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Turkey Asks Pakistan To Close Gulen-Linked Schools

  • RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal

Pakistan says it will investigate a network of schools in the country that Turkey has asked to be shut down due to its ties to a U.S.-based Muslim cleric that Ankara blames for last month's failed coup.

But Sartaj Aziz, Pakistan's foreign policy chief, refused to agree to close the schools after holding talks with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Islamabad on August 2.

Cavusoglu said he expressed the hope in his discussions that schools linked to Fethullah Gulen and his religious movement, which he called a "terrorist group," would be closed.

Gulen has condemned the coup and denied any involvement in the July 15 attempt by a Turkish military faction to take power. More than 230 people were killed in the coup attempt.

There are some 11,000 students studying at 25 schools and colleges in Pakistan run by Gulen's organization. Some 900 Pakistanis work at the schools.

"I am studying here for the last 10 years," a female student at one such school told RFE/RL. "I don't know Gulen and did not hear even the name in all those years."

Teachers said they would resent any plan to shut down the schools.

Gulen's organization operates schools in 160 countries around the world.

Kyrgyzstan rebuked Turkey last week for calling on the Kyrgyz government to shut down Gulen schools.

With reporting by dpa and Reuters
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