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Albanian court approves decision to close Gülen-linked school

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An Albanian court on Friday ruled in favor of a government decision to close a school with links to the Gülen movement, a faith-based group accused by Ankara of orchestrating a coup in Turkey in 2016 although it denies any involvement, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Albania’s government was accused of caving in to Turkey’s authoritarian President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan after it abruptly closed a Gülen-linked school on Sept. 22.

After public criticism of the decision, Education Minister Evis Kushi said the school, Mehmet Akif Ersoy College, had its license revoked because the location of the building had been changed without permission and that it no longer met the legal criteria to operate as a school.

Mehmet Akif Ersoy College said it only learned about the closure order from the media and that it would challenge it in court.

It added that on Sept. 14, an inspection was carried out by the Ministry of Education and on Sept. 22 the school was notified by mail that the school does not meet the criteria to continue operations.

Anadolu also reported that a kindergarten that had ties to the Gülen group-affiliated college was also ordered to close.

Many criticized the decision and connected it with Erdoğan’s repeated calls for Albania to close institutions connected with his arch-foe Fethullah Gülen, the inspiration of the movement who has lived in self-imposed exile in the US since 1999.

At its peak, the Gülen movement, a worldwide civic initiative renowned for its educational activities, operated schools in 160 countries, from Afghanistan to the United States. In Turkey, the network had run thousands of educational facilities, including schools, prep schools, universities and dormitories.

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