Sunday, February 27, 2011
Fethullah Gulen’s Missionary Charter Schools Coming under Increasing Scrutiny in the United States and around the World
Kurdishaspect.com - By Dr. Aland Mizell
Gulenists’ missionary schools are active from Afghanistan to the Sudan, from
Cambodia to France, and, in the US, from Texas to Alaska. Some people have
already started questioning the movement’s motives, distorted truth, secretive
global agenda, as well as lack of accountability and transparency, so that the
movement itself is coming under increasing scrutiny. In the US many parents have become suspicious of a lack of transparency, false information about the mission of the schools, and adjusted reports on financial resources. In the global
arena, governments as well as many scholars and journalists suspect that the
schools have more that just education on their agenda, especially in Uzbekistan.
Some Central Asian countries’ education authorities have ordered Gulen’s
missionary schools to scrap the history of religion from their curriculum. Many
of his schools that operated under the Slim Corporation in Uzbekistan have been
closed due to their hidden agenda and falsified records because the Uzbek
government is highly suspicious of fundamentalism there. Another country that
has been concerned is Tajikistan; the government is worried that the schools
spread a brand of Pan Turkism in the vein of the Ottoman Empire. They fear that
Gülen’s missionary schools are promoting the Ottomanist influence in their
country. However, so far only the Uzbek government has taken a firm stance
against Gulen’s movement.
With clarity some authorities see behind the façade. The Uzbek government in
Tashkent has expressed its suspicion that Turkish school graduates have been
embedded in government offices and other crucial institutions and from there use
their positions to weaken the secular government as they did in Turkey. Under
President Islam Karimov, the Uzbek government has arrested some of the graduates from Gulenists’ schools putting them in jails. When the government closed most of the schools in 1994-95, Gulenists were highly nervous because they were afraid this could be replicated in other Central Asian countries. Central Asia was integral to success for the Gülen movement to have economic and social power. When his followers immigrated to Central Asian countries, they considered themselves like the companions of Muhammad (sahabe, followers of Muhammad) going on their Hijrat (migration of Muhammad from Mecca to Yasrib). Such packaging works. By the skillful and sustained use of propaganda, a leader can make people see even heaven as hell or an extremely wretched life as heaven. As masters of this strategy, Gulenists use the false propaganda that their teachers and schools are the best in the world; however, in reality they are not. Most of the teachers (many of whom did not have teaching certificates), principals, and dorm directors were not qualified, because they were kicked out of the Turkish military since it feared they would try to replace the secular system, or they graduated from theology schools but were unable to find jobs in the secular government in Turkey. Gulenists made the castaways move to Central Asian countries. Because of a lack of accountability since they were newly independent countries from the Soviet Union, these stan-countries did not have any way to check the schools to see if they were legitimate. If they could have assessed them properly, they would have found that most of the teachers, principals, and belletmen (dorm counselors) were subject to deportation back to Turkey, but Central Asian countries, except for the Uzbek government, did not vet them properly. However, a few of these countries became alarmed because Fethullah Gülen opened so many schools and universities, business companies, and language centers that the officials saw this as a massive invasion from Turkey. They are afraid now that Turks have been colonizing them since the Soviets left power and continue to do so today. The success of the program, however, resulted from the organization’s selection of intelligent student, not because they were unrivaled in educational excellence. In addition, they knew that if they were successful in Turkey, they could use the model for a platform globally.
This past year further allegations against the schools raise questions about
their students’ performance. In Turkey a Central National Examination, the KPSS,
is required for teacher appointments to public schools; more than 300 people got
a perfect score on 120 questions on the education science section, signaling a
problem with the security of the exam. The case went to court because many
people claimed Gulenists stole the answer key, a charge still under
investigation. Some wanted to close their schools, but the machinery somehow
managed to keep them going. However, last month Gulenists were given notice that they could not be successful in Uzbekistan when the Uzbek government finally decided to close the remaining school, the Tashkent Ulugbek International
School, which has been operating since 1995 under the Slim Corporation. Despite their concerted efforts to portray the Gulenist schools as superlative, some authorities are learning the truth. The Gülen movement, however, solicits famous people to speak on its behalf in advance of charges.
