentrated its efforts on education and prepared an interactive CD for learning the Koran to be distributed to all Islamic divinity high schools, or İmam Hatip in Turkish. 

The Ensar Foundation, operational in 30 provinces, has distributed many educational materials to students and came forward with activities, such as preparation courses for high schools and colleges, conferences, seminars, courses on religious matters and charity events. 

Ahmet Şişman, one of the founders and head of the Ensar Foundation, denied media reports that the foundation received $175,000 from the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, saying there had been an error on the list of the General Directorate of Foundations. 

"We only received 17,965 euros and 9,615 euros from the EU’s education programs. Turkey is a candidate country for EU membership and EU donations should not be regarded as foreign support," Şişman said. He added the rest of the donors on the list, including the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, France, Neil Adato and Group Essec were added mistakenly. Şişman said the Ensar Foundation did not accept support from "any U.S.-based group on ideological principles especially in the recent climate in the Middle East and Turkey." 

He said total donations to the foundation were around 27,000 euros, not 70,684 euros as shown in the list of the General Directorate of Foundations. 

The General Directorate of Foundations was expected to comment on the list but had not done so at the time the Daily News went to press. 

Conservative foundations were donation recipients as well, such as the İhlas Foundation, and the International Blue Crescent Assistance Foundation.

The U.S. Embassy in Ankara also donated $12,280 to the International Blue Crescent Foundation. 

The government of Sweden and Swedish charity foundations lent support to nearly all of the foundations. 

As the United States’ Greater Middle East plan raises questions of the times we live in, the Turkish and Middle East Solidarity Foundation received millions of dollars and euros from individuals and foundations of Arab origin. The foundation received $589,980 three times in a row from an individual called Ahmet Salem bin Mahfoz.



Date: 06/01/2009