Turkey blacklists international universities for alleged ties to Gulen

A Turkish protester holds a banner depicting Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, and the U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gülen, right, during an anti-government demonstration on Dec. 30, 2013, in Istanbul, Turkey

Turkey has blacklisted at least 29 universities around the globe for alleged ties to the Fethullah Gulen Movement, which Ankara accuses of spearheading last year’s coup attempt.

The accreditation of 29 universities in 17 countries has been revoked by the country’s Higher Education Council (YOK).

Six universities in the US, three in Austria, two in Poland and two in Iraq have been affected by the move. Institutions in Albania, Colombia, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Nigeria, Cambodia, Belgium, Romania, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Georgia and Bosnia are also on the list.

30 students studying in the UK were also stripped of their scholarships for alleged ties to the Gulen Movement in November, the Times reported.

According to a report in Belgian daily Het Laatste Nieuws last week, a Turkish student who obtained a degree from Belgian institute KU Leuven and applied for it to be recognised by local Turkish authorities at the end of last year, was rejected because the university was “linked to the terrorist Gulen movement.”

More than 7,000 academics have been dismissed from their posts by decree law following the coup attempt. The purge has also targeted the judiciary, army and media, with more than 100,000 people targeted.

US-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen has denied involvement in the coup. Intelligence reports from the EU, Germany and the UK have said that at least four groups were involved in the failed military intervention, including some Gulen followers, but that the coup was not masterminded or led by the cleric.

The reclusive cleric, a proponent of Turkish-Islamic ideology and one-time ally of the Erdogan government, has a network of chartered schools across the world. His ‘Hizmet (Service) Movement’ been accused of using the institutions to indoctrinate students and channeling state funds to other Gulenist vendors.