The date of the establishment and registration of the Canadian Turkish Islamic Foundation, as well as its structure, number of members, mandate, activities, funding and other information, including whether members are followers of Fethullah Gulen [CAN40024.E]

According to the spiritual leader (Imam) and founding director of the Canadian Turkish Islamic Foundation (CTIF), the CTIF was established in 1994 and became a non-profit organization in 1996 (6 Nov. 2002). According to Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, the CTIF registered as a non-profit organization on 1 January 1996 (13 Nov. 2002). The CTIF is not registered with the Ontario Ministry of Consumer and Business Affairs (OnCorp Direct 4 Nov. 2002), or with Industry Canada (4 Nov. 2002).

The CTIF is comprised of two main bodies: the directors and the Executive Committee (CTIF 6 Nov. 2002). The directors are responsible for electing the President of the Foundation, supervising the Executive Committee and planning the activities of the Foundation, while the Executive Committee carries out its day-to-day operations and supervises the volunteers "who make up the backbone of the Foundation" (ibid.). There are nine directors and five executive committee members, all of whom are permanent residents of Canada or Canadian citizens (ibid.). Currently, there are 200 volunteers, although this number fluctuates between 100 and 200 depending on migration trends of volunteers (ibid.).

According to Article 2 of the Foundation's By-Law, the CTIF is a religious and educational, non-political organization that is "free from local, national and world politics" (ibid.). The Foundation has no other branches in Canada, but it does have a "sister organization" in Scarborough called Sunrise Education Trust (ibid.). The Research Directorate made several attempts to contact Sunrise Education Trust, but these proved unsuccessful.

Article 3 of the By-Law makes the following provisions in respect of the Foundation's objectives:

3.1 To maintain and to conduct an Islamic centre.
3.2 To encourage, to teach and to maintain the religion of Islam by conducting religious and educational activities.
3.3 To provide educational programs such as weekend and after school programs for children and youth in the National Capital Region and in other parts of Canada to teach Islamic religion and language, and to attain a better level in their education.
3.4 To cooperate with other organizations which have similar objectives in whole or in part to the objectives of the Foundation.
3.5 To advance the teaching of the Islamic religion by conduct of various ceremonies, such as prayers, performance of marriage ceremonies, funeral prayers and lectures.
3.6 To teach and advance Islamic religion through publications and broadcasting (i.e. newspaper, radio and television) ... (ibid.).

While the activities of the Foundation are guided by Article 3, the Foundation also helps "newcomers" to Canada find accommodation and provides guidance and assistance with respect to their adaptation and spirituality (ibid.). The Foundation also provides weekend cultural school, summer school, youth camps and religious services for the Turkish community in Ottawa (ibid.).

Paragraph 2.3 of Article 2 of the Foundation's By-Law makes the following provision concerning funding for the CTIF:

2.3 For the furtherance of the objectives enumerated herein, the Foundation may obtain funding by means of solicitation of donations, holding of fund raising events, grants, gifts, bequests, from individuals, corporations and from all levels of the Governments (CTIF 6 Nov. 2002).

According to the Imam of the CTIF,

[t]he Foundation is funded through donations and rental income. ... Member[s] of the Foundation and [of the] Turkish community in Ottawa fund our activities through donations. In our Foundation building there are six rooms available for rent. This rental income is used towards building's mortgage expenses (ibid.).

In terms of the Foundation's connection with the Fethullah Gulen movement, the Imam stated that

[the] Canadian Turkish Islamic Foundation is not exclusively serving followers of Fethullah Gulen. As mentioned in our mission statement/mandate, the Foundation serves the Turkish community and provides assistance to newcomers in Ottawa and surrounding areas. Therefore, not all of the supporters of the Foundation are also followers of Fethullah Gulen (ibid.).

However, with respect to letters that he signs for members and volunteers of the CTIF, which have been presented before the IRB, the Imam clarified that "[t]he Foundation does a reference check through sister foundations in Turkey to establish the claimant's involvement in our community" (ibid.). The letters therefore, establish "that the bearer of the letter is associated with Hezmat" (ibid. 29 Nov. 2002). According to the Imam, the usage of the phrase "our community" is a reference to the "Hezmat community in Turkey and Canada" (ibid. 6 Nov. 2002). The Hezmat community allegedly has a presence in every city in Turkey (ibid.).

Information on the Hezmat community in Turkey could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

However, in a May 2000 article, ITAR-TASS noted that the fundamentalist sect of Nurjular, which is headed by Fethullah Gulen, "is sometimes called a community" (28 May 2002).

The Imam also explained that the Foundation does not have a presence in Turkey, nor is it involved in any activities in Turkey (CTIF 6 Nov. 2002), but he added that it's "sister foundations" in Turkey include, among others, Zaman newspaper offices, private high schools, Yamanlar and Fatih College (ibid. 12 Nov. 2002).

Zaman, a daily, political and independent newspaper, with a circulation of 210,000 (The Europa World Year Book 2002 2002) is owned by Fethullah Gulen's community (SAIS Review 1999, 123), which also "has founded over five hundred high schools and seven universities" (ibid.). According to an article posted on Fethullah Gulen's Web site, Yamanlar College is also affiliated with the movement (n.d.).

When asked whether he was aware of an article published in Turkey which claimed that Canada is a possible refuge for followers of Fethullah Gulen, the Imam stated the following:

There have been numerous articles in the Turkish press about the ways and methods to immigrate to Canada. There are numerous consultants marketing their services all over Turkey and there are a number of Turkish and English Websites that give detailed information about refugee status and immigration to Canada.
In addition, there are a number of claimants who were part of [the] Hezmat [community] who have had successful refugee claims. A great deal of information passes from word of mouth in our community and many members of our community are computer literate and retain close ties with friends and family in Turkey....
I remember reading an article in the Turkish press, more than a year ago, related to claiming refugee status in Canada. I cannot remember who wrote it and for which journal (ibid.).

A copy of the aforementioned article could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

For additional information on different aspects of the Fethullah Gulen movement, please consult TUR39724.E of 20 September 2002; TUR38116.E of 22 November 2001; TUR37826.E of 19 September 2001; TUR37577.E of 12 September 2001; TUR37763.E of 11 September 2001; TUR35319.E of 18 September 2000 and TUR34175.E of 10 April 2000.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References


Canada. Canada Customs and Revenue Agency. 13 November 2002. Telephone interview with a Client Services Agent.
_____. Industry Canada. 4 November 2002. Corporations Database Online. http://strategis.ic.gc.ca/cgi-bin/sc_mrksv/corpdir/dataOnline/corpns_se [Accessed 4 Nov. 2002]