By Haydar Karaalp
BAGHDAD (AA) - Turkey's Maarif Foundation -- founded to replace terrorist-linked schools abroad in the wake of a defeated 2016 coup attempt -- started the school year in Baghdad, Iraq.
A ceremony was held in a school run by the foundation in Ziyouna neighborhood, where Turkey’s Ambassador to Iraq Fatih Yildiz and Maarif coordinator in the country Emin Simsek were in attendance.
Addressing the opening ceremony, Yildiz thanked parents for trusting Turkey’s public education body abroad, stressing that Turkey supports the schools which provide education in line with international standards.
Maarif’s Simsek, for his part, said the foundation has been operating in Iraq for the second consecutive year.
Around 2,000 students study in 10 schools of the Maarif Foundation in Iraq, including 1,200 in Baghdad and 800 in Erbil.
The Turkish government set up the Turkish Maarif Foundation soon after the 2016 defeated coup, orchestrated by Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) with an aim to administer overseas schools linked to FETO.
The foundation has also established schools and education centers in various continents, from Africa to Asia, over the last three years.
FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup in Turkey, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
FETO also has a considerable presence outside Turkey, including private schools that serve as a revenue stream for the terrorist group.
Ankara accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.
* Writing by Mahmoud Barakat