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Title: Picket Of Oakland Gulen School-Stop The Theft Of Our Public Schools And Privatization-Nati
START DATE: Saturday July 13
TIME: 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Location Details:
Bay Area Technology School
8251 Fontaine St. Oakland
Event Type: Press Conference
7/13 Picket Of Oakland Gulen School-Stop The Theft Of Our Public Schools And Privatization-National Action Against Fethullah Gulen Movement
Stop The Gulen Movement
Protest and Press Conference
Saturday July 13, 2013 11:00 AM
Picket of
Bay Area Technology School In Oakland
8251 Fontaine St. Oakland

In Conjunction with picket of Fethullah Gulen's Compound In Pennsylvania

Called By United Public Workers For Action http://www.upwa.info

National Protests Against Gulen Movement in US Schools

The Facebook page for the event (with mostly Turkish text) is
http://www.facebook.com/events/146697112191008/

Five hundred people are expected to picket Fetullah Gulen's estate in Pennsylvania.

Mary Addi, the outspoken former Gulen charter school teacher who was interviewed in the 60 Minutes segment is planning to attend, as is former FBI translator and whistleblower Sibel Edmonds who has written a lot about Gulen's shenanigans will also be attending the picket.


US CIA Supported Turkish Pro-Islamist Iman Fethullah Gulen's Newspaper Aman Now Critical Of Erdogan Tactics
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/13/world/europe/taksim-square-protests-istanbul-turkey.html?hpw
June 12, 2013
Turkish Police and Protesters Clash in Istanbul’s Taksim Square
By TIM ARANGO, SEBNEM ARSU and CEYLAN YEGINSU
ISTANBUL — Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan ordered his interior minister on Wednesday to end all antigovernment protests within 24 hours, as thousands of protesters returned to Taksim Square after riot police officers dispersed crowds overnight with tear gas and water cannons.

At a meeting in Ankara with representatives of the Confederation of Turkish Tradesmen and Craftsmen, a labor union, Mr. Erdogan dismissed international criticism of his handling of the protests and claimed that Turkish intelligence knew three months ago about local and foreign efforts to inflict chaos in Turkey, according to a union official who attended the meeting and who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

“There are people who claim this is the Turkish Spring, but what they do not see is that Turkey has been living through its spring since 2002,” said Mr. Erdogan, referring to the year his Justice and Development Party won a majority of seats in Parliament.

“By tomorrow at the latest, the Gezi Park incident will end,” he continued. “This is a public park, not an area of occupation.”

For nearly two weeks, the prime minister has remained largely defiant, demanding that protesters leave the square, placing armed police officers on standby to sweep the area and insisting that the demonstrations were nothing like the Arab Spring protests, which ousted entrenched leaders across the Middle East and northern Africa. But as homemade firebombs and tear gas wafted through the city center, it seemed that Mr. Erdogan and his supporters had miscalculated the opposition’s tenacity and conviction.

“Thugs! Thugs!” a protester shouted at the police as she was shrouded in a cloud of tear gas. “Let God bring the end of you!”

The demonstrations began over a plan to tear out the last significant green space in the center of the city, Gezi Park in Taksim Square, and to replace it with a mall designed like an Ottoman-era barracks. Mr. Erdogan, who once advised the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, to negotiate and compromise, sent the police to clear the park.

The tactic backfired, leading to large protests and expressions of frustration at Mr. Erdogan’s rising authoritarian streak. Environmentalists and conservationists were joined in the protest by radical leftists and street hooligans. Mr. Erdogan pulled the police back, but for days Taksim has been a sprawling hub of grievance against him and his party.

On Monday, he offered to talk on Wednesday — but then he sent the police back to clear out the protesters. By Wednesday morning, the operation had succeeded, but anger over Mr. Erdogan’s handling of the protests had not abated.

In Taksim Square, the police cleared out most of the barricades set up by protesters on streets that surround the park, while anti-riot police and their armored vehicles stood guard around the old opera house, which was stripped of political banners and posters that had been decorating its facade for more than 10 days.

A smaller group of police officers circled the Republic monument in the heart of the square, preventing groups from putting their banners on a statue of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey.

The medical aid tent inside the park had to be moved after the police fired tear gas in and around it, injuring the medical workers and protesters.

On Wednesday, the Bianet news site reported that Ethem Sarisuluk, a protester who was reported to have been struck on the head by a plastic bullet on June 1, was brain dead. Two other protesters and a police officer have been killed, while at least 4,947 have been injured in the violence.

Thousands of black-robed lawyers left courthouses around the country on Wednesday to protest the behavior of the police, television images showed.

After the meeting with the labor union, Mr. Erdogan met separately with a group of 11 people, including academics, artists and students, in Ankara. Taksim Solidarity, an umbrella group of protest organizers that had been excluded, said the meeting with the smaller group was an effort to mislead Turkish public opinion and would not produce anything while police violence continued.

The smoldering violence represents Mr. Erdogan’s worst political crisis since coming to power a decade ago. It also highlights the kind of class politics that have divided society, with his conservative religious followers strongly supporting his position. But his political base — a majority — has not protected the economy, which is suffering as the currency loses value and the cost of borrowing rises.

Analysts now worry that Mr. Erdogan, instead of finding a way out of the crisis, has only made it worse by hardening divisions among his constituents, and by digging in.

“The leaders may be searching for a way out of the deadlock,” Melih Asik, a columnist, wrote in Milliyet, a centrist newspaper. “However, has inciting one half of the people against the other half ever been a remedy for overcoming such a crisis? If limitless anger does not give way to common sense, Turkey will have a very difficult job ahead.”

Mr. Erdogan, in rally after rally over the weekend, sought to energize the conservative masses who propelled him to power by invoking his personal history as an Islamist leader opposed to the old secular state and its undemocratic nature. His supporters represent a social class that was previously marginalized, and Mr. Erdogan has used his speeches to play on those class resentments.

“The potatohead bloke, itching his belly — this was how they regarded us for decades,” he said in a speech on Tuesday. “They think we do not know anything about politics, arts, theater, cinema, poetry, paintings, aesthetics, architecture.”

Though he was democratically elected, unlike the Arab leaders he has counseled, commentators say he appears to have appropriated several tactics of those ousted by popular uprisings. In addition to sending in the police, he has blamed foreigners for stoking the unrest — a refrain also heard in Cairo and Damascus, Syria.

“Those who attempt to sink the bourse, you will collapse,” Mr. Erdogan said at one of several speeches he gave on Sunday. “If we catch your speculation, we will choke you. No matter who you are, we will choke you.”

But there is a danger, analysts say, because even with a strong majority as his base, he is vulnerable if the crisis drags on. Several columnists for Zaman, a pro-Islamist newspaper linked to Fethullah Gulen, an important spiritual leader in Turkey who is exiled in the United States, have become critical of Mr. Erdogan’s intimidation of the news media and his pursuit of a powerful presidential system.

