Thursday, October 6, 2011

Gulen Charter Schools: Oda TV fabricates news stories for opposition leader

CHP Leader and Nedim Sener
[ Gulen charter schools forum editor: News agencies released an interesting story about the recent Oda TV case. This shows how Oda TV operates and produces news pieces. Oda TV is also identified as one of the organizations behind the anti-charter groups in the US who attack so-called Gulen charter schools operated by Turkish immigrants. ]
Evidence contained in an indictment in the case against Oda TV suggests that Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıcdaroglu ordered jailed Ergenekon suspect and journalist Nedim Sener to fabricate stories for him to use, Turkish media reported on Tuesday.
In the records of phone conversations included in the Oda TV case, Sener talks to Kılıcdaroglu and CHP Deputy Chairman Gursel Tekin. He calls the CHP leader, who was the CHP parliamentary group deputy chairman at the time, "üstad" (master) and then-CHP İstanbul provincial chief Tekin "şef" (chief).
Sener was imprisoned six months ago as part of the ongoing odatv trial, a news website whose operators were accused of aiding and abetting the terrorist Ergenekon organization.
The conversations took place in July and August 2009, nearly four months after Kılıcdaroglu lost the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality mayoral elections. The recorded calls reveal that Kılıcdaroglu encourages Sener to write negative news stories about the municipality's İstanbul Transportation Authority (İETT), asking him to report on an incident in the Eyüp district. Explaining that a couple was warned for sitting next to each other at an Eyup restaurant, Kılıcdaroglu asks Sener to send a male and a female reporter to a restaurant in Eyüp in order to see if they provoke a reaction by sitting next to each other at the same restaurant. Upon hearing Kılıcdaroglu's request, Şener asks him if he has the names of the couple that was treated badly in the restaurant. Kılıcdaroglu responds in the affirmative, and the conversation ends after Sener says he will "deal with it."
He also orders Sener to interview IETT General Manager Mehmet Ozturk, who was removed from office for being involved in irregularities in the purchase of IETT buses in 2009. Kılıcdaroglu asks Sener to question Ozturk as to why he opposed to the launch of Metrobuses, and the journalist acknowledges his request, saying: "I will see him in private. All right, üstad."
In another phone conversation Kılıcdaroglu asks Sener if his odatv can fabricate a news story about then-Transportation Minister Binali Yildirim, putting him in a difficult position.
Tekin also requests Sener to manufacture a story about Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to the records.
Kılıcdaroglu: The conversations are normal
In response to the news report regarding his orders to Sener, the CHP leader said the conversations between him and the journalist were "normal." Speaking to reporters at Ankara Esenboga Airport on Tuesday, he said the conversations represent a dialogue between a deputy who struggles against corruption and a journalist who pursues stories of corruption. "It is actually the duty of a journalist," he said. In response to a reporter's question over Kılıcdaroglu's request to send a male and a female reporter to see the reaction of the people in Eyup, he said people must focus on what the incident was about, not on the conversation.
Meanwhile, a letter received by the Istanbul Police Department on May 6, 2009 that was allegedly sent by a patriotic military officer was released last week. It also contained information about Şener. The letter claimed that Ergenekon was planning to carry out an assassination of a high-profile figure, whose name was not mentioned, such as Hrant Dink, a murdered Armenian-Turkish journalist and editor of the bilingual Turkish-Armenian Agos. Following the assassination members of Ergenekon who held key positions in the government and the police department would then dismiss every official supporting the trial against Ergenekon. Sener's responsibility, according the letter, was to organize attacks against these officials in the media.
Source: Cihan News Agency

Friday, September 30, 2011

Emmy-award winner Rita Cosby: We should apologize to Muslims

[ Gulen Charter Schools Forum Editor: We post the correction at Today's Zaman as is.]

The quotes referred to Rita Cosby which she allegedly delivered in an event at Turkish Cultural Center in New York marking the anniversary of 9/11, in an article that is set to be published on Oct. 1, Saturday, in Today's Zaman's print edition does not reflect what Cosby said. She was misquoted and we regret the error.

Source: Today's Zaman

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Why do they lie about Fethullah Gulen? by Mehmet Kalyoncu*

For many of those who have admired the ideas of the scholar Fethullah Gülen and at varying levels took part in fulfilling those ideas for the service of humanity, it has been a lamentable fact that the international community does not know as much as it should about either Gülen or the worldwide Hizmet (Service) Movement he has inspired.
From a causality perspective, it was he who masterminded the idea of teaching the children of all nationalities, races, creeds and religions a common language of peace, love and harmony, so that as responsible adults of tomorrow they could build a better and more peaceful world. It was this idea and his selfless efforts that have led to the mobilization of millions of volunteers across the world to found modern and secular schools and intercultural dialogue centers as well as humanitarian aid organizations in more than 140 countries, including in impoverished and conflict-stricken places such as Haiti, Darfur and Afghanistan. Gülen was the first Muslim scholar to publicly denounce the Sept. 11 attacks as an act of terrorism, and going even further challenged its perpetrators on Islamic grounds by saying, “A terrorist cannot be a Muslim, nor can a true Muslim be a terrorist.” All in all, given the magnitude of his service to humanity, many believed that Gülen should have long ago been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Yet, his strict principle of not promoting himself, accepting any credit for the good works attributed to him, and actually giving the credit to the volunteers of those works, has so far kept him away from the attention of the international community. In fact, many have been decorated with such awards for merely dreaming and speaking about global peace, while over the past several decades Gülen has been patiently laying the foundations for such peace to actually come about.

