Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The affiliation between the Gulen Movement and a large network of U.S. charter schools is now official

New mainstream sources confirm the connection between members of the Gulen Movement and a large network of U.S. charter schools (122+). The association is undeniable. At long last, the American public is gaining knowledge about the Gulen Movement's activities in the U.S. and an honest public conversation about this unusual situation can commence. Since there is no official singular Gulen Movement organization in the U.S. which provides the public with a comprehensive list of the schools operated by its members, a listing of the probable affected charter schools is presented HERE. Learn how the schools serve the movement HERE.  

1. Upcoming Rice University event: "Transnational Religious Nationalism in the New Turkey: The Case of Fethullah Gulen," a presentation by Dr. Joshua Hendrick with a response by Y. [Yuksel] Alp Aslandogan, will take place at the Baker Institute on December 9, 2010.

Joshua D. Hendrick, Ph.D., visiting assistant professor of international studies at the University of Oregon, addresses the conflict between Turkey’s secular and Islamic forces by explaining the organizational impact of the education and business community known as the Gülen Movement. The followers of Fethullah Gülen, one of Turkey's most famous and controversial religious personalities, attract a great deal of international attention because of the extent of their education network, which now spans over 100 countries and includes approximately 100 charter schools in the United States... [my bolding]

2. On October 7, 2010, Dr. Helen Rose Ebaugh, professor at the University of Houston, Department of Sociology, spoke about the financing of the Gulen Movement’s institutions at “Mapping the Gulen Movement,” a conference sponsored by Dialoog Academie, a Gulenist organization in Amsterdam. Here is a partial transcript from the video posted on YouTube.

@ 06:58 - Now also, I interviewed the top CEO’s of some of the Gulen-related institutions. I interviewed Mr. Kabaca at the bank of Bank Asya. I interviewed Mr. Dumanli at Zaman. I interviewed officials at Samanyolu TV, at Kimse Yok Mu , at schools, at Fatih University, at a lot of the media institutions in Turkey. And I wanted to know the history of the establishment of these institutions. Who put up the initial money? Where did it come from? Where did the capital come from? And then how was it sustained?

And I began to notice some patterns, some very strong patterns…

@ 08:02 - The businessmen and other people in the movement – but a lot of the real capital comes from these entrepreneurs – would put up the initial money to buy the land, to build the buildings, and operating capital for the first usually two or three years. And then gradually these institutions, and fast in my estimation, became self-supporting.

The schools [outside the U.S.] for example, charge tuition. They’re private schools and so they charge somewhere between seven and nine thousand a year in tuition. All the schools in which I interviewed also provide scholarships, for somewhere between twenty to twenty-five percent of their students who can’t afford it. But other than that, the students pay tuition, so the schools become self-supporting. Then the sponsors go to another project, in Turkey, or increasingly, outside of Turkey.

@ 11:05 - In Turkey I saw no government money going into these [Gulen] institutions. There’s a little bit in other countries.

I just came from Azerbaijan. I’m tracing the movement now out of Turkey as it’s moved around the world. For example in Azerbaijan the government put up the original land and building where the first school was built in 1993. That was the first school outside of Turkey.

So there’s some government money sometimes in the beginning of the project, but usually these buildings are so dilapidated it takes more to renovate them than they’re worth.

Also in countries like…I was in Melbourne where they also have schools. The government there supports private schools, so the Gulen schools get support just like any other private school.

Do you know in Texas we now have 25 Gulen schools? They’re called charter schools, totally financed by the state, and it’s causing problems...

3. “The Global Imam” by Suzy Hansen in The New Republic, November 10, 2010 online; December 2, 2010 in print.
Even as the movement has sprouted numerous organizations and companies, the schools have remained at the center of the Gülen orbit…Gülenists operate over 1,000 explicitly secular schools and universities in more than 100 countries…

In February 2009, the Texas finals for the Turkish Language Olympiad took place in Houston. Hundreds of students were competing to land spots in the final round…2,500 spectators cheered and waved American and Turkish flags. The hosts of the competition, two Fox-affiliate TV personalities, were both decked out in “traditional Turkish” costumes…

… As one of the young contestants, Dante Villanueva, recited a very long Turkish poem—earnestly and fluently teasing out the awkward 35-syllable words—middle-aged Turkish men in the audience wept.