The White House called Tuesday for dialogue to resolve differences between the government, a close ally of the United States, and the protesters.

“We continue to follow events in Turkey with concern, and our interest remains supporting freedom of expression and assembly, including the right to peaceful protest,” a White House spokeswoman said in a statement.

Speaking in Paris on Wednesday, Egemen Bagis, Turkey’s chief negotiator with the European Union, said protesters in Taksim Square had a democratic right to protest. But he said that terrorists had infiltrated the square and that Turkey had a right to defend itself from violence and provocation.

“Those who resort to violence will be dealt with like they are in all democratic societies,” he said, arguing that the situation was analogous to allowing Al Qaeda to put banners or posters at the Statue of Liberty or Times Square.

Asked how it was that Mr. Erdogan had supported democracy movements in Egypt and Syria, yet appeared to be resorting to the kind of language used by some dictators, Mr. Bagis said such analogies were baseless.

“After the first night of demonstrations, people in Western media said the Turkish Spring had started,” he said. “I highly condemn that approach. Comparing what is happening in Turkey to Arab Spring is out of sight, out of logic. Turkey is a democracy. There is a campaign to tarnish a democratically elected government.”

Mr. Bagis blamed unspecified outside interests for seeking to undermine and destabilize Turkey and said that in due course, Mr. Erdogan would make public the names of those responsible. Attempts to label Mr. Erdogan as authoritarian are slanderous and unacceptable, he said.

He warned that those who tried to impede Turkey’s progress would not succeed. “I have bad news for them. They will not be able to stop us.”

When the day began it appeared that the government had a cautious strategy aimed at reining in the protests by clearing the square, but leaving the demonstrators in the park. A Twitter message from the provincial governor, Huseyin Avni Mutlu, said, “This morning you are in the safe hands of your police brothers.”

But there was so much distrust in the park that demonstrators began girding for an attack. Some scribbled their blood types on their arms in ink, in case they needed emergency care.

On Tuesday night, the police began firing tear gas in the park, where many demonstrators were as critical of the protest violence as of the police. “It started with throwing stones, but now the extremists are sinking to the level of the police by throwing fireworks and firebombs,” said Ece Yavuz, 36. “We will not participate in this violence.”

Dan Bilefsky contributed reporting from Paris.

More Scrutiny for Gulen Schools in the US
June 6, 2012 - 2:42pm, by Yigal Schleifer



http://www.eurasianet.org/node/65507
With increased success comes increased scrutiny, Turkey's powerful Gulen movement is learning. Over the years, the movement -- founded by the charismatic Islamic theologian Fetullah Gulen, who currently resides in Pennsylvania -- has been able to build what is thought to be the largest public charter school program in the United States, with more than 120 schools across the country that receive hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer money. (The movement also runs a very successful schools program in Turkey.)

Lately, though, the Gulen schools in the US have been coming under increased media scrutiny, facing questions not so much about the quality of education they offer, but rather about violations of financial, legal and ethical standards. One of the first major pieces to take a hard look at how the Gulen charter schools operate came in March of last year in the Philadelphia Inquirer, which claimedthat federal authorities were investigating several of the movement's schools for violating immigration laws and for forcing employees to send part of their paycheck back to Turkey.

In an article from a year ago, the New York Times took a look at several Gulen-affiliated charter schools in Texas, also suggesting that the schools are using taxpayer money to benefit the movement (known as "Hizmet" in Turkish) and businesses and vendors affiliated with it. Perhaps as a sign that the Gulen has truly hit the big time, last month 60 Minutes ran a piece looking at the movement's US charter schools, also raising questions about funny business going on in some of them (such as bringing over teachers from Turkey to teach English).

Gulen school administrators (who frequently deny their schools have any connection to the movement) have defended their institutions by pointing out to to what they say is a track record of academic excellence. Other defenders say the criticism of the schools is fueled by a wider anti-Islam bias in the US.

But in some places, Gulen schools are now in the process of actually being closed down (or having their public charters revoked, which means they would have to become private schools.) In Philadelphia, a movement school was one of three to have their charters revoked in April "based on problems with academics and administration and failing to meet state requirements, such as having 75 percent certified teachers." And, as the New York Times reports today, a Gulen school in Georgia has also recently had its charter revoked because of questions regarding its finances. As the Times further reports, an audit by the Fulton County Schools, near Atlanta, found that the Fulton Science Academy Middle School and two other Gulen-affiliated schools "improperly granted hundreds of thousands of dollars in contracts to businesses and groups, many of them with ties to the Gulen movement."

The Gulen charter schools program has been able to achieve its spectacular growth by staying decidedly in the shadows and keeping any questions about the movement wrapped up in a gauzy haze of vagueness. From now on, though, it appears that will no longer be a viable strategy.

IMPERIAL PHILANTHROPY: USING EDUCATION REFORM TO BUY THE EARTH AND SKY

Teaching as CIA Cover–Gülen Charter Schools, Dan Burton, and State Secrets
By: Doug Martin Saturday May 5, 2012 5:07 pm
http://my.firedoglake.com/dougmartin/2012/05/05/teaching-as-cia-cover–gulen-charter-schools-dan-burton-and-state-secrets-2/

Tweet1
The following continues Doug Martin’s look into the Gülen charter school movement, which began withIslam and the Free Market of Privatized Education: “Friending” the Gülen Charter Schools. It first appeared at Common Errant.

Besides noting U.S. charter school connections to the Fethullah Gülen Movement during her testimony in the Schmidt v. Krikorian case in Ohio on August 8, 2009,* former FBI language specialist-turned whistleblower Sibel Edmonds—an Iranian raised in Turkey before becoming a U.S. citizen—alleges a 1990s U.S./ Gülen al-Qaeda operation in Central Asian and a bribery scheme involving Indiana’s own U.S. House member Dan Burton.

Edmonds testified in candidate David Krikorian’s defense case before the Ohio Election Commission when Rep. Jean Schmidt, an Ohio Republican, filed charges against him for claiming, during a 2008 campaign bid, that she accepted money illegally from people with Turkey interests.

Edmonds’ deposition held many bombshells, since she had been translating wiretap conversations between those associated with the Turkish lobby.

