Gülen-linked school in Burkina Faso to be handed over to Turkish Maarif Foundation

The Turkish Maarif Foundation (TMV), a state-run educational body, will take over schools in Burkina Faso affiliated with the Gülen movement, a worldwide civic initiative inspired by the ideas of Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, Turkish Minute reported, citing the TR724 news website.

The Horizon International School Complex in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, was started in 2003 and has been run by Turkish businessmen affiliated with the movement since then. It is a general school complex comprising a kindergarten, an elementary school and middle and high schools. The schools focus on teaching English, Turkish and computer science.

According to TR724, the schools were expropriated by a cabinet decision earlier this week and are planned to be handed over to the TMV.

The decision said the Turkish government has requested the closure of all schools under “Horizon Education Trusts” since 2017, with the issue also coming up at the 3rd Antalya Diplomacy Forum held in Turkey in March.

Burkina Faso Foreign Minister Karamoko Jean Marie Traore told reporters following the cabinet meeting that the expropriated schools will be transferred to the TMV, adding that the move will ensure compliance with the agreements signed with Turkey and will improve cooperation between the two countries.

Officials from the Horizon Education Trusts told TR724 that they will take the matter to court and will closely follow the process to ensure that the rights of employees are not violated.

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 2023 statement by TMV chairman Birol Akgün, the foundation has taken over more than 200 schools affiliated with the Gülen movement in 20 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 Justice and Development Party (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 arrested tens of thousands of people, fired or suspended from their jobs more than 130,000 and sentenced nearly 3,000 to life in prison over alleged links to the movement as part of a massive purge launched under the pretext of an anti-coup fight.

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