Turkey's Erdogan orders 2,340 schools, charities, unions shut

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has issued a decree to close 2,341 institutions - including schools, charities, unions and medical centres - in the wake of last week's failed coup, state-run Anadolu news agency reported Saturday.

The decree - the first to be made under the powers of the state of emergency, according to local media - also extends the legal time a person can be detained to 30 days.

The decree has been entered into the official gazette. A government official insisted that all institutions targeted have connections to the movement of US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen, whom Erdogan blames for the failed putsch.

The measure will now move to parliament, which is dominated by Erdogan's conservative Justice and Development Party (AKP). The legislature has oversight powers on such decrees, adopted as part of the state of emergency which entered into force Thursday.

Turkey has suspended 37,500 civil servants and police officers in the wake of the coup, including many from the Education Ministry, and also revoked the license of 21,000 teachers. The Education Ministry said it was looking to close more than 600 schools.

The number of people detained has surpassed 10,000 while more than 4,000 of those have been arrested. More than 7,000 of those detained are soldiers, including at least 126 generals remanded in custody.

The authorities have started to release about 1,200 soldiers deemed innocent, a government official said.

Turkey has also detained the nephew of Gulen, state broadcaster TRT reported. Muhammet Sait Gulen was picked up in Erzurum, in eastern Turkey, the city where the preacher himself was born.

The rapid pace of arrests since the failed coup on July 15 has worried many of Ankara's Western allies, who even prior to the takeover attempt warned that Turkey was going down an increasingly authoritarian road, expressing concern this was picking up pace.

The two opposition parties to the left of the ruling AKP have both voiced concerns over the state of emergency and the expansion of the government's powers at the expense of checks and balances.

The government has vowed to "cleanse" the civil service from Gulen supporters but said daily life will go on for other citizens.

Ankara has also intensified checks on Turkish citizens leaving the country in a move to prevent people associated with the attempted coup from escaping.

Some 11,000 passports were voided, civil servants have been called back from leave and citizens are required to show proof of employment when trying to leave the country.

Erdogan said the state of emergency, initially announced for three months, is necessary to restore order after the attempted coup, which left 260 dead. Turkey is also demanding that the United States extradite Gulen.

Gulen, a Turkish born cleric, was a one-time ally of Erdogan who fell from the leader's good graces over a number of policy issues and personal clashes, according to officials, reports and insider accounts.

The United States has said it has yet to receive sufficient evidence on Gulen to weigh an extradition request while the cleric denies involvement in the putsch.

On Friday, Erdogan held his first face-to-face meeting with Hakan Fidan, the head of the MIT intelligence agency, since the coup attempt a week prior, CNN Turk reported. The meeting lasted about two hours.

Erdogan has admitted there were intelligence failures in the lead up to the putsch.

In an interview with broadcaster France 24, Erdogan said Fidan and the military chief of staff Hulusi Akar will remain in their posts for the time being.

Last update: Sat, 23/07/2016 - 22:29

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