It seems Gülen and the U.S. State Department, from 1997 to 2001, had been training al-Qaeda in Central Asian, with the help of the Turkish military, Pakistani ISI, and Azerbaijan officials (96), Edmonds says in response to questions from Krikorian’s attorney, Dan Marino. In a subsequent interview with retired CIA-counter-terrorism specialist Phil Giraldi (who believes her story), Edmonds details Gülen /U.S training missions and Turkish drug-smuggling into Chicago and Paterson, New Jersey, two hot-beds of the Gülen Movement, each containing Fethullah’s followers’ charter schools:

GIRALDI: You also have information on al-Qaeda, specifically al-Qaeda in Central Asiaand Bosnia. You were privy to conversations that suggested the CIA was supporting al-Qaeda in central Asia and the Balkans, training people to get money, get weapons, and this contact continued until 9/11…

EDMONDS: I don’t know if it was CIA. There were certain forces in the U.S. government who worked with the Turkish paramilitary groups, including Abdullah Çatli’s group,Fethullah Gülen.

GIRALDI: Well, that could be either Joint Special Operations Command or CIA.

EDMONDS: Maybe in a lot of cases when they said State Department, they meant CIA?

GIRALDI: When they said State Department, they probably meant CIA.

EDMONDS: Okay. So these conversations, between 1997 and 2001, had to do with a Central Asia operation that involved bin Laden. Not once did anybody use the word “al-Qaeda.” It was always “mujahideen,” always “bin Laden” and, in fact, not “bin Laden” but “bin Ladens” plural. There were several bin Ladens who were going on private jets toAzerbaijan and Tajikistan. The Turkish ambassador in Azerbaijan worked with them.

There were bin Ladens, with the help of Pakistanis or Saudis, under our management. Marc Grossman [Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs at the time and former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey] was leading it, 100 percent, bringing people from East Turkestan into Kyrgyzstan, from Kyrgyzstan to Azerbaijan, from Azerbaijan some of them were being channeled to Chechnya, some of them were being channeled to Bosnia. From Turkey, they were putting all these bin Ladens on NATO planes. People and weapons went one way, drugs came back.

GIRALDI: Was the U.S. government aware of this circular deal?

EDMONDS: 100 percent. A lot of the drugs were going to Belgium on NATO planes. After that, they went to the UK, and a lot came to the U.S. via military planes to distribution centers in Chicago and Paterson, New Jersey. Turkish diplomats who would never be searched were coming with suitcases of heroin.

Edmonds, before this interview took place, had been fired from the FBI in 2002 for revealing to higher ups security breaches and Turkish espionage at the bureau’s language division. This Turkish-American conspiracy included, as well, paying off U.S. officials to leak secrets and allow nuclear weapons technology to be sold on the Pakistani, Iranian, and North Korean black markets. Besides Dan Burton, others she implements include Illinois Republican Dennis Hastert, Douglas Feith, Paul Wolfowitz, and Marc Grossman, Bush’s Deputy Undersecretary of State.

Edmonds has been gagged under a “state secrets privilege” order by the Bush Administration’s attorney general, John Ashcroft, from disclosing detailed information to the public, but her finger-pointing has been backed up or deemed credible by many, including the government’s own Department of Justice’s Inspector General and Senators Patrick Leahy and Chuck Grassley. In fact, former Turkish Intelligence Chief Osman Nuri Gundes, in a recent memoir, writes that Gülen, in his Central Asia charter schools in the mid-1990s, gave cover to over 130 CIA agents posing as teachers, an irony given that today Turkish men on H-1B visas pose as educators in the US charter schools run by Gülen followers.

Why was the CIA interested in Central Asia? Oil and gas, according to Edmonds.

It turns out, one of the Turkish groups being wiretapped was the American Turkish Council (ATC). When Edmonds told higher-ups that an ATC spy was working as a translator in the FBI and attempting to conceal ATC’s illegal activity, Edmonds was fired. The spy, Jan Dickerson, Edmonds told officials, had tried to buy her out. Dickerson’s husband was an Air Force official.

As part of the Turkish lobby, the ATC is a big-player in D.C. Its board is made up of and funded by U.S. weapons contractors and energy companies (including Imagine Schools’ Dennis Bakke’s former company AES Energy, Eli Lilly, and Lockheed Martin). It is believed that Valerie Plame Wilson’s outing, among other things, was a result of her investigation into the ATC. At the time of the conspiracy, Brent Scowcroft, a former national security adviser, was ATC’s chair. Lincoln McCurdy, who we will soon meet, was ATC’s CEO.

In an interview with Electric Politics, Edmonds also discusses the Association of Turkish Americans and its nationwide interfaith and business chapters, which have ties to the Gülen charter schools. Citizens Against Special Interest Lobbying in Public Schools (C.A.S.I.L.I.P.S) has traced Gülen-affiliated Magnolia Science Academy’s Dean Sumer, in California, to the Association of Turkish Americans.

BURTON AND THE TURKISH LOBBY

Dan Burton (R, IN): “If I lived in Turkey and if I were a Turk, I would want to get those terrorists who cross the border to blow up my family, kill my kids.”

Due to the Ashcroft “gag-order,” Edmonds has not been able to say exactly what illegal activity Burton was enmeshed in with the Turkish lobby. Supposedly, the crimes occurred from 1997 to 2002 (page 159 PDF), the same time-span in which the CIA was allegedly helping Gülen train al-Qaeda. Referring to a picture gallery she set up online exposing those entangled in the scandal, Edmonds, in her Ohio deposition, says this concerning Burton:

A. I can’t discuss the details of those individuals not legal activities in the United States, but those pictures, his and others, are there because State Secrets Privilege was mainly involved to cover up those individuals illegal, extremely illegal activities against the United States citizens who were involved in operations that were, again, against order foreign government and foreign entities against the United States’interests.

Q. And Dan Burton is a representative, member of Congress from Indiana; is that correct? Is that the right place?

A. I believe he is. (46-47)

Gülen’s name does not surface alongside Burton’s during the testimony, but as I noted in a previous article, Burton has accepted campaign donations from many individuals tied to Gülen charter schools in Indiana. Lyndsey Eksili, wife of main Indiana Gülen leader Bilal, has given Burton $1000, and Hasan Yerdelen, treasurer for the American Turkish Association of Indiana, donated $1,000 in 2010, as well. A former Holy Dove official, Yerdelen’s new group belongs to the Assembly of Turkish-American Associations (ATAA), also mentioned by Edmonds.

Burton has been getting money from the Turkish PAC, too, which has ties to the American Turkish Council implemented in the Edmonds case. In an article about a recent D.C. gala party, the Gülen-influenced Today’s Zaman details the plans of the TC-USA PAC. The TC-USA PAC goes by many names. Incorporated out of Houston, Texas, it sometimes is called the Turkish Coalition PAC, the Turkish American Political Action Committee, and the Turkish Coalition USA PAC. Until May 2008, its name was the Turkish PAC – Turkish American Heritage Political Action Committee. Federal Election Commission records show Burton has recently gotten $11,000 from this group.

