Turkey’s Ministry of Education suspends 15,000, forces resignation of 1,500 university deans

ANKARA, Turkey, July 19 (UPI) — Turkey’s Ministry of Education has suspended more than 15,000 education staff on accusations of having links to a cleric living in the United States who the Turkish government alleges organized last week’s coup d’etat attempt.

Fethullah Gulen denies involvement in the Friday’s failed coup attempt in which 232 people were killed and 1,541 were wounded. Gulen is a Muslim cleric living in Pennsylvania in self-exile.

Turkey’s high education board has also forced the resignation of more than 1,500 university deans. Since the coup attempt, Turkey’s army, judiciary, security and civil services have been targeted by the administration of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

More than 6,000 military personnel have been arrested, including more than two dozen generals awaiting trial; 9,000 police officers have been fired; and 3,000 judges have been suspended.

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The Turkish media regulation agency on Tuesday revoked the licenses of 24 radio and television channels on accusations of having links to Gulen.

Turkey has also banned religious funerals for those accused of supporting the coup. Imams will be prohibited from performing services for “pro-coup soldiers who targeted our nation,” Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate said Tuesday.

World leaders have urged Erdogan to use restraint and respect the constitution over fears he may act unconstitutionally after the coup attempt. Some officials fear Erdogan’s hard-line response to the coup will lead him to use the incident to crack down on the opposition.

Earlier on Tuesday, Erdogan said he supports reinstating the death penalty “if the people demand it” after the military’s failed coup. Turkey’s parliament plans to discuss reimplementation of the death penalty Wednesday.

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