Tajikistan shuts down Gülen linked schools

DAILY SABAH WITH ANADOLU AGENCY
ISTANBUL
Published

Tajik President Emomali Rahmon has signed a decree to transfer Gülen schools to the state on Thursday.

Saidov Nuriddin Saidovich, Tajikistan's minister of education and science, has previously announced that they will not extend the agreement they had made with the Gülen Movement over permission to operate schools in the country, since they consider the mission of the schools run by the movement as "shadowy."

According to Turkey's Anadolu Agency's report based on Tajikistan's official Hovar agency, seven Tajik-Turkish high schools belonging to Şelale Educational Institutions, which is known to have ties with the Gülen Movement, were transferred to the Tajik state to be operated for high-skilled students.

The decree also authorized the Tajik Ministry of Education to prepare the necessary documents for the transfer while overruling a cabinet decision from 1994 allowing the schools to operate. The Tajik Ministry of Education had previously announced that the agreement with Şelale Educational Institutions expired in 2015.

The Turkish government accuses the Gülen Movement, run by U.S.-based imam Fethullah Gülen, of infiltrating key institutions, including the police, the judiciary and bureaucracy inside Turkey, aiming to overthrow the democratically-elected government.

"The Gülen schools' mission is shadowy," Tajik Education Minister Rohimjon Saidov was quoted as saying in January 2015, adding that the Tajik government will not grant the schools a license unless they come to the conclusion that they had "humane purposes."

There are currently 10 schools in Tajikistan run by the movement. The first school affiliated with the group was opened in the country in 1992. For the last decade, the purposes of the schools have become a hot debate in the Turkish government. There have been numerous demands for their closure by Ankara.

The irregularities and offenses that the movement is allegedly involved in began unsettling some countries around the world where there are dozens of schools owned by the movement. The members of the movement, who are currently accused of attempting to oust the government after orchestrating the Dec. 17 and Dec. 25 operations by using their alleged power within the police and judiciary, has become a matter of unease among the officials of countries that permit the operation of the schools in their lands. The group's alleged purpose of expanding their area of influence to serve their own benefit has gradually become public as a result of Turkish officials' ongoing struggle with the "parallel structure," a term used for members of the Gülen Movement in key government institutions.

The issue has also led to a loss of trust for the schools by both Turkish society and international circles. This year has seen a sharp drop in the number of students attending the schools across Turkey's 81 provinces, with many families transferring their children to other private or public schools. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan while prime minister had called on families to stop enrolling their children in Gülen schools following the surfacing of a string of scandals allegedly involving the movement, which is accused of running what he called a "parallel structure" through its members in the judiciary and law enforcement.

Azerbaijan's Ministry of Taxes announced in late April that they had detected tax irregularities in Çağ Educational Institutions, a network of schools operated by the Gülen Movement. In a statement, ministry officials said a tax probe into the schools finances in October and November of 2013 found a series of tax irregularities and the company was fined. The company operates 13 prep schools in Azerbaijan.

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