The Turkish Coalition USA PAC is managed by the Turkish Coalition of America’s Lincoln McCurdy, a Hanover College, Indiana, graduate and former U.S. diplomat in Istanbul, who was ATC’s CEO from 1998 to 2004, during the alleged Burton bribery scandal. McCurdy’s name appears as the treasurer of the PAC in FEC documents. The Turkish Coalition of America was founded with money from Hittite Microwave head Yalcin Ayasli, which since 2004, according to the Sunlight Foundation, has received $30 million in contracts from the U.S. government. McCurdy is no stranger to Dan Burton. Burton visitedTurkey with McCurdy and the Turkish Coalition of America. Plus, in a 2009 talk at the Gülen Institute Congressional Dinner, Burton praised how Dick Lugar was to be a future keynote speaker at the Holy Dove Foundation, and how he himself is treated like a “king” when he visits Turkey.

In the summer of 2010, Burton even hired Baran Cansever to go on fact-finding missions at congressional hearings. Cansever was a former American Turkish Council intern in 2009, where he helped plan ATC-funded trips for congressional staffers and worked with the ATC “Chairman during Energy and Defense sessions at the Annual Conference on U.S./Turkish Relations.” As I and many others have noted, those associated with the Gülen-led charter schools use trips to Turkey to dupe legislators across the country into buying into the Gülen story of peace and love.

In November of last year, Burton and Dick Lugar were hosts at a Turkish American Federation of the Midwest-sponsored event which also included the American Turkish Council’s James Holmes as speaker, British Petroleum’s Greg Saunders, and Fatih Baltaci, CEO of Enerco Energy, along with many government officials. The Turkish American Federation of the Midwest is a local branch of the Gülen-led Assembly of Turkic American Federations (ATAF); the Niagara Foundation, with ties to leaders of the Indiana Gülen charter school movement, is an arm of the Turkish American Federation of the Midwest.

Although Edmonds does not mention Lugar in the bribery scandal, his appearance at the ATAF’s gala party held at the Willard InterContinental Washington in May 2010 did not go unnoticed to Today’s Zaman, which noted: “It was no coincidence that Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) talked about the Holy Dove Foundation’s impressive interfaith and ethnic outreach efforts in Indianapolis.” Holy Dove, to refresh your memory, is one of the main Gülen groups behind the Indiana charter schools. Last month, Lugar, in fact, received over $9,200 in campaign donations from Indiana Gülenists Mehmet Dundar, Oznur Dundar, Ali Kemal Durhan, and Zehra Durhan at the Indiana Math and Science Academy.

CONCLUSION

Last year, the FBI began investigating the Gülen charter schools for visa fraud, so it will be interesting to see what, if anything, is done about Gülen’s U.S. campaign to profit his movement with U.S. taxpayers’ dollars. In Indiana, D.C. and across America, don’t expect legislators to have the interest/and or safety of the public or public schools in mind anytime soon, though. Despite Barton retiring (becoming a Turkish lobbyist?) and Lugar fighting re-election with another tea-party Republican, the Gülen empire in Indiana and around the world will continue. According to a 2010 piece in the Hurriyet Daily News, Gülen himself has called on all 180 of his organizations to be put under the Assembly of Turkic American Federations (ATAF) umbrella. Gülen is everywhere. When asked if Fethullah Gülen was a threat to United States interests, Edmonds, in her Ohio testimony said, “One hundred percent, absolutely.” Discussing the Gülen charter schools, Sibel had this back-and-forth with Krikorian’s attorney, Dan Marino:

Q. Did you say that Gulan had set up schools in the United States as well?

A. Yes.

Q. Are some of those in Cincinnati, if you know?

A. I’m not sure. I know of some in Texas. I know one in Virginia, but I don’t know. They are multiplying, and they’re spreading rapidly. (97-99)

They are multiplying, indeed, and more of them are being proposed in Burton’s own backyard.

Notes

* Edmonds’ Gülen testimony segment has been posted on YouTube. Video tapes of Edmonds’ whole deposition are available on Brad’s Blog. Edmonds’ own Boiling Frogs blog is well-worth a close read.

** Edmonds’ story has been mentioned on 60 Minutes and made into a documentary entitled Kill the Messenger. In January, a 60 Minutes episode on the U.S. Gülen charter schools was also filmed. No word yet on when or if it will air.

For Further Reading on the banal corruption of Dan Burton, see:

“The Hypocrisy of Dan Burton.”

“Two Year Sentence for Man Accused in Pakistan Spy Plot”

For more on Gülen charter schools, see Charter School Scandals, Charter School Watchdog, and Citizens Against Special Interest Lobbying in Public Schools (C.A.S.I.L.I.P.S).

The Global Imam
BY SUZY HANSEN
http://www.newrepublic.com/article/world/magazine/79062/global-turkey-imam-fethullah-gulen#



The leader of what is arguably the world’s most successful Islamic movement lives in a tiny Pennsylvania town called Saylorsburg, at the Golden Generation Worship and Retreat Center, otherwise known as “the Camp.” The Camp consists of a series of houses, a community center, a pond, and some tranquil, woodsy space for strolling. From this Poconos enclave—which resembles a resort more than the headquarters of a worldwide religious, social, and political movement—Fethullah Gülen, a 69-year-old Turkish bachelor with a white moustache, wide nose, and gentle, sad expression, leads perhaps five million followers who, in his spirit if not his name, operate schools, universities, corporations, nonprofits, and media organs around the globe.

Last spring, I visited the center and was warmly shepherded around by Bekir Aksoy, the president of the Camp. Just past a checkpoint, a portly Turkish man in a “Sopranos”-esque tracksuit was stretching, preparing for a jog. Along a road leading to the pond, we encountered a group composed mostly of Turkish men who had come from Japan to see Hocaefendi, as Gülen is respectfully called by his followers; they had been escorted onto the premises by a Columbia University student in a white Mercedes. The guest of honor for the day was a professor from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. He was fishing for trout.

The three-story building where Gülen lives resembles a cozy ski lodge. The first floor features a large, sunny breakfast room with a number of long tables. Three men sat at these tables, quietly talking. One greeted me and introduced himself. He was a journalist for a once-admired, now-defunct, Turkish political magazine; the others were Turkish businessmen.

Upstairs, on the hushed second floor, about 15 young men sat on divans against the windows and on the carpeted floors, reading. One had a laptop; he looked up and smiled, as did some others, but a few scowled at me. We were clearly disturbing them. When a young man suddenly stood up and whispered something to Aksoy, I could have sworn he was complaining about my presence. Aksoy seemed to admonish him. Later, I asked, “Was that young man upset that I was there?” “Our people do not complain,” Aksoy replied. “They obey commands completely.”

Fethullah Gülen lives on the third floor of the lodge, but I hadn’t come expecting to see him. Gülen is ill, I was told, and only sees journalists when he has something specific to say. He stays abreast of the news through summaries that are provided to him each day by assistants. Sometimes, these assistants, fearful of upsetting him—Gülen is famously sensitive—try to shield him from the harshest events. Yet despite his limited contact with the world, a sense of his wisdom persists. “He knows everything,” Aksoy told me.

