Turkey seeks Magufuli's help in closing Gulen-linked schools

Wednesday January 25 2017

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (left) shakes hands with Tanzania's President John Pombe Magufuli after a joint Press conference at the State House in Dar es Salaam, on January 23, 2017. PHOTO | AFP

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in his recent tour to Tanzania appealed for help from his counterpart John Magufuli in flushing out members of Fethullah Gulen's movement from the country.

The Turkish government accuses Mr Gulen, in exile in the United States, of being behind the failed coup in his country in July last year.

Addressing President Magufuli, the Turkish leader said: “It is my hope that your government will support us to eradicate the movement in Africa.”  

Turkey says it has “substantial evidence” of the activities of the ‘terror group’ in Africa.

President Erdogan has been lobbying African countries to close or take over schools linked to the Muslim cleric.

Ankara officially declared Mr Gulen's movement as a terrorist group under the name FETO (Fethullah Terrorist Organisation) last May, stepping up pressure on a network President Erdogan once looked to for help in spreading Turkish cultural influence and commerce overseas.


Mr Gulen has, however, denied any involvement in the abortive putsch.

In Tanzania, there are 11 Feza schools, considered among the best in the country, which are said to have ties to by Mr Gulen.

But the Feza management denies any link with the Muslim cleric. 

Turkey has mandated its overseas educational foundation to take over FETO-linked school.  

Already, over 80 FETO institutions operating abroad, including schools and training centres, have been shut down or taken over by the Turkish government.

"We took over schools in Guinea, Niger and Somalia, and signed memorandums of understanding with the governments of Chad, Burkina Faso, Sudan, Senegal, Gabon, and Mauritania,” Mr Cem Zorlu, the chairman of Turkey's Maarif (Education) Foundation told Anadolu news agency.

President Erdogan was in Tanzania in a bid to strengthen trade ties with Africa. He also toured Mozambique and Madagascar.

Additional reporting from Fumbuka Ng'wanakilala (Reuters)