Tuesday, May 24, 2011

BBC news story hot off the press

Gulen Movement on BBC Radio4 (May 24, 2011): “Edward Stourton investigates the Islamic Gulen movement in Turkey whose influence permeates right around the world.” 

@1:20 min.
…Many of the students here are fee-paying, but scholarships for bright children from poor backgrounds are a big feature of Gulen schools. They began in Turkey, but they’ve now spread everywhere from Kazakhstan to Texas…there’s even one in Britain…
Note how the piece says “fee-paying” with scholarship supplementation? Outside the U.S., Gulen schools are tuition-based and private, NOT publicly-funded!

It is only in the U.S., with our pathetically-monitored charter school system (of which members of the Gulen movement have taken advantage), where this amorphous but highly-organized and driven group is running their schools with hard-earned public money. 

Here's something to ask Arne Duncan and your local and state officials next time you see them:  Why are you letting the American government give our tax dollars to a foreign, cult-like religious movement so they can operate 120 charter schools???

And here's a question for the U.S. press: Can we please get some decent news coverage about this??? The BBC gives it to the Brits, and I'm sure Great Britain has a much smaller number of Gulen schools.

Does everyone understand that the Gulen movement has been infiltrating the U.S. for the past 12 or so years? This is being done via a large network of charter schools AS WELL AS a whole host of Turkish cultural and "interfaith dialogue"organizations (and HERE) which are constantly schmoozing with targeted individuals of influence, and regularly pay favor-currying, gift-bearing (usually award plaques or Turkish ceramics) visits to the offices of public officials and politicians, AND ALSO give free (or greatly-reduced-price) Gulenist-guided trips to Turkey to influential, willing Americans as well as to the students at their charter schools.
“Austin ISD has a new relationship with Raindrop Turkish House (RTH), which will assist district staff in creating a curriculum on Turkey.”
Fancy that.

The number of these trips given to Americans by now must number in the many tens of thousands. This is just a tiny, tiny peek into what's going on, believe me.

In return for their free trip, one way travelers often repay their hosts is by writing dutiful testimonials which are always posted online. This is just the "evidence" needed to develop legitimacy and build up political and social cover for the Gulenists. Here are a few examples.
For a look at some of the office visits and gift-giving to politicians, go to http://www.charterschoolwatchdog.com/look-what-a-plate-will-buy.html

Recall what the BBC report said at 2:07 min.?

But in 1999 a video surfaced in which Mr. Gulen appeared to be urging his followers to, and I quote, “Move within the arteries of the system without anyone noticing your existence until you reach the centers of power.” He was charged with trying to undermine the state and left for America. He was later cleared in absentia, but he’s never been back to Turkey and still lives in Pennsylvania today.
Given the clear evidence of the Gulen Movement's activities in the U.S., with all their denials and evasions (and HERE and HERE), and the fact that so few Americans know anything about what's going on, I'd put my money on the claims that Gulen DID INSTRUCT his followers as was reported, and that they proceeded to do exactly what he had instructed them to do. "Keeping Secrets" anyone?

Just about the time Gulen made his famous "move within the arteries" statement, the first Gulen charter school was opened (1999). 

Today there are 120 Gulen charter schools in operation in 27 states, with at least 22 currently being attempted, and 47 attempts that never materialized.

Hawaii might have wised up to the shenanigans. Read how they did it at “Gulen Cult strikes out in Hawaii Legislature, School?”

Maybe some bigger news is about to break. More and more, concerns about the number of imported Turkish teachers these charter schools are bringing in on H-1B visas have been cropping up in the news.
60 Minutes and Frontline producers, where are you???

    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