Apparently, this will no longer be the case thanks to his opponents, who have been systematically flooding the Internet and print media with wild allegations about him and the movement. After all, who in his or her sane mind would hear such a wild allegation as Gülen being the “most dangerous Islamist on Earth,” and not bother to do a Google search for “Fethullah Gülen”? Then, what he or she will find, in addition to some more of those allegations, is rather scholarly research on Gülen’s thoughts and practice, some of which include Jill Carroll’s “A Dialogue of Civilizations: Gülen’s Islamic Ideals and Humanistic Discourse,” Helen Rose Ebaugh’s “The Gülen Movement: A Sociological Analysis of a Civic Movement Rooted in Moderate Islam,” Muhammed Cetin’s “The Gülen Movement: Civic Service Without Borders,” and John Esposito and Ihsan Yilmaz’s “Islam and Peacebuilding: Gülen Movement Initiatives.” More importantly one would find Gülen’s very own writings and statements as well as the actual works produced by volunteers inspired by his ideals. So, bringing him to the attention of those who would otherwise not know anything about Gülen and the global civic movement he has inspired, Gülen’s adversaries are inadvertently making him ever more popular and well-known worldwide through their systematic defamation campaign. In this regard, one should expect Gülen soon to be recognized by the international community for his contributions to world peace. Then, one should also expect his adversaries to allege in self-denial that Gülen himself had designed this defamation campaign in order to attract global public attention.

But the question is, why do they make such wild allegations about Gülen and the Hizmet Movement, which based on all available and credible evidence seem to be unsubstantiated and untrue beyond any reasonable doubt? Subsequently, in what ways do they carry out their defamation of Gülen as an individual and the millions of people from different nationalities, races, creeds and religions, whose voluntary service makes up what is called the Hizmet Movement? At this point, one should note that as Kerim Balcı of Today’s Zaman rightly puts it, those allegations take different, and often self-contradicting, forms depending on the perceived fears of the target audience. For instance, if the target audience is Russian, then Gülen and his initiatives are accused of being the US’s and more specifically the CIA’s designs. If the audience is Americans and Christians, then he is accused of being an Islamist terrorist aspiring to establish a global Islamic empire. If it is the audience is Jewish, then he is portrayed as being anti-Semitic. If it is anti-democratic Arab leaders, then he is argued to be not only a Turkish nationalist bent on reviving the Ottoman Empire, but also an agent of the Greater Middle East Project by the US, that foresees the overthrow of those leaders. In terms of methodology, just like John Mearsheimer describes the different forms of public lies, these allegations too vary from outright false statements to the true facts spun in a way that would lead the target audience to make erroneous conclusions about Gülen and the Hizmet Movement.

In the American context, they lie about Gülen and his work, because the latter stands as living examples that repudiate the deliberately produced stereotypes of Islam being inherently violent and hostile, and of Muslims being a potential threat to the so-called “Judeo-Christian” nature of American society. This in turn threatens the socio-economic and political interests of those who have not only consistently injected such stereotypes into the American conscience, but also cashed in heavily on the fears fed by these stereotypes by manipulating America’s domestic and foreign policies accordingly.

Defamation of Islam and demonization of Muslims in the American conscience

As Edward Said puts it in his “Covering Islam,” for Americans, Islam and Muslims have been no more than mere elements within and of political and security concerns by the US; not because they are indifferent to learning about Islam and Muslims, but because the news coverage and the so-called expert analyses of the incidents taking place within Muslim communities had often engendered too simplistic and rather negative views of Islam and Muslims in the minds of Americans. According the prevailing discourse, Islam was, and according to a considerable number of Americans still is, a heretical religion/cult predominant across regions where the US has massive political and economic interests. It was the system that oppressed women, restricted freedom of thought and religion and encouraged its adherents to fight Jews and Christians. Academics like Samuel Huntington and Bernard Lewis, as well as commentators such as Daniel Pipes, built up such a skewed image of Islam inch by inch over the last several decades.

When Lewis argued in “Islam and the West” that history was simply a struggle between Christians and Muslims for world domination and in “What Went Wrong?: The Clash Between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East” that Muslims are enraged by the West in general and the US in particular because Islam lacks the cluster of “Western” values such as democracy, human rights and freedoms, he was basically producing pseudo-academic arguments for the disposal of the like-minded academics, policy makers, journalists and opinion leaders. Along similar lines, in his book, “The Clash of Civilizations: Remaking of World Order,” Huntington coined the concept of “the bloody borders of Islam,” suggesting that at any given time most of the conflicts across the globe either involved, or took place within “Muslim” communities, because Islam was inherently violent and not open to pluralism. Following this line, Pipes and many other like-minded pundits/columnists in prominent American newspapers and analysts at influential think tanks have frequently written rather short “opinion” pieces as well as “policy” papers propagating the same argument. Consequently, the American public has to a great extent digested this false image of Islam and Muslims. In his recent opinion piece titled “Ambitious Turkey,” Pipes’ use of heavily loaded and defamatory descriptions such as “the tyrannical, Islamist, and conspiracist mentality generally dominating Muslim peoples,” well illustrates the case in point.

