A 79-year-old retired teacher has accused the Menzil religious sect, a group bolstered by governmental support and known for its expansive presence in Turkey’s public and business sectors, of coercing her into donating her inherited property. The dispute centres around an apartment in the Fatih district of Istanbul, a legacy from her family, which became the subject of a legal battle initiated by the teacher in 2017.
The members of the sect, who approached her in 2011 purportedly representing the religious Semerkand Foundation, allegedly convinced her that her death was imminent and that donating her property was not only a moral duty but also a religious necessity. The teacher took legal action against Yakup Alarçin, the erstwhile leader of the Menzil-affiliated foundation, claiming she had been deceived into making the donations.
She testified to donating four of her six apartments and signing a donation contract. For the remaining two apartments, for which she did not hold deeds, she entered into a sales agreement with Alarçin for 100,000 Turkish Lira (168,000 USD).
In court, she conveyed her sense of vulnerability and the indignities she faced upon relinquishing her assets, stating that she was left with nothing to live on and had received poor treatment when attempting to engage with the sect’s representatives.