In a 2008 online poll devised by the British magazine Prospect and the American magazine Foreign Policy, Gülen was voted the most significant intellectual in the world. Graham Fuller, a former CIA agent and the author of several books on political Islam, says that Gülen is leading “one of the most important movements in the Muslim world today.” Yet there is much about him that is not known. One of the biggest mysteries is how much sway he holds over his followers. Some visit Pennsylvania as much as once a month; what do they want from their visits? At the end of my tour, as Aksoy was driving me back to a McDonald’s near the Camp where I had left my car, I asked him whether Gülen tells people what to do.

“He would never tell; he suggests,” Aksoy replied. “And then what do people do with that suggestion?” I asked. “Let me put it this way,” he said. “If a man with a Ph.D. and a career came to see Hocaefendi, and Hocaefendi told him it might be a good idea to build a village on the North Pole, that man with a Ph.D. would be back the next morning with a suitcase.”

The leader of what is arguably the world’s most successful Islamic movement lives in a tiny Pennsylvania town called Saylorsburg, at the Golden Generation Worship and Retreat Center, otherwise known as “the Camp.” The Camp consists of a series of houses, a community center, a pond, and some tranquil, woodsy space for strolling. From this Poconos enclave—which resembles a resort more than the headquarters of a worldwide religious, social, and political movement—Fethullah Gülen, a 69-year-old Turkish bachelor with a white moustache, wide nose, and gentle, sad expression, leads perhaps five million followers who, in his spirit if not his name, operate schools, universities, corporations, nonprofits, and media organs around the globe.

Last spring, I visited the center and was warmly shepherded around by Bekir Aksoy, the president of the Camp. Just past a checkpoint, a portly Turkish man in a “Sopranos”-esque tracksuit was stretching, preparing for a jog. Along a road leading to the pond, we encountered a group composed mostly of Turkish men who had come from Japan to see Hocaefendi, as Gülen is respectfully called by his followers; they had been escorted onto the premises by a Columbia University student in a white Mercedes. The guest of honor for the day was a professor from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. He was fishing for trout.

The three-story building where Gülen lives resembles a cozy ski lodge. The first floor features a large, sunny breakfast room with a number of long tables. Three men sat at these tables, quietly talking. One greeted me and introduced himself. He was a journalist for a once-admired, now-defunct, Turkish political magazine; the others were Turkish businessmen.

Upstairs, on the hushed second floor, about 15 young men sat on divans against the windows and on the carpeted floors, reading. One had a laptop; he looked up and smiled, as did some others, but a few scowled at me. We were clearly disturbing them. When a young man suddenly stood up and whispered something to Aksoy, I could have sworn he was complaining about my presence. Aksoy seemed to admonish him. Later, I asked, “Was that young man upset that I was there?” “Our people do not complain,” Aksoy replied. “They obey commands completely.”

Fethullah Gülen lives on the third floor of the lodge, but I hadn’t come expecting to see him. Gülen is ill, I was told, and only sees journalists when he has something specific to say. He stays abreast of the news through summaries that are provided to him each day by assistants. Sometimes, these assistants, fearful of upsetting him—Gülen is famously sensitive—try to shield him from the harshest events. Yet despite his limited contact with the world, a sense of his wisdom persists. “He knows everything,” Aksoy told me.

In a 2008 online poll devised by the British magazine Prospect and the American magazine Foreign Policy, Gülen was voted the most significant intellectual in the world. Graham Fuller, a former CIA agent and the author of several books on political Islam, says that Gülen is leading “one of the most important movements in the Muslim world today.” Yet there is much about him that is not known. One of the biggest mysteries is how much sway he holds over his followers. Some visit Pennsylvania as much as once a month; what do they want from their visits? At the end of my tour, as Aksoy was driving me back to a McDonald’s near the Camp where I had left my car, I asked him whether Gülen tells people what to do.

“He would never tell; he suggests,” Aksoy replied. “And then what do people do with that suggestion?” I asked. “Let me put it this way,” he said. “If a man with a Ph.D. and a career came to see Hocaefendi, and Hocaefendi told him it might be a good idea to build a village on the North Pole, that man with a Ph.D. would be back the next morning with a suitcase.”



Like many foreign journalists based in Istanbul, I first became acquainted with the Gülen movement through a group called the Journalists and Writers Foundation(JWF), which invites foreign journalists to seminars on political topics and generally serves as the Gülenists’ unofficial p.r. firm. At the time, new to the country, I didn’t know the JWF was a Gülen-linked group. (In fact, Gülen serves as its honorary president.)

But it wasn’t just the JWF. As I became more acquainted with Turkey, it began to seem as if everything there was somehow linked to Gülen. Not only NGOs, businesses, and schools, but also people. “This article is good,” I would say. “Yes, but you know, that writer is Gülen,” would come the reply. Sometimes, calling someone “Gülen” seemed to reflect fear or prejudice, and pinning down whether or not any given organization was tied to the Gülen movement was rarely a simple matter. As someone at the Rumi Forum in Washington—another organization where Gülen serves as honorary president—put it, “If you say you are in [the Gülen movement], if you say that at 12:20, and say you are out at 12:21, you are out.” One Turkish acquaintance joked to me, “Who knows? Every day, when I go to the bakery or get my groceries, I could be giving money to Gülen. Who knows!” “They’re everywhere” is a common refrain. At times, suspicions about the Gülenists sound like anti-Semitism—they run the media, they’re rich, they stick together, they only help their own.

If you ask Gülenists—who blanch at the words “follower” and “member,” as well as the term “Gülenist” (in Turkish, the term is Fethullahçı, referring to his first name)—they will call themselves a “faith-based, civic society movement” or a “volunteers movement” made up of people who admire the thoughts and writings of Gülen. They are an organic network of people, they say, whose goal is to do good works at Gülen’s noble behest while spreading his message of love and tolerance, as well as his vision of Islam. According to academics who have studied the movement, there are, more or less, three levels of involvement: sympathizers, who admire Gülen; friends, who, to some degree, support or work for the movement; and the cemaat, or community, the core adherents who are closest to Gülen himself.

The Gülen movement reminds people of everything from Opus Dei to Scientology to the Masons, Mormons, and Moonies. Mark Juergensmeyer, an expert on international religious movements, says that the Gülenists echo the Muhammadiyah of Indonesia, the Soka Gakkai of Japan, and various Indian guru - led or political-religious groups. I’ve seen Gülen referred to as the Turkish Billy Graham. “If you look at some of their educational work, they remind me of Quakers and missionaries who went off to Africa,” says Bill Park of King’s College, London, a scholar who has written about the group, “but if you go all the way to the other end, it is a political movement as well.”

