Afghan security forces raid three Gülen-linked high schools

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.

The Maarif Foundation is claimed to have been established to spread President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Islamist ideology abroad. The management structure of Maarif is entirely controlled by Erdoğan, who has the power to appoint four members of the 12-member board of trustees, the executive decision-making body of Maarif, directly, and three members thorough the Cabinet, which he chairs. These seven members are considered to be standing members, while the rest are described as representatives who will be selected from the ministries of foreign affairs and finance as well as the Higher Educational Board (YÖK). In other words, Erdoğan not only appoints key members to the board but also reduces the profile of bureaucrats who will represent relevant public institutions on the board. The seven members also form the board of directors, which manages the daily business of the foundation.

Article 4 of the law governing Maarif also grants administrators of the foundation the right to carry diplomatic passports and provides them with rights and privileges equivalent to a diplomatic attaché. Since they are able to serve until the age of 72, these Islamist operatives can freely travel all over the world under diplomatic cover. The teachers and school principals employed by Maarif are to be treated as government officials tasked with overseas assignments and will benefit from all privileges awarded to such officials under Turkish passport law. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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