Turkish teachers linked to Gülen movement detained in Afghanistan

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One Afghan and three Turkish teachers linked to the faith-based Gülen movement were detained by Afghan intelligence officials on Tuesday, Reuters reported.

The move against Afghan Turk CAG Educational NGO (ATCE), the organization that runs the schools, appeared to be part of a witch-hunt being waged on followers of Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, accused by the Turkish government of masterminding a coup attempt in July 2016.

The ATCE, which says it is an independent organization, runs schools in several cities including the capital, Kabul, Mazar-i-Sharif, Kandahar and Herat and has been in Afghanistan since 1995.

“Around 7 am, four of our teachers traveling in two different cars were picked up by [Afghan intelligence],” said ATCE Chairman Numan Erdoğan.

Other intelligence officials later went to the group’s girls school nearby looking for another teacher, he said.

He said the men presented themselves as members of the National Directorate of Security (NDS), Afghanistan’s intelligence agency, according to Reuters.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was on his way to Istanbul on Tuesday to attend an Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit.

In March Afghanistan ordered the schools to be transferred to a foundation approved by Ankara.

Last year, shortly before a visit to Islamabad by the Turkish president, Pakistan ordered Turkish teachers at schools run by a body called PakTurk International Schools and Colleges to leave the country.

Gülen, a former ally of Erdogan who now lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, promotes a moderate form of Islam, supporting inter-faith communication and Western-style education and inspiring schools in various parts of the world.

He and the group he inspired have denied any involvement in the failed coup attempt of 2016.

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