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Afghan security forces raid three Gülen-linked high schools

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Police in Afghanistan on Friday carried out raids to take over three high schools operated by the Gülen movement, the MedyaBold news website reported on Friday.

After raiding two high schools in Mazar-i Sharif at around 2:30 a.m., the Afghan police shortly thereafter broke down the doors of another school in Herat. The Afghan and Turkish employees of the schools as well as a few students were detained.

Meanwhile, video footage claimed to be of the incident and shared on social media showed female students screaming after they were woken up by the raids while sleeping in their dorm.

The Afghan security forces were reportedly acting at the request of the Turkish government, which has been putting political pressure on Afghanistan, as with many other countries, to hand over the Gülen-linked schools to Turkey’s state-run Maarif Foundation, as part of its diplomatic offensive to crack down on the movement’s educational network outside of Turkey.

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported that the schools were taken over upon a court order and would soon be handed over to Maarif, citing Afghan officials.

In February 2018, Afghanistan’s Ministry of Education had formally announced the transfer of Afghan-Turk schools to the Turkish government in defiance of calls by parents and students to keep to schools under Afghan control.

Previous raids to hand over several other movement schools based in Shibirghan and Herat were met with the reaction of outraged parents and the protests of students as they were conducted during the daylight hours. Some parents even had prevented officials from Maarif and members of Turkey’s diplomatic missions from entering the premises.

The protests in Shibirghan in July 2018 were violently suppressed by militia under the command of Uzbek leader Abdul Rashid Dostum, the controversial first vice president of Afghanistan who has been accused of abducting and torturing a political rival and is a close friend of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Following a 2016 failed coup attempt which claimed the lives of 249 people, Erdoğan launched an all-out war on the Gülen movement which he accused of masterminding the abortive putsch.

Even though the movement’s US-based leader Fethullah Gülen denied having any role in the coup attempt and called for an international investigation, it didn’t stop Erdoğan, who once qualified the coup as a “gift from God,” and his governing party from leading a massive crackdown on the movement in and outside of Turkey.

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