Gülen’s views are moderate and modern. He is fiercely opposed to violence and enthusiastic about science. According to Gülen, “avoiding the physical sciences due to the fear that they will lead to heresy is childish.” He is emphatically not a radical Islamist. “The lesser jihad is our active fulfillment of Islam’s commands and duties,” he has written, and “the greater jihad is proclaiming war on our ego’s destructive and negative emotions and thoughts ... which prevent us from attaining perfection.” He has exhorted women to take off their headscarves, a ritual he considers “of secondary importance,” in order to attend university in compliance with Turkey’s secular laws. His followers run nonprofit organizations that promote peace, tolerance, and interfaith dialogue, and Gülenist businessmen devote their resources to building secular schools.

It’s no surprise, then, that Gülen has many admirers in the West. “It’s a civic movement,” says Islam scholar John Esposito, one of many American academics who praise the Gülenists. “It’s an alternative elite within Turkish society, as in many Muslim societies, that can be modern, educated, and successful, but also religiously minded.” Particularly after September 11, Gülen’s movement had a lot of appeal in the United States, which was suddenly desperate for “good Muslims.” “It was 2003, two years after 9/11; we were just in the beginning of the Iraq war, and here’s this ecumenical Muslim movement that seems to be open to modernity and science and is focused on education,” said one senior U.S. government official who has had dealings with Gülenists. “It seemed almost too good to be true.”



Fethullah Gülen was born in 1941 in a village outside of the eastern city of Erzurum. He began praying when he was four years old, and learned Arabic from his father. At school, he met students of the Kurdish intellectual Said Nursi, and effectively joined Nursi’s movement, which was similar to a Sufi brotherhood. He became a state-licensed imam in 1958, and, after his military service, moved to İzmir. In 1969, he began preaching his own version of Nursi’s ideas. Soon, he acquired a following.

With the help of Turkish businessmen, Gülen began building dorms, or “lighthouses.” At the time, Turkey was urbanizing at a breakneck pace. Country kids often floundered, socially and financially, when they moved to the big cities. The “lighthouses” provided a religious community for these young people, one that offered help with academics and didn’t, say, watch porn or get carried away with leftist causes.

Within these safe havens, the Gülen movement introduced the pious to the possibilities of modern life. “My father was a teacher in a primary school. His father was a stonecutter,” says Kerim Balcı, a journalist who works for the newspaper Zaman, which is owned by Gülenists and claims to have the largest readership in Turkey. “And here I am a Ph.D. student, columnist, and academician probably earning my father’s yearly salary in a month.” Balcı’s life story—he hails from the small Black Sea city of Samsun, yet went on to receive his master’s from a university in Israel and is working toward his Ph.D. from Durham University in Britain—echoes the trajectory of many middle-aged Gülen followers from conservative families. The Turkish state had been founded on the notion that modernity meant rejection of religion—and, for a long time, it was dominated by a military and a political class that enforced this ideal, sometimes harshly. Gülen suggested there was an alternative path. “It may be possible to be both religious and a TV commentator,” Balcı says.

Gülenists also started to found schools. Students at these schools needed books and other materials, and from İzmir, the Gülen community began building publishing companies and creating audiocassettes of Gülen’s sermons. Stores that are now called “NT” started to sell these materials; today, there are 110 such stores in Turkey and other countries. By the 1980s, the statist economy had opened up and restrictions on religious groups had eased. The Anatolian middle class began to start businesses and make money. Gülen encouraged his people to go abroad and get doctorates in science. He instilled in his followers an almost Calvinist work ethic. To this day, even detractors of the movement will talk about how hard Gülenists work.

Their achievements have been remarkable. In 1983, Gülen’s followers founded a conglomerate called Kaynak Holding, which today includes some 15 companies involved in the retail, I.T., construction, and food industries. The main division, Kaynak Publishing, maintains 28 publishing labels. It produces hundreds of books per year on and by Gülen, in addition to books on subjects like Sufism and Ottoman history. Kaynak Publishing’s office, a beautiful white stone mansion and mosque that sits on a hill on the Asian side of Istanbul, also houses Akademi. According to the sociologist Joshua Hendrick, who spent eleven months researching the Gülen movement and whose dissertation is perhaps the most comprehensive independent analysis of it, Akademi constitutes the movement’s “central ideational node,” the intellectual leaders closest to Hocaefendi himself.

In 1986, Gülenists acquired Zaman. Feza Media Group, which publishes the newspaper, also operates an English edition, Today’s Zaman, a news agency, and the magazine Aksiyon. In addition, Feza is connected to Samanyolu Broadcasting, which operates several TV stations. (Here is how a spokesman for the JWF describes the relationship between Gülen, Kaynak, and Feza: “Kaynak Holding and Feza Media Group can be considered Gülen-inspired companies. None of these companies are controlled by Gülen or have any direct link with him. As with all Gülen-inspired projects, Gülen simply provides inspiration, motivation, vision, and some guiding and overarching principles.”) In 1996, according to University of Houston sociologist Helen Ebaugh, who has studied the movement, men encouraged by Gülen established Bank Asya, now Turkey’s largest Islamic bank, with billions of dollars in assets. Meanwhile, TUSKON, a Turkish businessmen’s association, boasts 50,000 companies as members. (“Most of our members admire Gülen,” says Hakan Taşçı, the group’s Washington, D.C., representative.) In 2002 came a charity called Is Anybody There?, which distributes international aid—and whose sponsors include Zaman, Bank Asya, TUSKON, and other Gülen-inspired groups. According to Ebaugh, Gülenists generally give between 5 percent and 20 percent of their income to the movement’s projects; she met one businessman who gave $3.5 million annually. Every year, something called the International Gülen Conference takes place in a different city; in November 2010, the Niagara Foundation, whose honorary president is Fethullah Gülen, with the help of an assortment of universities, will sponsor the event at the University of Chicago. These conferences are often keynoted by respected intellectuals such as Reza Aslan, the popular writer on Islam.

Even as the movement has sprouted numerous organizations and companies, the schools have remained at the center of the Gülen orbit. Starting with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Gülen dispatched his students to the former Soviet republics of Central Asia, where he rightly suspected that they might find some post-communist youths in need of religion. But it is not just Central Asia that hosts Gülen schools. They also exist in far-flung Muslim countries like Indonesia, Sudan, and Pakistan, as well as mostly non-Muslim countries like Mexico and Japan. In total, according to Ebaugh, Gülenists operate over 1,000 explicitly secular schools and universities in more than 100 countries. They emphasize science and technology, teach the Turkish language, and, by many accounts, are very good schools. Gülenist businessmen build these institutions and sponsor scholarships to them. Whenever you ask who’s funding anything, Gülenists reply “a group of Turkish businessmen,” “a Turkish businessman,” “a Turkish-American businessman,” or “our Turkish friends.”