There’s a decent chance that Dante Villanueva, like many of the other kids in the competition, attended a Gülen charter school. Such schools—many with fuzzy-happy names like Harmony, Magnolia, Pinnacle, and Amity—are only part of the cornucopia of cultural offerings that the movement has brought to the United States…

I asked to see a Gülen-affiliated charter school and was brought to the Harmony Science Academy, a K-12 school and one of 33 charter schools operated across Texas by a group called the Cosmos Foundation. (At both Harmony and another charter school I visited in Washington, D.C., people told me they were nervous about having their schools labeled Gülen institutions. At the same time, almost all of the Turkish men I met at these schools said they sympathized with or were followers of Gülen.) “Did you wonder why this school was founded by a bunch of Turkish men?” I asked the three mothers who’d been dispatched to give me a tour. “Totally oblivious, didn’t even think about it!” a tall, energetic woman named Colleen O’Brien immediately replied in her undulating Texas accent…

4. Motives for the GM's involvement in our public school system are suggested by Nazli Ilicak, a Turkish journalist who received a prison sentence in 2010 for criticizing a Turkish judge. Her comments appeared in Sabah (a Turkish publication): h/t Tom Stellar of the Arizona Daily Star. 
“We discussed the subject among ourselves: If 600 schools are bought this way in the United States – and that’s what the members of the Gulen movement are striving to do, - and if 200 students graduate from each one of these schools, then 120 thousand sympathizers of Turkey join the mainstream out there every year. We are trying to lobby against the Armenian genocide resolution every year. And yet, through education, we can teach tens of thousands of people the Turkish language and our national anthem, introduce them to our culture and win them over. And this is what the Gulen movement is striving for.”

5. Added on 11/21/2010: More admissions from another Anglo-Gulenist, Karen Fontenot. Fontenot admits that she is a member of the Hizmet Movement (Gulen Movement) and that she is on the “advisory board of Gulen schools in Louisiana.” Fontenot is the vice president of the Pelican Educational Foundation  which oversees Abramson Science & Technology Charter School (New Orleans) and Kenilworth Science and Technology Charter School (Baton Rouge). Fontenot speaks at the dinner reception of “Mapping the Gulen Movement,” a conference held in October 2010 at the Dialoog Academie, a Gulenist organization in Amsterdam.
@ 0:47 – “I’ve been involved in the movement since 2005 and I’m fortunate to live with my [co-op?], my husband Dr. Michael Fontenot, and we were asked to present a paper at that conference in 2005 at Rice University...”

@1:50 – “When she [Helen Rose Ebaugh] said that members of the Hizmet Movement – of which I consider myself one, as does Father [Thomas] Mitchel, I agree with him. I’m not a Muslim and I’m not a Turk but I believe that I am a member of the Hizmet Movement. And she said ‘all the members seem to share something in common; you could recognize them.’ And I think we have to attribute that to Fethullah Gulen, because he is the one who saw a need, who communicated the vision, who has done it so eloquently, and also who has provided a place for every single member…”

@3:27 – “To conclude, I’m just going to give a personal account. A few weeks ago, somebody that I work with on the schools – I’m on the advisory board of the schools, the Gulen schools in Louisiana – and he looked at me and he said, “You would make a very good Muslim wife. And I was immensely flattered…”

This is a video about the 2009 Turkish Language Olympiad held in Houston which was mentioned above in #3. It was produced by Ebru News, a Gulenist media organization.

UPDATE ON MARCH 25, 2011: I just learned about this op-ed published April 30, 2010 by a columnist for Today’s Zaman, a daily English-language Turkish newspaper operated by members of the Gulen movement.  Some of the phrases in “A misguided crusade against pious Turks in the US” read near verbatim of what is often posted on comment boards under articles about Gulen charter schools [my bolding]:
…Since the US is a free country, why should it be a problem if pious Turks operate public charter schools, as long as they meet the legal and academic criteria? That's the case with the schools inspired by Gulen's pacifist ideas. Authorities constantly monitor these schools. Had there been any credible evidence of illegal or inappropriate activity, they would have taken the necessary punitive actions (as they should). You may find a few parents or teachers angry with the administration for various reasons at any school. Given the stereotypes about Islam, they may also try to use the “foreign” and “religious” element to bolster their arguments. However, a majority of the students, parents and local authorities believe these schools are making an immense contribution to social peace and justice in the US via education. In a country where there is a serious public education crisis, the last thing one should do is discourage successful entrepreneurs at charter schools…


Tom Hoffman said...


The Perimeter Primate said...

Thanks, Tom.

Anonymous said...

America is catching on to the Gulen Movement. Rapidly expanding in the USA before average Americans learned who exiled Islamic Imam Fethullah Gulen is. A well thought out scheme that is now backfiring on the US Charter Schools managed by known members of the Gulen Movement.
The financing is drying up with all of the Charter school competition from Basic, Inspire, Kidd and other rapidly growing AMERICAN managed charter schools. Frankly, I am amazed that America would allow educational tax money to be managed by non-Americans fresh off the boat from Turkey. Not to mention the Gulen Movements particular fondness for hiring teachers, finance managers, business managers and legal counsel ALL from their native Turkey. What are they trying to hide and keep within their close tightly knit group? Many of these behaviors have and are backfiring on this group as we see the new Gulen Charter School applications being DENIED. This lack of transparency will not be tolerated in the American culture.

nikto said...

