The Turkish Maarif Foundation (TMV), a state-run education body, signed a memorandum of understanding with Central African Republic (CAR) officials on Feb. 9 to take over schools in the country affiliated with the Gülen movement, a worldwide civic initiative inspired by the ideas of Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
Anadolu did not specify how many schools are included in the memorandum signed by the TMV and the CAR.
According to Anadolu, the agreement on the transfer of Gülen-affiliated schools was signed by CAR Education Minister Giseee Bedan, Foreign Minister Sylvie Baipo Temon and Birol Akgün, chairman of the TMV, after Turkish officials met with President Faustin Archange Touadera.
Akredite bulunduğumuz Orta Afrika Cumhuriyeti ile ilişkilerimiz eğitimle güçleniyor. FETÖ okullarının Türkiye Maarif Vakfına devrini öngören anlaşmalar, OAC Milli Eğitim ve Dışişleri Bakanları ile Vakıf Başkanı Prof. Dr. Birol Akgün tarafından imzalandı. pic.twitter.com/NIvorns5TK
— Turkish Embassy in Yaounde (@TC_YaoundeBE) February 9, 2023
“Our relations with the Central African Republic are strengthened through education. The agreements, which provide for the transfer of FETÖ schools to the Turkish Maarif Foundation, were signed by the CAR ministers of national education and foreign affairs and the foundation’s president, Prof. Dr. Birol Akgün,” the Turkish Embassy in the Central African Republic tweeted on Thursday.
FETÖ is a derogatory term coined by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to refer to the Gülen movement, which it accuses of orchestrating a coup attempt, an allegation strongly denied by the movement.
After a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan expanded 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.
According to a statement by Akgün in 2021, the TMV had taken over 216 schools affiliated with the Gülen movement in 44 countries.
The TMV was established by the government in 2016. It has targeted the closure of Gülen-linked educational institutions since the abortive putsch as part of the foreign policy of Turkey’s ruling AKP, which labels the movement as a terrorist organization and accuses it of orchestrating the failed coup.
Although both Gülen and the members of his faith-based group strongly deny any involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activities, Erdoğan’s AKP has jailed some 96,000 people while investigating a total of 622,646 and detaining 301,932 over alleged links to the movement as part of a massive purge launched under the pretext of an anti-coup fight, according to the latest official figures.