So, for Americans, who have so long been bombarded with the violent images and perceptions of Muslims, Gülen and the work he inspires is an unexpected but most welcome surprise. However, for those who have for decades portrayed Islam as anything and everything that the so-called “Judeo-Christian” nature of American society is not, Gülen, his ideas, the people who are inspired by his ideas and the humanitarian-educational work that they have produced are understandably posing a threat. Such a threat exists not because of the very nature of the work that they produce, but because it defies the deliberately constructed and established image of the “Muslim” as a savage from the Middle Ages who is inherently against the Western way of life and eager to wage a “jihad” against Americans.
Consider the following cases: (1) Following protests and Quran burning in the United States hundreds of “Muslims” in Afghanistan resort to violence, killing seven UN workers; and (2) “Muslim” civil society and humanitarian aid organizations, including both men and women, were among the first to reach “non-Muslim” Haitians immediately after the devastating earthquake, serving 40,000 Haitians hot meals and constructing a hospital in Port-au-Prince to meet the medical needs of impoverished Haitians. Or, (1) An “Islamic” leader vows to wipe Israel off the map (possibly by nuking it), as well as destroying its main sponsor, which he calls the Great Satan; and (2) An “Islamic” scholar publicly suggesting that any humanitarian assistance to Palestinians should be delivered through coordination with Israeli authorities and without breaching international law. Or, (1) “Muslim” children in Hezbollah camps in southern Lebanon are indoctrinated with fundamentalist “Islamic” ideology and receiving armed training with AK-47s in their hands; and (2) “Muslim” students in cooperation with their non-Muslim counterparts from around the world compete in the international science competitions and undertake research in such vital fields as curing cancer, eradicating poverty, preventing environmental pollution and overcoming global energy shortages. The latter example in each pairing is what Gülen and the movement engenders. Quite understandably, in a country like the United States, where the news is more of an instrument manufactured to manipulate public opinion to accept certain socio-economic and political practices, any development that challenges the established “negative” image of Islam and Muslims would be unwelcome by those who have a vested interest in the perpetuation of such a negative image.

How they try to defame Gülen

In this regard, there are two major allegations that are currently employed in the United States by Gülen opponents in order to discredit and cause fear mongering about him: One that the charter schools opened in various states by Turkish-Americans are connected to Gülen, and that they are spreading “Islamic fundamentalism;” and the other that Gülen is behind the ongoing Ergenekon investigation in Turkey, which has led to the detainment of many active duty and retired army officers as well as journalists. The first allegation begs the following question: Would the US authorities that have authorized and overseen these schools, not be aware of any such wrongdoing, if any? The second allegation is a mere distortion of the facts on the ground. Currently there are 26 journalists being detained in relation to the Ergenekon investigation, and none of them are being held because they exercised their freedom of expression, but rather because of their suspected involvement in verified coup plans that aimed to overthrow Turkey’s democratically elected government. In fact, it is similar to the case of The New York Times’ Judith Miller, who was sentenced to 18 months in jail in 2005 due to her involvement in the leaking of an active CIA officer’s identity. One wonders if anybody then opposed the court decision by arguing that she was exercising her freedom of expression as a journalist. Similarly, was a Hutu radio host exercising his freedom of expression when he incited his fellow Hutus to massacre Tutsis ahead of what eventually amounted to the Rwanda genocide? Furthermore, even if a prosecutor or a police officer who happens to admire Gülen and is involved in the Ergenekon investigation went rogue and broke the law, what does it have to do with Gülen himself or the millions of others who admire his ideals?

In the final analysis, the real threat perceived by accomplices of Gülen opponents, in major capitals including Washington, D.C., actually seems to be the possibility of Turkey’s Ergenekon investigation inspiring and encouraging peoples of other countries, as well as investigating deep state arrangements that have long been running in the veins of their own societies. For them, the threat is clear and imminent: Apparently, Turkey is no longer the old Turkey, where it was easy to deal with the “real” owners of the regime, meaning corrupt military generals, bureaucrats and politicians; but with its growing civil society and strengthening economy, it is no longer easy or possible to manipulate Turkey. What if the same happens in other countries that have long been in the orbit of special interest groups within these major capitals? More importantly, what if their own masses mobilize to break the glass ceilings and claim their rightful share of political and economic resources that have traditionally remained under the monopoly of these special interest groups? Speaking of a so-called “Islamist” threat in the United States, the real questions that disturb the adversaries of Gülen are the following: What if Muslim Americans want to serve as judges on the US Supreme Court, and as senators and representatives in Congress? What if they want to command the US armies as generals? What if they want to manage giant American corporations? And, what if, one day, one of them were to become the president of the United States? What is at stake with the democratization of Turkey is quite high and critical for those whose interests have depended on it remaining an anti-democratic satellite state. It is only normal then that in all their despair, hopelessness and panic, adversaries of Gülen both inside and outside Turkey are trying to demonize him, for he and the millions inspired by him are in fact behind the democratization of their country.

