Studying for Integration: Gülen School in Switzerland

The Fethullah Gülen movement has been growing in influence across the world, and that
includes Switzerland. The Sera School, opened in August 2009, was portrayed only a
few months later by the magazine Beobachter as a questionable organization linked to
Gülen’s network, which was promoting the creation of a parallel society in Switzerland.
The Sera School does not deny that they are inspired by the Gülen movement, but say that
Gülen stands for a tolerant, cosmopolitan form of Islam, where the emphasis is put on education.
Integration is an important goal of the school, which prohibits the use of Turkish on school
grounds, despite the fact that most teachers and students are of Turkish background. The school
principal, Suat Özdemir, states that the aim of the Sera School is not to replace the public
school system, but rather to help address the particular problems that children from migratory
backgrounds might face. At the same time, the school maintains close contact with the parents,
something which is greatly facilitated by the shared use of the Turkish language. Ultimately, the
school sees itself as a bridge, helping to integrate Turkish immigrant children into the normal
public education system, while also encouraging them to pursue further their studies.

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