Friday, May 6, 2011

CNN on press suppression in Turkey, Fethullah Gulen, and the Gulen movement

If you follow this blog or my Charter School Scandals blog, you are aware that, for nearly one year, I have been trying to get the word out about the 118+ charter schools being clandestinely operated by members of a foreign, religious movement out of Turkey (the Gulen movement). More schools are opening every year. 

I innocently stumbled across this situation when I started researching news stories about problems at charter schools in mid-May 2010 and an unusual story about a charter school in Utah caught my eye. That story lead me to another one about concerns with a charter school in Arizona. A couple of other things I knew about clicked and the whole thing began to unfold.

Since that time, I’ve developed three pages on Charter School Scandals with information about Gulen charter schools and the Gulen movement (HERE, HERE, and HERE). There's even more information packed into the left-hand column. If you’ve haven't read any of it before, I urge you to do that soon, as this is a story which is in the midst of unfolding. It has been a very strange thing to encounter and I’ve been working very hard to understand it. The whole thing is complicated and has stretched me to learn more about Turkish history and current events than I ever thought I would know. As a result of my curiosity and desire to share what I've learned, anonymous Gulenists have called me a kaz.

The American public’s awareness of this movement has been very slow to build, but two recent articles in the Philadelphia Inquirer (HERE and HERE) probably helped quite a bit. And today CNN presented a piece about the heightened suppression of the press in Turkey and how it relates to Fethullah Gulen and the Gulen movement. 

Since I've become alert to the GM, I've been monitoring news stories, some of which are posted HERE. I will not post promotional material produced by the movement and I have come to recognize when reporters have been manipulated into writing pieces on behalf of the Gulenists, or have produced a piece by copying material from one of their press releases, being too lazy to think critically or do one bit of their own research.

Click here to watch CNN’s video segment of 06 May 2011 (3:12 min.)

Excerpt from the text which accompanies the video [emphasis added]:
From his home in exile on a farm in Pennsylvania, Gulen is the inspirational leader of an enormous network of schools and universities operating in more than 120 countries around the world. He speaks to his followers through a small empire of pro-Gulen newspapers, publication houses and TV stations in Turkey as well as over the internet. During his victory speech after winning a referendum on constitutional reform last year, Erdogan took care to thank his "friends across the ocean"...code-words for the Gulen movement.

"The government... and the Fethullah Gulen group are the taboos in Turkey. It is very dangerous to write about these in Turkey and I write about them," said investigative journalist Sener said in his November 2010 CNN interview.
Ihsan Yilmaz of Fatih University is featured at 1:40 min. Fatih is one of the universities operated by the Gulen movement. Google "Ihsan Yilmaz" + gulen to see his many connections.

And a disillusioned-looking Andrew Finkel is featured at 2:25 min. Finkel had been a columnist for Today’s Zaman until a few weeks ago when he wrote a piece speaking out against the arrests. This displeased his employer who promptly fired him. Zaman is a Gulenist-operated publication. Finkel’s piece was then published by a non-Gulenist newspaper, the Hurriyet Daily News. From Finkel's “A Dilemma”
It was a bit over three years ago that I was recruited to write this column for this newspaper (Today’s Zaman). I remember the conversation well. The editor-in-chief anticipated that I might be hesitant to associate myself with a press group whose prejudices and principles might not always coincide with my own. He explained what I knew already, that the Zaman Group supported and was supported by the Fetullah Gülen Community and that I would have to take that on board…

I have already expressed my concern that the fight against anti-democratic forces in Turkey has resorted to self-defeating anti-democratic methods. This in turn has led to a polarization in Turkey. If your side loses power then the natural fear is that they will use your methods against you. In case this sounds like I am speaking in riddles, I am referring to the aggressive prosecution of people who write books. These may be bad books, they may be books which are written with ulterior motives, they may be books which contain assertions which are not true. But at the end of the day, they are books – and there are libel courts – not criminal courts – designed to protect individuals from malicious falsehood. In short, writing a book offensive to the Gülen community is not a crime…
Finkel describes the scene in "Turkey's Muzzled Muckrakers" (New York Times 06 April 2011).
Imagine if back in the days of Watergate, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein had been put on trial for being part of the very conspiracy they were trying to uncover. Then suppose a large section of the Washington press corps proceeded to pat federal prosecutors on the back for a job well done.

Such is the life of a journalist in today’s Turkey — a world in which the justice system punishes the innocent while the Fourth Estate turns a blind eye. Turkey now holds the dubious record for being the country with the most imprisoned journalists — 57 according to a report by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe…

…recently, prosecutors ordered the detention of two respected journalists, Nedim Sener and Ahmet Sik, who were once supporters of the Ergenekon trial.