* Mehmet Kalyoncu is an independent political analyst and author of “A Civilian Response to Ethno-Religious Conflict: The Gülen Movement in Southeast Turkey.”
Source: Today's Zaman

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Gulen charter schools: Remembering 9/11 and Mr. Gulen's message

“We condemn in the strongest of terms the latest terrorist attack on the United States of America, and feel the pain of the American people at the bottom of our hearts. Islam abhors such acts of terror… No terrorist can be a Muslim, and no true Muslim can be a terrorist.. A religion that professes, “He who unjustly kills one man kills the whole of humanity,” cannot condone senseless killing of thousands. For this reason, no one—and certainly no Muslims - can approve of any terrorist activity. Terror has no place in one’s quest to achieve independence or salvation. It costs the lives of innocent people. Even though at first sight such acts seem to harm the target, all terrorist activities eventually do more harm to the terrorists and their supporters. This latest terrorist activity, which is a most bloody and condemnable one, is far more than an attack on the United States of America - it is an assault against world peace as well as universal democratic, humanistic, and religious values. Those who perpetrated this atrocity can only be considered the most brutal people in the world. The world should be assured that, although there may always be some who exploit any religion for their interests, Islam does not approve of terrorism in any form. Our thought and prayers go out to the victims and their loved-one”

As appeared in Washington Post, September 12, 2011.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Gulen charter schools: Contextualizing the Gülen Movement

A variety of fears have been expressed regarding "Gülen" charter schools in Texas, from possible financial irregularities to indoctrination of children in Islam. However, neither official state inquiries nor academic studies have found any evidence to such effect. A look at the history of the movement can help us understand it as an attempt by Muslims to contribute positively to modern life while maintaining their beliefs and values.

Continue reading at the University of Chicago Web site.

Oda TV of Turkey is behind anti-charter groups in US

Today, a high court in Istanbul, Turkey, has accepted an indictment of 14 suspects, including some journalists who are accused of being members of Ergenekon, a clandestine criminal network accused of plotting to overthrow the government.

Journalists like Nedim Sener and Ahmet Sik who work at Oda TV are among those who have been arrested recently for being members of the terrorist group, not because they are journalists or writers as some American bloggers claim. The Prosecutor accuses Oda TV for being a news front for terrorists.

A little digging on the Internet reveals that Oda TV is a big supporter of US bloggers who attack charter schools, so-called Gulen charter schools in particular, operated by Turkish immigrants in US.

Oda TV blaim the Gulen movement for Sener’s and Sik’s arrests and cooperate with ultra-nationalists in the smear campaign against charter schools in the US.

Gulen met with Pope John Paul II
in late 1990s
The Prosecutor charged Sener and Sik with supporting a terrorist network accused of plotting a coup, asking 15 years in prison. The Prosecutor charged the network for aiming to create chaos in Turkey, hatred against Americans and Christians (examples would be organized attacks against Christians in Malatya, the murder of a Christian priest in Trabzon, assasinations of Greek and Armenian community leaders, and Hrant Dink’s murder, a prominent Armenian writer). Ergenekon is also identified as the group behind the assassination attempt at Pope John Paul II in 1981.

Oda TV feeds false information to ultra-nationalists in US through a Twitter account called CASILIPS. Interestingly, among the followers of the account is Dani Rodrik, a Harvard professor and the son-in-law of Cetin Dogan, a retired general arrested and charged with planning a military coup against the current government in Turkey.

It is clear that the Ergenekon terror organization is one of the major groups behind the smear campaigns against so-called Gulen charter schools and it is very unfortunate to see some Americans act along with this terror organization knowingly or unaware.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Gulen charter schools: CAP's Islamophobia Report raises some new questions

Aydogan Vatandas* discusses CAP's new report and how it relates to so-called Gulen charter schools.

A study on Islamophobia in the US, released by the Washington-based Center for American Progress (CAP) on Friday, highlights how a small group of donors fund misinformation experts who promote Islamophobic sentiments and how their misinformation spreads through the media and grassroots organizers like Eagle Forum.

The research was also reported that these misinformation experts are also manufacturing a smear campaign against the Gülen movement, inspired by the teachings of Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, in the US.

The extensive study, titled "Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America," was conducted through the collaborative efforts of prominent experts like Wajahat Ali, Eli Clifton, Matthew Duss, Lee Fang, Scott Keyes and Faiz Shakir.

According to the research, five experts generated the misinformation and materials used by political leaders, grassroots groups and the media. Those experts are:

Frank Gaffney at the Center for Security Policy
David Yerushalmi at the Society of Americans for National Existence
Daniel Pipes at the Middle East Forum
Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch and Stop Islamization of America
Steven Emerson of the Investigative Project on Terrorism

The research revealed that these misinformation experts have been very influential on Islamophobia groups in 23 states, exemplified by Brigitte Gabriel's ACT! For America, Pam Geller's Stop Islamization of America, David Horowitz's Freedom Center and existing groups, such as the American Family Association and the Eagle Forum.

According to the report, this small network of people is driving national and global debates that have real consequences on the public dialogue and American Muslims.

The research also shed light on the key foundations that endorse these misinformation experts by channeling $42.6 million between 2001 and 2009 to their efforts to spread hate and misinformation.

In the research, these top seven key foundations are listed and ranked according to the amount of founding as follows:

Donors Capital Fund
Richard Mellon Scaife Foundation
Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation
Newton and Rochelle Becker Foundation
Russell Berrie Foundation
Anchorage Charitable Fund and William
Fairbrook Foundation.

The Donors Capital Fund, which is listed at the top in the report, contributed $21,318,600 to groups promoting Islamophobia from 2007 to 2009. The research revealed that this money went to the Middle East Forum, Clarion Fund, Investigative Project on Terrorism and the David Horowitz Freedom Center.

