Turkey's ambassador to Uganda has expressed confidence that Kampala will take the necessary steps to transfer schools linked to the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) to Turkey's Maarif Foundation.
Sedef Yavuzalp told Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview that the Turkish embassy in Kampala is cooperating with the Ugandan government and continues to follow up on the issue.
"We are confident that the government of Uganda will take the necessary action to transfer these schools to the Turkish Maarif Foundation; it is important for the future of Uganda," she said.
The Maarif Foundation was established after the July 2016 coup attempt to take over the administration of overseas schools linked to FETÖ, which is behind the defeated coup that left at least 248 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
The body also establishes schools and education centers abroad.
Many African countries, including Senegal, Mauritania, Chad, Gabon, Burkina Faso, Sao Tome, Guinea, Niger and Somalia, have signed agreements regarding the handover of FETÖ-linked schools, according to the Maarif Foundation.
Yavuzalp described FETÖ's operations worldwide as "vicious and secretive" and involving the training of students "by brainwashing them to become elements of the terrorist organization."
"They also have these schools here, and they are very dangerous because they indoctrinate young minds," she underlined.
Officials from the Maarif Foundation visited Uganda in mid-December, and according to Yavuzalp, "Informed President Yoweri Museveni and other high-level government officials of the dangers of these schools run by FETÖ."
She noted that the organization has a presence in 170 countries worldwide and owns thousands of schools.
"In Turkey they have been shut down, and all the terrorists have been removed from the Turkish state system," she said.
Worse than a terrorist organization
The ambassador stressed that the Uganda's government and people have to know that FETÖ, "which is being controlled from outside," is "dangerous just like any terrorist organization and even far worse."
She emphasized that FETÖ members in Turkey are undergoing fair trials "if they have been implicated directly with the July 2016 coup attempt," while those found innocent are released.
Turkey and Uganda have enjoyed bilateral relations ever since the Turkish embassy was established in the African country in 2010. Turkey also extended its friendship by opening up a Ugandan embassy in Ankara in 2011.
Yavuzalp said, "Since then, we have been working at increasing and strengthening the level of our relations."
In 2010, President Museveni paid a visit to Ankara, which was followed by a trip to Uganda by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2016.
During Erdogan's visit, Turkey signed six agreements and one joint declaration with Uganda that streamlined the legal framework of bilateral relations. One of the agreements involved Turkey offering scholarships to Ugandan students.
According to Yavuzalp, "The criterion does not depend on religion because we are a secular country, and everyone who qualifies does so on merit."
Between 2010 and 2017, Turkey offered 200 scholarships to Ugandan students for undergraduate, graduate and doctoral studies.
Under the Turkish Presidency of Religious Affairs, Ugandan students were also awarded 110 scholarships in 2015 and 2016.
"Year to year, the number keeps increasing, and it all depends on the success of the students during the interviews," Yavuzalp underlined.
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