Afghanistan has ordered a network of schools run by an organisation regarded with suspicion by the Turkish government to be transferred to a foundation approved by Ankara, Afghan officials said.
The move against Afghan Turk CAG Educational NGO (ATCE), the body that runs the schools, appears to be part of Turkey’s campaign against followers of Fethullah Gülen, a U.S.-based preacher, the main suspect behind the foiled July 15, 2016 coup attempt in the country.
ATCE, which says it is an independent organization, runs schools in several cities including the capital, Kabul, Mazar-i-Sharif, Kandahar and Herat and has been in Afghanistan since 1995.
Acting Education Minister Shafiq Samim said the Turkish government had asked for the schools to be placed under the Maarif Vakfı, a Turkish educational and charitable foundation.
He said there would be a “gradual transition” of staff but the government would not expel any of the schools’ Turkish teachers.
“Turkish teachers are our guests and there has not been any decision to expel them,” he told a news conference on Saturday, adding that the schools would continue to operate.
ATCE Chairman Numan Erdoğan said his organization had not yet received any government notification, and would challenge any decision to take away management of the schools.
“We have nothing to do with developments in Turkey, none of our teachers is implicated and any allegations against us about that are baseless,” he said.
Last year, shortly before a visit to Islamabad by Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan, Pakistan ordered Turkish teachers at schools run by a body called PakTurk International Schools and Colleges to leave the country.