One of the significant parts of the research claims that these misinformation experts have served as source for Anders Breivik who shot and killed 77 people in Norway on July 22.

In the research, it was reported that Breivik cited Robert Spencer, one of the anti-Muslim misinformation scholars, and his blog, Jihad Watch, 162 times in his manifesto. Another member of this "network of Islamophobia" in America is David Horowitz and his Freedom Center website. Spencer's frequent collaborator Pamela Geller and her blog, Atlas Shrugs, were also mentioned 12 times by Breivik.

According to former CIA officer and terrorism consultant Marc Sageman as quoted in the report, the writings of these anti-Muslim misinformation experts make up “the infrastructure from which Breivik emerged.”

Now, it is important to make a distinction and say that even though some of these misinformation experts are of Jewish decent, like David Yerushalmi for example, not all Jewish organizations are in the same alarmist line.

For example, the Anti-Defamation League reviewed Yerushalmi's activities and concluded that he has a "record of anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and black bigotry.

The research also pointed out that The Eagle Forum, which is classified within the Islamophobia network, has targeted the Gülen movement, labeling it as a threat of radical Islam, although it actually devotes itself to education, global peace and mutual understanding efforts.

Noting that the Eagle Forum partners with Brigitte Gabriel's ACT! for America and Frank Gaffney's Center for Security Policy to push anti-Muslim issues, particularly anti-Shariah hysteria, the study explained: "At its 2011 Eagle Forum conference in St. Louis, Missouri, for example, Gabriel, Gaffney and others in the network revealed a new supposed threat: Muslim Gülen schools, which they claim would educate children through the lens of Islam and teach them to 'hate Americans'."

"Worse, the speakers alleged that President [Barack] Obama's support for charter school reforms was a back-door strategy for using taxpayer money to fund the schools," it added. "Of course, Gülen schools are nothing of the sort. They are the product of moderate Turkish Muslim educators who want 'a blend of religious faith and largely Western curriculum'," the study, nevertheless, maintained.

Now we should also remember a disappointing article appeared in The New York Times on June 7, by Stephanie Saul titled “Charter Schools Tied to Turkey Grow in Texas,” which attempted to defame Harmony Public Schools in Texas.

The research raises the question of whether the article was a part of these misinformation campaigns or not.

As we remember quite well, the article contained an explicitly anti-immigrant bias and suggested that Harmony, one of the most successful charter school programs in the US, is somehow suspect because its founders were Turkish immigrants. Unfortunately, the impressive success story of Harmony students was barely mentioned in the article.

This New York Times article triggered some other biased articles in The Times Picayune of New Orleans, leading the charter of Abramson Charter School to be revoked. The school was run by the Pelican Foundation, which was established in December 2005 and primarily focuses on math, science and technology. Now, they are trying to start a similar smear campaign against Kenilworth Science and Technology School, which also operates under the Pelican Foundation.

Now, I think it is necessary to clarify here that even though these schools are often called Gülen schools, in fact they are quite different. As a reporter, I interviewed some of the founders of these schools and they claim that they have no affiliation with the Gülen movement, which has devoted itself to global peace and education in all over the world. Is it bad to be affiliated with the Gülen Movement? Most definitely not, but even though some of the founders of these schools migrated from Turkey and were inspired by the teachings of Mr. Gülen, they are American citizens and it's their constitutional right to choose to identify themselves however they want.

Mainstream American media, interestingly, remains silent about CAP's research.

* Aydoğan Vatandaş is an investigative reporter based in New York and holds an MA in media studies.
Source: Today's Zaman

Monday, August 29, 2011

Gulen Charter Schools: More from Islamophobia Report

Center for American Progress summaries how ultra-nationalists are organized and funded. This draws a clear picture of actions of bloggers who attack so-called Gulen charter schools
Fast facts on the Islamophobia network 
This in-depth investigation conducted by the Center for American Progress Action Fund reveals not a vast right-wing conspiracy behind the rise of Islamophobia in our nation but rather a small, tightly networked group of misinformation experts guiding an effort that reaches millions of Americans through effective advocates, media partners, and grassroots organizing. This spreading of hate and misinformation primarily starts with five key people and their organizations, which are sustained by funding from a clutch of key foundations. 
The funding 
• More than $40 million flowed from seven foundations over 10 years.
• The foundations funding the misinformation experts:
Donors Capital Fund; Richard Mellon Scaife Foundation;
Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation; Newton and Rochelle Becker
Foundation and Newton and Rochelle Becker Charitable Trust;
Russell Berrie Foundation, Anchorage Charitable Fund and William
Rosenwald Family Fund; Fairbrook Foundation.
The misinformation experts 
• Five experts generate the false facts and materials used by political leaders, grassroots groups, and the media:
• Frank Gaffney at the Center for Security Policy
• David Yerushalmi at the Society of Americans for National Existence
• Daniel Pipes at the Middle East Forum
• Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch and Stop Islamization of America
• Steven Emerson of the Investigative Project on Terrorism
These experts travel the country and work with or testify before state legislatures calling for a ban on the nonexisting threat of Sharia law in America and proclaiming that the vast majority of mosques in our country harbor Islamist terrorists or sympathizers.
David Yerushalmi’s “model legislation” banning Sharia law has been cut and pasted into bills in South Carolina, Texas, and Alaska. His video on how to draft an anti-Sharia bill and his online tools have been picked up nationwide.
The reach 
• The movement is moving nationwide in more than 23 states—made possible by a combination of new, single-minded Islamophobia groups, exemplified by Brigitte Gabriel’s ACT! For America, Pam Geller’s Stop Islamization of America, David Horowitz’s Freedom Center, and existing groups such as the American Family Association and the Eagle Forum.
• Misinformation experts are broadcast around the country and the world, with their work cited many times by (among others) confessed Norway terrorist Anders Breivik.
• U.S. politicians such as Reps. Peter King (R-NY), Allen West (R-FL), and Michele Bachmann (R-MN) repeat these anti-Muslim attacks give credence to incorrect facts.
The impact 
• This small network of people is driving the national and global debates that have real consequences on the public dialogue and on American Muslims.
• In September 2010, a Washington Post-ABC News poll showed that 49 percent of Americans held an unfavorable view of Islam, a significant increase from 39 percent in October of 2002.
Why it matters 
• These attacks go right to the heart of two critically important national issues: the fabric and strength of our democracy and our national security. Our Constitution upholds freedom of religion for all Americans.  Contending that some religions are not part of the promise of American freedoms established by our founders directly challenges who we are as a nation.
• One of Al Qaeda’s greatest recruitment and propaganda tool is the assertion that the West is at war with Islam and Muslims—an argument that is strengthened every day by those who suggest all Muslims are terrorists and all those practicing Islam are jeopardizing U.S. security.
Source: Fear, Inc.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Financial Sources of Anti-Charter Groups Named

