Turkey will urge African education ministers to close Gülen schools

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Increasing the pressure on African countries for the closure of schools run by people linked to the Gülen movement, the Turkish government will host African education ministers next week to discuss the handing over of the schools to Turkey, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Saturday.

According to the report, the schools will be discussed at a three-day conference in Istanbul between Oct 19-21.

Turkish Education Minister İsmet Yılmaz in September called on the ambassadors of African countries to ask their governments to close schools affiliated with the faith-based Gülen movement.

Yılmaz warned ambassadors about Gülen supporters living in African countries and said Turkey’s Maarif Foundation was working on taking over Gülen-affiliated schools and opening new schools in African countries.

A military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 killed 249 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Gülen, whose views inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but Erdoğan and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Erdoğan also launched a witch-hunt against Gülen followers worldwide, asking several countries to close down Gülen-affiliated schools and institutions as well as to detain and extradite teachers, businessmen and their families who sympathize with the movement.

Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15, 2016 through government decrees issued as part of the state of emergency.

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