Turkey’s Maarif Foundation has so far taken over 145 Gülen schools in 34 countries, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Friday.
The figures were announced by Maarif Chairman Birol Akgün, who was speaking at an academic symposium in the eastern province of Van.
“We currently operate 179 schools in 33 countries, 117 of which were transferred from ‘FETO’ groups while the rest were established by our foundation. To this figure we should also add the 28 schools in Pakistan [that will soon be taken over],” Akgün said, referring to a recent ruling by the Supreme Court of Pakistan ordering the transfer of Gülen schools to Maarif.
FETO is a derogatory term coined by Turkish government circles to refer to the faith-based Gülen movement.
Suggesting that Maarif is currently in touch with nearly 100 countries and is represented in 55 of them, Akgün added that Pakistan is set to become the 34th country in which it will be operational in terms of schools.
“Pakistan had a prominent place in the organization of ‘FETO’ with a remarkable educational network. This is a significant and crucial development for Turkey as well as for Maarif,” Akgün claimed, adding that the takeover of Gülen schools would continue in the future.
Maarif was established prior to a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 through legislation in the Turkish parliament. After the abortive putsch, it targeted the closure of Gülen-linked educational institutions as part of Turkish foreign policy.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) pursued a crackdown on the Gülen movement following corruption operations in December 2013 in which the inner circle of the government and then-Prime Minister Erdoğan were implicated.
Despite the movement strongly denying involvement in the failed 2016 coup, Erdoğan launched a global and national witch-hunt targeting the movement.