When I recently visited Afghanistan, I was surprised to learn that Turks had been operating schools there since the ’90s, even during the Taliban era. They currently have schools not just in Kabul, but in Mazar-e-Sharif, Herat, Shebhergan, and Kandahar. Behind the lovely painted-pink school in Kabul were dorms where kids from all over the country sat outside, some of them eager to say hello in English. Every Afghan I spoke to in Kabul, from politicians to cooks, told me that “the Turkish school” was the best in the city. As we left the premises, the teachers gave my Afghan translator some books by Fethullah Gülen.



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, which is held annually in Ankara, and attracts contestants from 115 countries. In the George R. Brown Convention Center, 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. “How do you like my outfit?” Mike Barajas called out to the crowd. “He looks like a king, doesn’t he?” Melissa Wilson drawled. “We will have four students reciting poems,” Barajas said. “In Turkish. How about that.”

Barajas and Wilson enthusiastically mispronounced Turkish words but did much better with the names of the young contestants, mainly because many of the Texas kids participating in the event—singing Turkish ballads, performing Black Sea folk dances—were Latino and black. 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. Houston, one of the country’s major Gülen hubs, is home to the Gülen Institute; the Raindrop Turkish House, which sponsors the Olympiad; and the Institute for Interfaith Dialog. (“Many participants of the Institute’s activities are inspired by the discourse and pioneering dialogue initiatives of the Turkish Muslim scholar, writer and educator Fethullah Gülen,” is how the interfaith institute’s website explains the connection.) There are similar organizations across the country. Both Raindrop and the interfaith institute are housed in a 30,000-square-foot building called the Turquoise Center that looks like something you might see in Istanbul. Inside, photos of Madeleine Albright, Kofi Annan, and James Baker—all of whom have participated in the Gülen Institute’s luncheons and lectures—proudly hang on the walls. At the back of the building is a mosque. Last year, the building hosted a Houston mayoral debate.

Alp Aslandoğan and Ali Candir—respectively, the president of the interfaith institute and the executive director of Raindrop—took me on a tour and showed me the sketches for their new facilities. Among other things, they planned construction of a mosque, a synagogue, and a church, as well as replicas of the library from Ephesus and the Trojan horse of Troy. All it needed was a sign that said TURKEYLAND on it, and they could start charging. “Who’s paying for all this?” I asked. “A Turkish businessman,” they replied.

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. In a subsequent e-mail, O’Brien would tell me that she was “aware that some of the Harmony staff believe in the teachings of Gülen,” but said she had been involved in the school for four years and had never seen any evidence of a “hidden agenda.” Indeed, each of the mothers was completely enthusiastic about Harmony. And the school was lovely. The couches in the foyer were unmistakably Turkish; I had seen ones just like them in homes in Istanbul. Everything was strikingly clean. I noticed that one of the Turkish teachers spoke rather broken English, but this hardly seemed to matter. “My kid will know better than to schedule a business lunch during Ramadan!” said O’Brien at one point. “I didn’t even know what that was until now!”

In recent months, some Gülen schools in the United States have attracted bad press in local papers, amplified by Islamophobic hysteria on blogs. But both Houston and Texas charter-school officials told me that they had not received any complaints about Gülen charter schools, and, in fact, many of the schools were high performers compared to others in the state. The public funding of charter schools prohibits religion classes, and the Houston Turks I met seemed careful to leave their beliefs at home.

On the way to the airport, Ali Candir, the Raindrop Turkish House director, tried to explain his own motivation as a Gülenist. Candir had married a Mexican Muslim when he was establishing a secondary school in Mexico City, an experience he spoke of with sincere and touching nostalgia. “Hocaefendi used to say the idea was that Turkey was once very successful, and then it became so badly considered in the world,” he said, echoing the painful feelings of lost empire that so many Turks nurture. “You had to do something. You cannot expect to sit in one place and things will change. You have to go off and try and represent your culture and values in a good way.” Candir’s statement captured a decency that characterizes many of Gülen’s followers. Why, then, are so many Turks so wary of them?



In April 2010, I went on a JWF-sponsored jaunt to Adana, a city in Turkey’s south, with a group of journalists who had, a month earlier, taken a trip to Senegal on the JWF’s dime. Our bus arrived at the offices of a local health care NGO; there, we were greeted by some 15 men in suits who proceeded to show us a film about hospitals they were sponsoring in Senegal and Congo. The film was set to melodramatic music and ended on an image of a small black child holding a red balloon with a crescent and star on it—the colors and symbol of the Turkish flag. We then visited a massive high school and a tutoring house in a poor Kurdish neighborhood; had lunch with a group of 20 businessmen who donate $12,000 per month to Senegal; stopped by the local Gülenist newspaper offices; and listened to a panel about media and Turkish society. Everywhere we went, we were given some sort of trophy or vase or sweet.

The last event on the agenda was billed as a “dinner,” but, when we arrived, I realized it was more of a convention sponsored by a TUSKON-affiliated group. About 400 people—almost all of them men—were seated at dinner tables in a ballroom. A large stage and screen had been set up at the front. I was seated at one of the only female tables, a half-empty one. Another film with maudlin music boomed to life.

Suddenly, I heard my name. The woman next to me pushed me to get up. Stunned, I stumbled to the front of the room, and found myself shaking hands with some Turkish businessman while I accepted another gift, cameras flashing. I suspected that, someday, this photo would pop up in a Gülenist brochure, with me heralded as another of the movement’s many sympathizers. I turned, exasperated, to a JWF representative. He laughed at me. “Oh, no, now you’re part of the movement too!” he joked. “It might ruin your career!”

At that moment, I viscerally understood why the Gülenists make so many people in Turkey uncomfortable. It wasn’t a question of their religious beliefs, or even their earnest, if perhaps overdone, sense of Turkish patriotism, which sends them to Texas and Senegal to promote their culture. No, it was something else: something about the way they have gone about accumulating and wielding power, while setting up what many Turks see as a parallel society.

In 2000, Fethullah Gülen was charged with running a covert operation that threatened the integrity of the Turkish state. The year before, a video had surfaced in which Gülen said: “You must move in the arteries of the system, without anyone noticing your existence, until you reach all the power centers. ... You must wait until such time as you have gotten all the state power, until you have brought to your side all the power of the constitutional institutions in Turkey. ... Until that time, any step taken would be too early, like breaking an egg without waiting the full 40 days for it to hatch.” Gülen denied the charges, and claimed the video had been tampered with. (His defense was certainly plausible, given the military’s crackdown on various religious groups in the late 1990s.)