High Profile Personalities as Advocates
Using famous personalities to his advantage even then, in the early 1990s Gülen
was crafty in secretly sending the former Turkish president Turgut Özal to
Central Asia to befriend the head of states to ensure they would not fear the
schools and to claim that these schools were bridges between Turkey and Central Asian countries, indeed sharing a brotherhood. Of course, even President Turgut Özal was secretly affiliated with Gülen. He would not directly communicate with him, but rather had a middleman to deliver messages to his religious leader,
because Gülen knew he had been under surveillance by the Turkish secular
government and the military at that time. Another significant contribution that
President Özal made to legitimize and advance the movement came from his visit to Gülen missionary schools in Central Asia. If the president of Turkey visited
the schools, it meant that the presidents of the countries would visit the
schools as well, presenting themselves in support as a helping brother rather
than decrying the schools as a threat. Great liars are generally great
magicians as well, so movement activists, then as now, use others with high
profiles to propagate their work. As long as individuals do not take a stand
against Gülen or his cadre, criticize them, or object to their methods, these
personalities enhance the image of the movement and particularly of the schools.
The most dangerous untruth is distorted truth. Now they are using the same
tactic of enlisting glittering personalities in the West and in the US. They
lure academics, politicians, and some religious leaders who have nothing to
declare except their genuine ignorance to declare that Gülen schools are
first-class or that they are tolerant and respectful of others’ views. The
organization gives conferences, inviting only the supporters and never the
detractors or those who criticize the movement. A quick perusal of any
conference proceedings will demonstrate that opponents are glaringly omitted
from the meetings. Why? The goal of Gulenists’ propaganda is no longer to
transform public opinion but to arouse an active and secret global agenda.
Unfortunately, they lure advocates who unwittingly or ignorantly advance this
The greatest ignorance is to reject something when you know nothing about it.
There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action. Amazingly, some self-
proclaimed scholars in the US, as well as politicians and businessmen, think the
Gülen movement is committed to promote tolerance and peace and do not accept that it has a goal to raise up another Ottoman Empire of Islamic States. The reason that many Americans have not heard about the Gülen movement is because the members move clandestinely. Their tactic is to open schools, build Turkish cultural houses, initiate interfaith dialogues, finance trips to Turkey, and
bring graduate students as well as businesses to the US, with only one purpose--
to promote Gulen’s view of Islam which is to bring back a global Ottomanist
Islamic State. To be able to do that requires social, political, economical, and
military power, which is precisely what Gulenists are aiming for.
The Tenets of Gulenists
Three principles are very important for Gulenists; (1) keeping a secret (in
Turkish sir tutmak), (2) practicing prudence (tedbirli olmak), and (3) calling
upon the conspiracy theory (komplo). Every follower of Gülen must know these
three principles to succeed as a devotee. But, of course, Gulenists believe that
they are the chosen ones and that God is on their side, accounting further, in
their view, for their success. First, the leaders teach how to keep secrets and
not to tell the truth “anywhere or everywhere.” Although also advocating
truth-telling, Islam justifies lying in certain contexts: to settle arguments,
to safeguard a life of either one’s self or another Muslim, to defend one’s
honor, to succeed in combat or jihad, or to spread Islam. To this later end,
Gülen says that his followers “have to know the truth, but do not have to tell
the truth anywhere or everywhere.” Thus, lying and deception ("taqiyya") are
permissible and sometimes obligatory. Gülen teaches that “guarding a secret is
the same as guarding one’s chastity. Those who keep a secret, whether their
personal one or a friend’s, keep themselves chaste. Conversely, those who spread secrets damage their honor and reputation by leaving themselves unguarded. If a follower wants to tell someone a secret, he should be sure that he can trust the recipient with his honor. That person must be as meticulous about keeping the secret as about retaining his or her honor. An unreliable person, one who is ignorant of the value of chastity, should not be entrusted with keeping the
secret.” How much do Gulenists tell politicians in the US or tell those who
have written articles or books praising his movement? Gülen continues
propagating these underlying propositions about the importance of keeping secret the details of his many important affairs because they can be protected only if they are undisclosed. Having studied secrecy, he knows the advantages. Often when the involved parties do not keep certain matters secret, no progress is achieved. In addition serious risk might confront those who are involved,
particularly if the matter concerns delicate issues of the entity’s life and its
continuation. If a state cannot protect is secrets from its enemies, it cannot
develop. If any army reveals its strategy to its antagonist, it cannot attain
victory. If key workers are won over by the competitors, their employers cannot
succeed. The secret is the bearer’s slave, but the bearer becomes its slave if
he discloses it. The necessity of secrecy is a tenet of the Gülen movement.