…Sik’s unpublished manuscript, which the police tried and failed to ban before it began freely circulating on the Internet, pointed a finger at a prominent religious group known as the Gülen movement...
A lot of serious issues are heating up in Turkey. Keep in mind it is a country in an extraordinarily strategic geopolitical location which currently hosts important US military air bases (Izmir and Incirlik) and has been undergoing the process of trying to join the EU for the past few years.

Finding my way

Over the past year, I have found the information from these four sources to be particularly valuable. 

In addition to what I've posted at Charter School Scandals, I've done a series of posts on the Perimeter Primate about various things I've uncovered. Being totally clueless about all of this when I started last year, I've tried my best to find that balance between what the extreme Islamophobes and the Gulenist sympathizers have to say. I still cannot shake the feeling that a group like this running so many U.S. charter schools -- without the students' parents, and the broad American public, knowing about such involvement -- is highly disturbing. I know "The Community" won't be pleased with this post.

June 2010
July 2010
  • Gulen schools and their booming H1B visa applications: The Gulen charter school operators apply for a spectacularly high number of H1B visas in order to fellow members of the movement to the U.S. from Turkey and Central Asia to teach at their schools.
  • Learning to love Turkey: The Turkish Olympiad pageant is the hallmark event of the Gulen charter schools around the world. This post features an assortment of American students displaying their Turkishness.
August 2010
November 2010
January 2011
February 2011
March 2011
April 2011



The Perimeter Primate said...

Interesting observations @

The Perimeter Primate said...

Here's a taste of how Gulen thinks and what he tells his followers.

Gülen: Smear campaign under way against people who promote Turkish culture worldwide


Turkish intellectual and scholar Fethullah Gülen has said a smear campaign – with accompanying propaganda -- is under way against people who exert the utmost efforts to introduce Turkish culture to the rest of the world, calling for common sense in reaction to the makers of the campaign and the propaganda...

Gülen's remarks came in clear response to a recent smear campaign against the Gülen movement and its followers. The Gülen movement is a group of volunteers engaged in interfaith and intercultural dialogue inspired by the ideas of Gülen, whose teachings promote mutual understanding and tolerance between cultures [MY QUESTION: JUST HOW ARE THE CHARTER SCHOOL TEACHERS 'VOLUNTEERS' IF THEY ARE ALL GETTING PAID BY US TAX DOLLARS TO DO THEIR GULENIST WORK?]. Now residing in the US, Gülen has pioneered educational activities in a number of countries, along with efforts to promote intercultural and interfaith activities around the world...

The scholar also said followers or members of the movement should be very careful with regard to plans and attempts of opponents of the movement to “throw mud at the movement.” “These people [members of the Gülen movement] are serving in all corners of the world. If some people intend to throw mud at the movement, we should not allow them or provide them with expected means. A tiny mark on one of us may be attributed to the entire movement. No individual [member of the movement] should carry marks. He may lose his arm, head or life, if necessary, but he should avoid any mark on himself. We need to pay extra attention,” he stated...

The Perimeter Primate said...

May 17, 2001, WBNS-10TV news report (Columbus, OH): "Ohio Charter School's Recruitment Of Turkish Teachers Questioned"

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The federal government on Tuesday was investigating the recruitment of teachers by an Ohio charter school company that operates several central Ohio academies.

Concept Schools, which operates Horizon Science Academy schools on the city's north side and Noble Academy on the northwest side, is in the middle of an investigation into travel and immigration expenses it paid to recruit math and science teachers, 10TV's Tanisha Mallett reported.

10TV News obtained a letter sent to parents by Concept Schools that says it paid travel and immigration expenses for 19 employees from Turkey, and some of their family members, totaling about $13,000.

Some of the teachers taught at Horizon Science Academy High School on Morse Road, Mallett reported.

The school said that the expenses for the employees were approved by the state auditor, but officials said expenses related to spouses and family members of the teachers were not, Mallett reported.

Concept Schools said it thought it could pay expenses for spouses and children of employees like any private company would and pointed out that 95 percent of its students graduate from high school and 100 percent of those students are accepted to college.

Concept Schools said it has recruited overseas because there is a nationwide shortage of qualified math and science teachers.

The Ohio Education Association said Ohio has 50 nationally-accredited teacher preparation programs that produce highly qualified teachers in math and science under Ohio licensure requirements.