Newly appointed ÖSYM head praises deceased Islamist cult leader

It has come to light that the newly appointed head of ÖSYM, the state body responsible for national-level exams, previously praised the deceased leader of the Islamist İsmailağa Community with the remarks of “rose-faced” and “your reverence.”

This collage photo shows the newly appointed head of ÖSYM, Bayram Ali Ersoy (L) and the decased Islamist İsmailağa Community leader Mahmut Ustaosmanoğlu.

Duvar English

It has come out light that the newly appointed head of Turkey's Student Selection and Placement Center (ÖSYM), Prof. Dr. Bayram Ali Ersoy, had praised Islamist İsmailağa Community leader Mahmut Ustaosmanoğlu after the latter's death in June.

Ersoy released his message of compliments for the cult leader in a Twitter post on June 23, but since Ersoy closed his Twitter account after being appointed as the ÖSYM head, there is only a screenshot of the relevant post which was shared by a member of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) High Disciplinary Council.

The post shows Ersoy referring to the deceased Islamist cult leader as “rose-faced” and “your reverence.”

CHP High Disciplinary Council member Bülent Maraklı criticized Ersoy over his remarks, writing: “Although the new ÖSYM head closed his Twitter account the moment he was appointed, a couple of his tweets can be accessed thanks to Google. We have now an ÖSYM head who calls a cult leader 'your reverence.' The important thing is not the change of the appointees, but of the one who appoints them. We will change that.”

Earlier this week, with a midnight decree, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğanreplaced the ÖYSM head in the face of allegations that some questions of the Public Personnel Selection Exam (KPSS) were leaked. Erdoğan instead appointed Ersoy for the post.

Meanwhile, journalist and Habertürk columnist Fatih Altaylı criticized the infiltration of Islamist cults into the state organs, in a not-so-veiled reference to Ersoy. 

In his column on Aug. 5, Altaylı wrote that the government “was continuing on the same way” as before in terms of working hand in hand with cults. “They are swaying from one cult to another cult. But they are not putting the merit system into place instead of cult connections. And then later, they say, 'We were mistaken, we were deceived. Let God forgive us,'” Altaylı wrote.

Erdoğan had previously expressed regret over his once-friendly relations with U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, saying that he had been “mistaken and deceived” on the issue.

The number of Islamic cults that are known to have close ties to Erdoğan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is known to be on the rise in Turkey in recent years.

The AKP’s relations with religious cults have been a subject of debate, especially after the July 15, 2016 attempted coup – widely believed to have been orchestrated by the Gülen network.