Gülen explains to his followers that they must never give away all of their
secrets. Those who freely publicized the secret of their hearts drag themselves
and their nation, or their organization, toward an inevitable downfall.
Secondly, prudence and safety measures are important resources for reaching the goal, according to the Gülen tenets. It is a serious error to be careless
because eventually recklessness might cause the individual to fail or to be
accused of indiscretions by others. Clever people envisage all possible
drawbacks and problems before determining a solution or a way to deal with them when they arise. As a traditional maxim expresses it, “It is better to catch a
burglar before he or she breaks in to your house.” Gülen reasons that, like
many other bad habits, trying to manipulate the masses with deceitful
crowd-control techniques is a gift to us from abroad. “We reject such practices
because they remind us of a hen announcing loudly that it has laid an egg.
Instead we prefer the slow peaceful road even it if means a longer travail
affected by more sorrow“ (Gülen, Pearl Wisdom). Gülen also believes that
premature acts could cost them dearly. Instead he teaches his devotees that if
they act prematurely without total power --social, political and military
might., the enemy could crush them down, and they will look like Pakistan,
Algeria, and other Muslim countries. That is why Gulen’s second most important
principle is “tedbir” or prudence, in other words, being cautious.
Part of their prudence is dictated in outward appearance. They dress
fashionably, go to the parties, look secular, listen to secular music, and even
do not pray all the five daily prayers but only the farz. Retaining the farz is
important so as not to alienate their base, so that they can be accepted by the
community and slowly they can get power outside of it. They move wisely, slowly,
and cautiously, believing that they who run fast stumble. Avoiding conflict
guards against controversy, so that the organization never lets anyone speak
against it, but instead, uses the conspiracy theory to discredit the critic.
Thus, the third tactic is not letting people speak against the movement and
threatening to sue them if they do. A little homework will reveal that, for
example, in Turkey, the consequences for those who speak against Gulen and his movement often is a jail sentence. This charge, using the worn technique of
defaming the critic, has been constantly trotted out in Turkey. There, if a
brave individual denounces them, they label it slander and put him or her in
prison, but they cannot do that in the West. Even in the US, however, they
threaten to sue those who expose them. Now in the US a rising wave of criticism
of the charter schools receives the same treatment: threat of law suits,
expulsion of students or teachers, or labels of conspirators. If one group
charges the organization with tax evasion, the leaders cry conspiracy. If
another faction is alarmed at the presence of Turkish Islamic curricula and the
omission of historical content such as the holocaust, the charter school leaders
shout conspiracy. If yet another contingent marches for union options, they
hire the best union-busting attorney to break up “the plot.”