Supporters of Islamophobia in US donated about $43 million during the last decade a report says. 

"Sometimes the money flowing from these foundations and their donors is clearly designed to promote Islamophobia, but more often the support provided is for general purpose use, which the think tanks and grassroots organizations then put to use on their primary purpose - spreading their messages of hate and fear as far and wide as they can," according to the report from the Washington-based the Centre for American Progress (CAP).

The report also points out the cooperation between hate groups to organize attacks against so-called Gulen charter schools: "At its 2011 Eagle Forum conference in St. Louis, Missouri, for example, Gabriel, Gaffney, and others in the network revealed a new supposed threat: Muslim Gulen schools, which they claim would educate children through the lens of Islam and teach them to “hate Americans.” Worse, the speakers alleged that President Obama’s support for charter school reforms was a back-door strategy for using taxpayer money to fund the schools."

For more information visit the Center for American Progress web site.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Imaginary Gulen Charter Schools and Getting Help from Overseas

This article is about Gulen charter schools: Once again, Mary and the alike are wrong in presenting the reality and information. She refers to the results of an internationally administered test (PISA) and ridicules the fact that Turkish students are behind their US peers in reading and math, so she asks how bringing Turkish teachers is going to help American kids. (tags: gulen charter schools)

As she is not a researcher, she is not very bright, either. It takes about only five minutes to look at the data presented by PISA reports and figure out that the reality is not so. []

Although American kids' average score is 500 in reading and literacy, the results are very much diverse in terms of race, ethnicity and level of income. Asian and white American kids scored 50-100 points more than their black and Hispanic peers. (charter article: gulen charter schools) The difference between the wealthy and the poor is worse, more than 110 (pp. 15-16).

This is the reality in the U.S., this is called the achievement gap educators must be attacking as of last decade. If we compare these results, you could say Asian American kids are living in South Korea, the number one among OECD countries, and African American kids are living in Chile, the bottom of the chart. Unfortunately, such gaps exist in many countries, not necessarily only by race, ethnicity and wealth but other factors as well, though, wealth is considered a common factor.

The PISA reports also compare how 15-year-old kids from different percentiles scored by country. The 5th percentile of kids from Turkey scored 325 in reading while their American peers 339. At the 90th percentile, the scores are 569 and 625 respectively. This means that Turkish kids who scored at the 90th percentile had better average than their Asian American peers in average (541) at all percentiles.

Majority of Turkish teachers at the charter schools managed by Concept Schools -so-called Gulen charter schools are coming from top universities in Turkey where only kids who perform at the 95th percentile or higher are accepted. The cut-off scores at the state-administered university-entrance exams for these universities fall into the top one percent. Language barriers can be tackled easily but core knowledge in subjects like math and science takes years of quality education and training.

When we look at the demographics at the Concept-managed charter schools -imaginary Gulen charter schools-, maybe we could estimate how students at these schools would perform had they taken the PISA test. The average free and reduced lunch eligibility at Concept-managed schools -so-called Gulen charter schools- is about 75%. The PISA results show that American kids at the 75% of free and reduced-price lunch eligibility received an average score of 446. Since students at Concept-managed schools -what they call Gulen charter schools - outperform their peers in their respective cities at the state-administered tests, it would not be wrong to estimate that they will score around and above 446 and it would not definitely be wrong at all to import teachers from countries overseas or groups with high scoring averages.

I do not think Mary and the alike will follow my advice, but I will share anyways. Let's listen to what the Secretary of Education, Mr. Duncan, tells us today (1/31/2011). Along with other well-known public figures, he points out that only 2% of teachers today are black males and "the nation’s teacher workforce does not reflect the diversity of its student when only one in 50 teachers is a black male. This is a national problem." With more than 70% African American students attending to Concept-managed schools -so-called Gulen charter schools with 100% college acceptance rate, we have a chance to respond to Mr. Duncan's call and encourage our students to attend to college, and colleges of education in particular.