I can't wait for Bill Gate's and Eli Broad's next brilliant educational concept:


Coming to a community near you!!

The Perimeter Primate said...

What if investigators discovered a large network of charter schools scattered across America at which Scientologists consistently comprised 99% of the founders, board members, administrators, business managers, as well as 50% of the teachers (including 100% of the character education teachers)?

What if the leaders of these schools denied their connection to Scientology and would only say that some of the staff "might" know about L. Ron Hubbard, but that is because most people have heard of him? And what if the leaders of the schools became upset when their schools were called "Scientology schools," but would be willing to admit that indeed the schools were "L. Ron Hubbard-inspired"?

Insert Mormon and Joseph Smith, or Unification Church/Moonies and Reverend Sun Myung Moon instead, or any other church and prophet that you would like.

Would supporting admitted "Joseph Smith-inspired" charter schools be okay with taxpayers?

What about supporting 122 "Sun Myung Moon-inspired" charter schools that had been established under the radar of Americans, where kids were taught Korean, encouraged to particpate in Moonie organization-sponsored Korean language competitions, and taken on a Moonie-guided trips to South Korea?

What if in order to deceive charter school authorizers, these types of connections and activities were intentionally not included, or were disclosed in a very duplicitous way, in the charter school applications? What if these connections never appeared on websites and were never disclosed to prospective parents?

Would such activity on the part of the charter school operators produce any public outrage?

The Perimeter Primate said...

Demetri Kitsikis from the University of Ottowa was one of the dinner reception testimonial speakers at the Dialoog Academie event.

Excerpt: “Now how do I appreciate the work of Fethullah Gulen? For me, I’m a fanatical of the recreation of the Ottoman Empire.”

From Wikipedia:

Dimitri Kitsikis (born June 2, 1935 in Athens, Greece) is a Greek Turkologist, professor of International Relations and Geopolitics. He is also a poet in the French and Greek languages.

Since he was a child he had an idée fixe. He wanted not only to reconcile Greeks and Turks, but also to unite them into a Greek Turkish Confederation and to revive the Ottoman Empire.

The Perimeter Primate said...

This article about the Gulen Movement published on a United Arab Emirates news site calls it a "religious congregation" that provides training out of the Gulenist dialogue centers.


Reflecting in 32.Gun, which is a popular Turkish news programme, that he had personal contacts with and was lodged by the congregation leader in the US in October, Gulerce had said: "It will be more accurate and reasonable to prefer the phrase ‘Gulen movement' or ‘volunteers' movement' for the congregation.

"The Gulen movement depends on training and dialogue. Dialogue centres were established in 160 countries. Every state of the US has one of these centres. Besides, the centres provide training. One of the financial sources is the Zaman newspaper in Turkey."

The Perimeter Primate said...

FETULLAH GULEN'S MOVEMENT IN CENTRAL ASIA: A BLESSING OR A CURSE?, Central Asia-Caucasus Institute at Johns Hopkins University, 9/1/2009,


1. "It [Gulen movement] provides heavily subsidized, science-oriented and above-average education that is nevertheless criticized for being narrow-minded and uncritical."

2. "However, its numerous critics...have accused the Gulen movement of having a hidden political agenda of promoting Islam by stealth."

3. "Following fundraisers through Himmet, or ‘donation pledge’ meetings, the affiliated businesses sign agreements with authorities to provide education. Most of the teachers are Gulen followers coming from Turkey."

4. "The movement’s ideology is promoted through subtle means. While the schools are nominally secular institutions, they promote Muslim religious education and Turkism indirectly during classes and ‘class hours’ (to use the Soviet term of ethical education delivered in addition to regular classes). "

5. "The movement’s secretive nature, and the inconsistency between the leader’s messages and the practice of his followers has led to growing reactions across Central Asia, where it has generated accusations of hypocrisy and ill will."

"AUTHOR’S BIO: Roman Muzalevsky is an international affairs and security analyst on the former Soviet Union, Caucasus and Central Asia."

The Perimeter Primate said...

"Turkey: Could a Caliphate Make a Comeback?" on, Dec. 3, 2010


The foreign policy of Turkey's governing Justice and Development Party, or AKP, has been described by some as "neo-Ottoman." And now, after a recent shakeup in the state body responsible for overseeing Islam nationally, some experts are wondering whether the AKP is mulling plans to resurrect the Ottoman-era institution of the Caliphate...

Turkey is no stranger to using Islam as an instrument of foreign policy. After the September 11 terrorism tragedy, Ankara went along with US-led efforts to brand it as a counterbalance to al Qaeda. September 11 also helped accelerate efforts by Turkey's most powerful Muslim group, the Fethullah Gulen Movement, to re-brand itself as a leader of interfaith dialogue and tolerance...

The Perimeter Primate said...

More confirmation:

Board Member of Fulton Science Academy and proposed Cape Fear STEM School: "Yes, I am a Fethullah follower"