“The man who fights dragons too long, then becomes a dragon himself,” Nietzsche claims. It is always good to fight for injustice, intolerance, hate, and
prejudice, but if the fighter does not apply the counterparts of those principles behind closed door but rather applies a hidden agenda until he accomplishes his goals, then he has become unjust, intolerant, and evil himself. It is often the case that the Gulenists use the same methods against their enemies that the enemies used to fight them. When an opponent stretches the truth, they will snap back. A lie may take care of the present, but it has no future. People no longer believe their games and that is the source of their trouble today. The Salt Lake Tribune published an article that first exposed Gulen’s missionary charter schools and said, however, that principals of the charter schools denied any connection with Gülen, and that later parents of students in the schools became suspicious of their motives and lack of accountability, which led them to investigate the schools. However, when I started writing about Gulen’s secret agenda and his activities in the US and around the world a couple of years ago, not one site or commenter knew of Gülen, especially in the US. One time I asked Robert Gates, since he was a former CIA agent, what he thought about Gulen’s movement and Gülen. He replied that it seems they look like saints. Observers all see the mask but not the spirit behind them. Now when a searcher types “charter schools and Gülen,” he will see a grass root movement asking to close the schools and not to renew the licenses because of their lack of professionalism and accountability, and their enigmatic agenda. Gülen knows that the danger of truth is coming to the schools and that is why he used some members of the Texas Senate to pass a resolution honoring him. However, no voice of opposition was heard from the other Senators in Austin. The Gulenists know that Americans are now pursuing the truth about them and are demanding transparency and disclosure of their hidden agenda. Now, they can think that it is not a danger to be affiliated with him, pointing to the
honor he received from the Texas legislature. Their goal is not to be honored
just in the State of Texas but in all the states of the US; soon other states
will follow. Because many Turks somehow believe that there are numerous enemies with power in the world and in their own society who play tricks in order to
weaken the organization (or the nation), they discredit the truth and move away
from it. Since the idea of conspiracies is embedded in the Turkish culture,
Gulenists very often charge the detractors of being in collusion whenever
something comes against them. However, to be successful in the West, they will
use the label of “Islamophobia” as a subset of their conspiracy theory. Anyone
who sounds the clarion call is labeled “an Islamophobe.” Fear of being branded
that silences truth-tellers as they fall into the movement’s trap. Yet, today
across the US many with courage and conviction are researching the missionary
charter schools and finding their raison d’être: arming the next generation with
a Turkish brand of Islam to rise up a new global Ottoman state.
The following is a brief list of some of the sites that raise concerns about the
Gülen movement in the US.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Will the REAL Muhammed Fethullah Gulen - Islamic Iman please stand up. Although this article is from 2008. It discusses the secrecy and smoking mirrors of the Gulen Movement who don't even have an official list of their
cult followers. One thing that is consistent is their operations worldwide, from Southeast Asia to the USA it is the same PLAN. Manipulate and control the local Academia, Politics, and Media. They sell their fake story of Interfaith Dialog which happens to be no more than free dinners with a presentation from a Hizmet member and a local polticians, religious leader or academia. There is NO dialogue or discussions about Interfaith it is spoon fed to you. It amounts to no more than a selling piece for Gulen and Turkey and that Turkey is the land of love, peace and harmony so therefore you should listen to Gulen and praise his schools.
The real Fethullah Gülen
Fethullah Gülen and his beliefs represent nothing new in Islamic thought. Instead, as the hijacking of the Prospect poll shows, Gülenism is essentially a cult
Fethullah Gülen, the Turkish Muslim ideologue who claims to find inspiration in Islamic mysticism (Sufism), has had a busy summer. Following the hijacking by his many admirers of the Prospect/Foreign Policy global public intellectuals poll, on 24th June he was acquitted by the Turkish judiciary of charges of fundamentalism and terrorism. Then, some Turkish media reported that Gülen has been denied a “green card” for permanent immigrant status in the US and faces deportation.
Rumours had circulated for some months that Gülen, who resided for several years, while ill, in Pennsylvania, had already returned to Turkey following the election of the AK (Justice and Development) party, with which he is loosely connected. But the reports about Gülen’s immigration case were false. No such decision has been made in the US, and no resolution of his status is expected in the short term. The lesson of this latest item, for opponents of Gülen, is that wherever he goes, media manipulation and disinformation follow.
Arguments for Fethullah Gülen are typically made with the belief that westerners can be fooled into thinking that Gülen and his alleged Sufism represent some profound breakthroughs in Islamic thought, when in fact they do not. Still, the effort often succeeds. Gülen was described by Tom Nuttall in his analysis of the poll results as “a new kind of intellectual— one whose influence is expressed through a personal network, aided by the internet, rather than publications or institutions.” But the same could have been said, before the arrival of the internet, of the “new kind of religion” called Scientology, invented by L Ron Hubbard.
The Gülen movement has also been praised for establishing a business-oriented daily, Zaman (Today) with a large circulation and numerous international editions. But the non-Turkish incarnations of Zaman have included publications issued in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, benighted ex-Soviet dictatorships, the contents of which are identical in spirit with those of newsless sheets issued by the local rulers—crazies in Turkmenistan and bloodthirsty neo-Stalinists in Uzbekistan.
Gülen followers like to present him as a pioneer in interfaith dialogue, even a kind of Islamic pope or Dalai Lama. But Muslim interfaith encounters with Jews and Christians are rather old news. The commandment of respectful relations between Muslims and non-Muslims appears in the Koran, which honors the People of the Book, originally Jews, Christians, and a mysterious faith known as the Sabaeans, but later extended by Sunni Muslims to include Zoroastrians and Hindus.
There is also nothing new in Gülenist attempts to resolve conflicts between faith and reason. These issues have been discussed in Islam for a millennium, with much greater eloquence, and are basic to Islamic theology. Likewise, there is nothing new in the Gülenist enthusiasm for technology. Radical Islamists like the Egyptian Sayyid Qutb called on the Muslims to embrace western scientific advances, and al Qaeda websites are far more ingenious and probably more successful than their anti-radical and official counterparts.
Further, there is nothing new in the designation of Gülenist belief as “Islam lite.” If this rather offensive term has any meaning, it would presumably refer to moderate Islam, which has existed as a stream within the religion since the Koran (2:143) defined Muslims as a “community of moderation.” Moderate Islam was spelled out in the 4th Islamic century by theologian Imam al-Tahawi, as follows: “Islam lies between excess and falling short, between comparing God with other aspects of creation and denying God’s attributes, between fatalism and defiance of God’s will, between certainty and despair.” Muslims did not have to wait for the coming of the secularists or Islamists like Fethullah Gülen to find such a doctrine of faith.
There was something new and disturbing, and perhaps unintentionally revealing, in the Gülenist apologia offered by Ehsan Masood (Prospect, July 2008). The author referred to the followers of Gülen as “converts.” The use of this word is bizarre. Presumably, Gülenists are already Muslims. They should not need to convert to Islam again. (This practice is, however, considered necessary by the ultra-fundamentalist Wahhabi sect based in Saudi Arabia. Sunnis who become Shia Muslims are also said to undergo a “conversion.”) But perhaps Gülen has created not only a cult, as many observers including myself believe, or even a new Muslim sect, but imagines he can found a new religion based on worship of himself.
The Gülen movement’s manipulation of the Prospect/Foreign Policy poll speaks for itself. Respected Muslim intellectuals will view this affair with contempt.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
An article exposing a federal investigation into the Gulen Movement's involvement in charter schools (>30,000 students) has just been published in Il Sole 24 Ore (considered to be The Wall Street Journal of Italian newspapers): Un imam alla conquista degli Usa.
Yet still, the U.S. public remains uninformed about this whole situation because the American press has revealed very little to them.
Here is the translation.
An imam in the conquest of the United States -
by Claudio Gatti - Il Sole 24 Ore (Italy)
by Claudio Gatti - Il Sole 24 Ore (Italy)
February 20, 2011
------NEW YORK - A Muslim religious movement wants to conquer America. In fact, in a sense it has already conquered and no one has yet noticed. Nothing to do with al-Qaeda, terrorism or Islamic fundamentalism. We speak of a sect that is rather mysterious - so much so that it has been called the Muslim Opus Dei - founded in Turkey in the 1970s by an imam named Fethullah Gülen. And noted rather for its moderation.
After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Gulen’s followers opened dozens of schools in Central Asia. From there, the network of “Gulenist” schools has spread across all of Asia and in many African countries with the aim of forming a new ruling class tied to Turkey and the Gulen movement. Eleven years ago, to escape the military, Gulen relocated from Turkey to a spiritual center in Pennsylvania that is two hours from New York. Since then, his movement, known among followers simply as "the Service" - Hizmet in Turkish – have opened a flurry of schools in the U.S.. The difference is that it is being done at the expense of American taxpayers.
Il Sole 24 Ore has been able to determine that for months, the FBI, Department of Justice and Department of Education have been investigating the possible illegal use of these education funds, a criminal conspiracy, extortion, and violation of immigration laws. "The suspicion is that, behind an educational effort, there is a giant conspiracy" a federal officer, requesting anonymity, explained to our newspaper. "The plan is as simple as it is brilliant: to use public funding for schools to educate a new generation of Americans favorably inclined to Turkey and thus indirectly to the Gulen movement, and also to spend some of that money to fund foundations and cultural centers."
Federal authorities have identified at least 120 schools opened in recent years by the movement in some twenty U.S. states, all charter schools, which are outside the loop of public education but financed by states and the federal government. Since each of these schools receives from 1.5 to 3 million dollars each year in public funds, it is a matter of hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
Those funds also serve to give employment to thousands of followers of the movement brought in specially from Turkey to teach scientific subjects. An analysis of work permits for teachers reveals that between just 2007 and 2009, the "Gulen" schools requested and were granted 1,851 visas in three years, more than some major American corporations such as Motorola and Google.
Part of the public funds also ends up in the coffers of companies founded by Gulen to provide services to schools. Il Sole 24 Ore has identified two such companies, Concept Schools and Breeze Inc., which in various documents appear to have contracted for over 100 thousand dollars a month with each of six schools in Ohio suspected of being affiliated to Hizmet.
Gulen declined to answer our questions, but when Il Sole 24 Ore asked Beksir [sic- should read Bekir] Aksoy, chairman of the spiritual center of Pennsylvania where the onetime imam lives, if the founder has any relationship with these schools, the response was an emphatic no. And the school administrators themselves have always denied any formal relationship with the movement.
But federal authorities have documents and emails that prove the link. Not only that, they show that the Hizmet would split the U.S. territory into five regions, assigning each of these to a single responsible individual, and that each teacher "imported" from Turkey would be required to return a percentage of their salary to the movement.
The region including Ohio was to be entrusted to a Turkish imam named Veli Aslan, better known as "brother Veli.” An email sent in June 2008 with regard to teachers who were late in making the paybacks reads: "Brother Veli wants to have all the “salary returns." And he says to withhold future salaries from those who have not made them."
More incriminating still is an email dated June 13, 2007 and sent to the principal of a school in Ohio and copied to the CEO of Concept Schools, a board member of Breeze, and the Executive Director of the Niagara Foundation, a foundation personally headed by Fethullah Gulen. The email recommends "increasing the number of teachers from Turkey ... to acquire more money."
Federal investigators believe that proves the involvement of all the various branches of Hizmet - schools, service organizations, and the most important Gulenist foundation in the U.S. - in what they call "the Tuzuk conspiracy", namely the illegal financing of the movement at the expense of taxpayers.
From Izmir to Washington
Fethullah Gulen, born in 1941 in Erzurum, Turkey, was in his youth a disciple of the Muslim leader Said Nursi. In 1966 he moved to Izmir, where the audience of faithful who attended his sermons began to widen. In the 70s he founded the Gulen Movement, which takes its name, known to his followers as Hizmet, "the service:" an organization in no time very active in establishing schools, first in Asia and Africa, and today in the United States, with the goal of creating a ruling class tied to Turkey and the movement.