So, let's use our energy and means to focus on this problem. Let's focus on raising more teachers. Let's focus on closing the achievement gap. Horizon Science Academy Cleveland High School -an imaginary Gulen charter schools- with an excellent record of being a college prep school, has received the National Recognition for nothing but closing the gap.

It takes a village to raise a kid. It would definitely take the whole world to change a generation. At this day and age, the globe has become one giant village.

Why shouldn't we call these school Gulen charter schools?

And, why do we call this site Gulen charter schools forum?

Schools around the world that are associated with the Gulen Movement are mainly tuition-based private schools. These schools are operated by private firms owned by Turkish businessmen, sometimes partnered with local firms. They claim a hundred percent ownership.

Charter schools are not private schools. They are public schools because they are funded by the states they are located in. Federal law requires charter schools to be owned and established by a non-profit organization. The board of directors of a non-profit organization may choose to hire a charter management organization to run their school or choose to operate the school by themselves. Majority of the boards around the country do not have this expertise. This is why usually charter schools advertise themselves as “tuition-free privately-run public schools.” Law also gives charter schools more freedom in forming their own sets of rules allowing them to stay innovative and quickly respond to unexpected conditions. 

We cannot call charter schools operated by Turkish individuals or organizations Gulen charter schools because they are public charter schools operated and overseen under federal and state laws of non-profit organizations. No person can claim any ownership of any of the schools in question. All of the so-called Gulen charter schools are audited annually by state auditors in their respective states.

There are a group of anti-charter, anti-Turkish websites on the Internet whose operators are disgruntled teachers, teacher unions, or anti-Gulen Movement groups from Turkey. Their job is to form a web of blogs to reach out parents to diverge them from sending their kids to these schools through misinformation, false accusations and lies. News articles on this issue refer to these blogs instead of parents who send their loved ones to these schools. Who would you trust? A few disgruntled ex-teachers or thousands of parents who keep their kids at these schools?

We call our website Gulen charter schools forum to be on the same page with these xenophobic websites when a parent, a researcher or a teacher searches Gulen charter schools on the web so that the truth can also be seen along with their lies.

Truth prevails. Stay with us.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tax money pays for visa expenses at Gulen charter schools

America belongs to immigrants. Who would argue this? (Probably, immigrants who arrived earlier and, of course, Native Americans. J)

We will not discuss US immigration policies here, however, for the sake of the argument; we can say that her most welcoming laws and policies are based this very fact. Founding fathers knew this and they embedded it into the law.

In this day and age, the world has become a global village with billions traveling around; trillions of dollars are invested in and out of countries. Governmental expenses and investments probably form a significant portion of the global trade. As such, taxes we pay each year are spent and invested domestically as well as internationally, and travel the world million times.

The reason we mention all this is that anti-charter bloggers complain about visa expenses Gulen charter schools make because it is their tax money.

You can argue their claim from many aspects. One would be, as long as state auditors audit schools annually and approve expenditures, tax money belongs to schools. You cannot argue then how schools allocate their funding. This fact gives them the goosebumps the most.

However, the most important aspect they are having trouble with is that if everybody on Earth would request their tax money to be spent as they wishes and not for the others, we would not have any government at all (a Tea Party dream! J).

Here is an example...

The Government of Turkey initiated a project to increase the number of universities across the country within the following fifteen to twenty years in early 1990s. To fill the faculty positions these future universities would need, the Government borrowed interest-bearing millions of dollars from the World Bank to sponsor thousands of Turkish nationals to pursue Master’s and Doctorate degrees at prestigious universities around the world. This was a big investment for the future of Turkey and these days we see the results of this grand project: the number of universities has been quadrupled and most of the positions have been filled by mainly US-educated professors.

The cost of this project to Turkish tax payers: billions of dollars and majority of it was paid to US institutions. Thousands of graduate students have attended US colleges and universities and their tuition, living expenses and health insurance have been paid by the Government. Each graduate receives a montly allowance of $1,200. It takes 5-7 years to finish a Ph.D. You do the math. In average, $85,000 is paid for living expenses only. The project still continues!

Should Turkish taxpayers complain about their Government’s payments to US institutions? Especially, because the receipient is a foreigner?

The first thing that comes to your mind is what? “Well, this is a trade. You pay and get a quality education back.” Exactly!

This is what American parents receive from Gulen charter schools: Quality education. And, it is in their proposal that their model involves foreign experience. They bring, adopt, alter foreign curriculum, methods, culture, and blend them altogether with local experience. That’s why parents at these schools are attracted and put their names on waiting lists.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

FBI Scrutinizes Attackers of Gulen Charter Schools

Horizon Parents on So-called Gulen Charter Schools posts a great article on recent developments involving charter school attackers.

Let's remember what happened in Oslo, the capital of Norway, a couple of weeks ago. A man named Breivik set up bomps in the middle of the city and killed hundreds of people mercilessly. He did this because he had a mission which was dictated to him by a mysterious underground organization that is rooted in the Middle Ages. His mission was to kill everybody who was different than him, his nationality, and his religion. His exclusivism led to the mass kiling of innocent people whose only guilt was to be different than him.

The heartbreaking event in Norway was a warning to all sound minded people across the globe. The message that we draw from it is that ultra-nationalism and xenofobia are as dangerous as cancer for the health of our society.