Around that time, Gülen, who was suffering from health problems, left for America, where he has lived ever since. In 2001, he applied for a green card. After much wrangling with the Department of Homeland Security, and with the signed support of American luminaries like former ambassador to Turkey Morton Abramowitz, he got it. He was acquitted of all charges of conspiracy in Turkey in 2006.

By then, the tables had begun to turn in Turkish politics. The authoritarian heyday of the secularists and their allies in the military was over. With the rise to power of the religious Justice and Development Party (AKP)—and, in particular, its charismatic and savvy leader, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan—the secular elites were now on the defensive. Erdoğan was not himself a Gülenist. But both he and the movement had a common enemy in the old elites. Theirs was a natural alliance. And so the Gülenists, once a target of the Turkish state, now found themselves in a position of power—or so it seemed to the many secular Turks who would, in the years to come, gradually grow more and more paranoid about them.

In 2007, Turkish police began arresting members of something called the Ergenekon organization for planning to foment chaos that would bring down the AKP government. More than 200 nationalist and secularist characters—from ex-military officers to journalists to university rectors—were arrested, and many of them are still in jail. Newspapers reported that Ergenekon had plotted to kill Armenians, Kurds, religious leaders, and Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk, among others. The AKP, the Gülenist media, and many liberals—who were tired of the way the secular nationalists had thwarted democracy for generations—welcomed the trials.

And many of the accused were, in fact, thugs who had long terrorized Kurds, Armenians, leftists, and others with their uniquely insane brand of Turkish ultra-nationalism. But some argued that among the accused were innocent targets of the AKP, which was trying to strike a final blow against the secularist elite. When policemen raided the house of Türkan Saylan—a doctor, feminist activist, and staunch secularist who at the time was dying of breast cancer—suspicions about the investigation intensified. Moreover, none of the people arrested as part of the investigation has ever actually been convicted. Turkey scholar Gareth Jenkins has argued that there is no proof that the Ergenekon organization “as described in the indictments actually exists.” Yet since Ergenekon, there have been other similar cases, mostly targeting former military officers.

There was no evidence that the Gülenists had played any role in the Ergenekon arrests, but that did not stop many Turks from being suspicious. The Gülenist media were some of the loudest champions of every odd detail propagated about the Ergenekon gang. Meanwhile, it became conventional wisdom in Turkey that there were significant numbers of Gülenists in the police force. “It is no secret that politically-motivated judicial cases such as the Ergenekon investigation are primarily driven by members of the Gülen movement, both in the police and the judicial system and in the media,” argued Jenkins.

The senior American government official who described the warm reception given to the Gülenists after September 11 says that while the movement seemed benevolent at first, “then it became clearer they had penetrated the intelligence apparatus of the Turkish National Police and that they were using it for some purpose, clearly for wiretaps and leaks to newspapers.” “There has been, or is now, a long march through the institutions,” says Bill Park of King’s College. “Even in places like the foreign ministry, it seems that Gülenists are starting to appear. What a lot of people tell me, in a way that I am starting to believe, is that they set up parallel structures within government institutions which might sometimes bypass the official structure of which they are part.”

The Gülenists deny these allegations, claim to support the Ergenekon arrests in the name of democracy, and suggest that there is nothing suspicious about the fact that followers of Gülen now work inside the state apparatus. And indeed, it often seems that both sides in Turkish politics—the old secular elite and the new religious elite—are given to paranoid thinking about their opponents.

What is undeniable, though, is that the Gülenists have not helped their case by eschewing transparency. So little is known about how the movement is structured, or whether it is structured at all. “No society would tolerate this big of an organization being this untransparent,” says Hakan Altınay, the former executive director of the Open Society Foundation (OSF) in Istanbul. “There needs to be more information about who they are, what they are doing—mission statement, board, and some kind of financial statement.” Columnist Aslı Aydıntaşbaş, who praises the Gülen-linked schools and the movement’s moderate version of Islam, nevertheless notes that “they’re not a political party, so I can’t vote them in and vote them out.” Süheyl Batum, an expert on constitutional law and the former president of Istanbul’s Bahçeşehir University, puts it this way: “I don’t think a group this influential and closed is good for democracy.”

Gülenists have a number of replies to these complaints about transparency. Some admit that the movement may need to become more transparent, but others take a harder line. When I told a group of men at the JWF that their critics wanted them to properly label themselves as part of the Gülen movement, one of them replied heatedly, “Why? I support the ideas of Gülen, and I support the ideas of Kant. Should I wear a sign that says I support the ideas of Kant?” Sometimes, they also justify their evasiveness by citing a fear of persecution. But that defense seems left over from an earlier time, when the secular elites had far more power than they do now.

In fact, a 2009 study published by the OSF and written by Binnaz Toprak, a respected sociologist, well known for her sympathy for the rights of religious people, collected hundreds of interviews with people across Anatolia, many of whom complained that those affiliated with the Gülen movement are discriminating against non-Gülenists. Businessmen feel obligated to be seen with Gülenist newspapers, and those who do not support the AKP or the Gülen community cannot win state contracts, some respondents alleged.



What do the Gülenists want? One Gülenist told me that the movement’s goal was the “betterment of humanity,” but that does not appear to be the whole story. In the beginning, it seemed that the movement was responding to a particular set of circumstances. Gülen discovered that at the center of the secular Turkish Republic was a desperate void. Much of the populace needed something besides Atatürk, or Western values, to believe in. The story of the Gülen movement is thus very much the story of Turkey’s evolution: religious Muslims using capitalist enterprise to establish a foothold in a country where they’d previously been left behind. These Turks were inspired by Gülen’s exhortation to assert themselves as full members of Turkish society. The movement’s “goal is not to establish an Islamic state,” writes Joshua Hendrick. “Such a development would be counter to its real aim, which is social power.” As one Turkish academic said to me back in 2007: “Why would they want to take over the state? They have media, schools, businesses, and the society. What do they need the state for when they have everything else?”

The Gülenists also seem motivated by a sense of nationalism and a desire to burnish Turkey’s image abroad. “What is the impact of, say, African kids learning the Turkish national anthem, of U.S. kids watching soccer games involving the top Turkish teams and being taken on trips to Istanbul?” asks Park. “Turkey doesn’t yet have the broader political, economic, and cultural footprint to follow through on this, but one can wonder whether there is a longer game being played—that the movement is putting Turkey on the map culturally and in advance of a great
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§Obama Pushes Fetullah Gulen Schools
by United Public Workers For Action UPWA Wednesday Jul 3rd, 2013 1:13 PM
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Obama and Arnie Duncan his Secretary of Education are funding and pushing privatization of education including massive public funding for the Gulen run schools.
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“Who is Fethullah Gulen, Turkey's Powerful Cleric in Self-Exile?” & California SchoolsrepostWednesday Jul 3rd, 2013 1:22 PM