Wednesday, August 28, 2013

"Expose the Gulen Movement" Protest and Conference

Two upcoming related events, a protest and a conference, will provide Americans with an opportunity to learn more about the Gulen Movement. The protest is an excellent opportunity for those in the NYC, NJ, and PA area to speak out against Gulen charter school expansion.

These protests are forming a bridge across the Atlantic that can help Americans understand more about the dark side of the secretive and controversial Turkish religious group that runs the largest charter school network here!

Date: Saturday, August 31
PLACE: Logging Road 45006, Saylorsburg, PA

Date: Sunday, September 1
Place: Radisson Hotel Piscataway-Somerset,  21 Kingsbridge Road, Piscataway, NJ

Interpreters will be present.


This is a follow-up to a protest was held in July 2103: “Protests Planned Against Nation’s Largest Charter Operator.”  Continue reading this post to learn about the scale of Gulen charter school expansion.

A small group in Los Angeles will also be protesting on Saturday, August 31, from 3:00 to 5:00 PM, at 395 Santa Monica Place, Santa Monica, CA.


On Sunday, September 1st, an "Expose the Gulen Movement" conference will take place in Piscataway, New Jersey (40 miles from New York City). I will be speaking about the Gulen charter schools, but the primary focus of the conference will be to disseminate information about the concerning situation in Turkey and explain the role of Fethullah Gulen and his followers. The main speakers will be a retired Turkish admiral and two formerly imprisoned Turkish journalists. Turkey leads the world with jailing journalists.

The political history and dynamics in Turkey are complex. Fethullah Gulen is an extremely powerful presence despite the fact that he lives in the US. For a taste of his involvement with the control of Turkey, read this recent article about the current situation published by Der Spiegel, a large and well-respected German news magazine: “Dangerous Friends: Power Struggle Splits Turkish Ruling Party.” 

Der Spiegel has published other reports about the Gulen movement. Turkish issues are quite important in Germany where the immigration of workers from Turkey has resulted in a significant minority population (4% in 2010). To compare, Asian Americans were 4.8% of the US population in 2010. 

Both of these "Expose the Gulen Movement" events have been organized by Turkish-Americans who are passionate about sharing their knowledge with the American public. 

This is the organizing page for the Pennsylvania protest: 
This is the organizing page for the California protest:

The events are part of a series of related actions across the country. After the first protest in Saylorsburg on July 13th, smaller protests were held in New York City, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC (check out what the banner says at the 2:00 min. mark). 

Banner displayed at a protest in Washington, DC, on August 4, 2013


In March 2012 when I added up 2010-2011 enrollment figures for this network of schools in preparation for my Washington Post guest piece, the total was 44,727 students. I recently tabulated the figures for 2012-2013 and discovered that the enrollment had climbed to 59,953 students, an increase of 15,000 students (30%) in just two years! This page by CASILIPS portrays the state-by-state Gulen charter school expansion since 1999. Be sure to watch the short video.

The rapid expansion in enrollment has occurred for two reasons. The first is that existing Gulen charter schools are continually adding the grade levels granted by their charter agreements. The second reason is that new Gulen charter schools are still being approved – mostly without any meaningful public discussion about their ties to a secretive and controversial Turkish religious group. This is not surprising considering the scant amount of decent press coverage devoted to the Gulen movement's US activities in general.

The bottom line is that – as each year goes by – this group annually gets more and more and more of the public’s money, in the range of hundreds of millions of dollars, all with little oversight (see here, here, here, here, etc.). 

As the American Foreign Policy Council's report (“Fethullah Gulen Movement”) concludes : “The charter school experiment has resulted in the United States being the only country in the world where the Gulen Movement has been able to establish schools fully funded by the host country’s taxpayers.”

The big question is why is this happening with so little public awareness and discussion? Fortunately, this weekend’s events will help to change that unfortunate situation.

No comments: