Turkey has taken over 12 schools and three tuition centres linked to the Fethullah Gülen movement in Afghanistan, the Turkish government-run Anadolu agency reported.
The schools will be operated by state-run education foundation, the Turkish Maarif Foundation, Anadolu said .
Turkish Education Minister Ismet Yilmaz and his Afghan counterpart Mohammad Ibrahim Shinwari completed the handover at a ceremony in Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul. Turkey enjoys good military and diplomatic relations with Afghanistan after taking part in a NATO force in Kabul for many years after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
The Turkish government blames the Gülen movement, led by Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen from his home in the United States, for carrying out a failed military coup in July 2016 in which more than 200 people were killed. Gülen denies the charges. Turkey is calling on countries around the world to close down Gülen’s schools or hand them over to Turkish state control.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan began a trip to Africa this week, during which he is expected to pressure governments to take action against schools there. He has also criticised the United States for failing to hand over Gülen.
Turkey established the Maarif Foundation in 2016 to take over the administration of overseas schools linked to Gülen, Anadolu said.
Turkey has arrested tens of thousands of alleged followers of the movement, which officially preaches religious tolerance and a moderate form of Islam, on terrorism charges since the coup attempt. Many members, who reached senior positions in the police, judiciary, education, media and the bureaucracy, are yet to face trial as Turkey’s state of emergency continues. The movement is said to have a million or more supporters in the country.