Foodsteps of ultranationalist terror
After this and the event in Arizona, the United States government has taken a step forward to prevent such events before they take place again here in our country. Now the FBI is conducting a research to scrutinize those individuals and organizations that are promoting ultra-nationalism and xenofobia in U.S. society. An agent who does not want to release his name said that the FBI is very serious on this investigation and they are willing to question everybody who has any suspicious activity to this merit. Without doubt, this investigation includes those who are relentlessly attacking Gulen charter schools. These Gulen charter schools are under attack just because they are managed by Muslim Turks. Turkish educators are legal residents of this country and they are working hard for the better education of our children. Yet some ultra-nationalists undermine them by creating lies and fictions about these schools. They are a netwok of people and this is an organized attack. After each attack, they congratulate each other. Here an example:


The ultimate goal of this group is not to excercise the freedom of speech through these attacks, rather to help to form more hate groups. If there happens to be a hate attack at one of these Gulen charter schools, take this as a warning sign it will be coming from one of these persons, or someone inspired by them. They also develope strategies for how to attack better the Gulen charters:

Between now and the beginning of school keep it up. Blog often and communicate everywhere 2 state officials (2 different states have responded) they are alarmed and want answers, have your back up documentation, if you have problems finding it, reach out to us!!! Hit hard on the Islamic and Turkish indoctrination, money fraud, un credentialed foreign teachers. Paper trail is always good to have. Get local media involved, not all are bought off with expensive ads from the schools, talk to your local school districts, teachers, and politicians. Above all educate yourself on charter state laws, regulations, read Gulen's web site and learn what motivates them. Know thy enemy!!”

I hope this FBI investigation will be a serious warning to the attackers of the Gulen charter schools. If they do not take heed of that and stop their baseless attacks, they will have to bear the consequences. Stop discrimination!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Not Mr Gulen teaching radical Islam but charter schools students making experiment

Those angry blog users would probably say that this is something that Fethullah Gulen thought to the charter school students, when they see the below video. They are also the same folks who invented such weird phrase of Gulen charter schools out of nowhere. This is a production of their ill imagination. It is not only Gulen charter schools phrase, but also juxtaposition of Fethullah Gulen and radical Islam into the same text. How funny it is. Let us remain silent here and bear witness to the power of science.

Gee it is not Mr Gulen teaching radical Islam on the video, but the brilliant students of Horizon charter schools experiencing the power of science. Congrats guys.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Chicago Tribunes Affirms There Is No Gulen Charter School

Let us read what the Horizon parents quoted from the Chicago Tribunes about so-called Chicago Gulen charter school:,0,1140682.story
Charter trouble

5:12 PM CDT, March 16, 2011

Teachers at the Chicago Math and Science Academy, a charter school on Chicago's North Side, want to unionize. Normally, that wouldn't be much of a story. Most teachers belong to unions.

But not most teachers at charter schools. Charters were created in the 1990s to be innovative and to put the needs of kids before those of the adults. They were set up expressly not to be bound by the stultifying union rules that dictate nearly every minute of every day in Chicago public schools. That's why the law that created charters effectively barred the Chicago Teachers Union from organizing the employees.

But with CTU's help, the Illinois Federation of Teachers and American Federation of Teachers created a separate union, the Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff, to organize employees campus by campus. So far, they've succeeded on eight of Chicago's 103 charter campuses: About 350 to 380 teachers of 2,200 have joined.

That's unfortunate because union rules pose a threat to charters' independence. Charters generally set longer days and hours that boost student performance. They are wildly popular with students and parents, and tend to have long waiting lists of applicants. Charters show how, with dedicated teachers and the right atmosphere, any student can learn. All of that is a direct challenge to the status quo that the unions defend.

If charter school teachers join the union, the risks are steep that those schools will eventually slide into the same kind of adults-first, innovation-squelching morass that produced the last 232-page contract between Chicago Public Schools and its unionized employees.

That's why the stakes are so high in the Math and Science Academy case. The crux: Are charter school teachers private employees of the charter operator? Or are they public workers, like CPS teachers? That distinction is crucial. Private employees must organize under stringent federal rules, which require a secret vote for teachers to join a union.

The regional office of the National Labor Relations Board ruled last year that the teachers are public employees who can organize under more lenient state rules. The ruling noted that the teachers work for a school financed largely by public money, and that a 2009 Illinois law explicitly said those teachers can organize under state rules.

The ruling, and the 2009 state law, are being challenged by the Chicago Math and Science Academy. Its lawyers argue that academy teachers are private employees who don't work for a public agency but rather a private charter operator, and therefore must organize under the stringent federal rules.

About that 2009 state law: We supported it because it included an increase in the number of charter schools that could be started in the state. But the price for that — making it easier for unions to organize charter teachers — is coming due. And it is too steep. Illinois instead needs to boost charter independence and innovation.

Lawmakers can start by repealing the 2009 clause that makes it easier for unions to organize charter teachers. They also should equalize funding for charters, so that public school districts can't shortchange them, as they do now.

And charter operators can be smart, too: Pay teachers competitively, offer them training and a strong voice in how to improve instruction and student performance. That's the best way to ensure that charters — and students — flourish.

Illinois needs to help good charters thrive, not choke them with union rules.

Copyright © 2011, Chicago Tribune

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Gulen charter schools does not teach Islam but simply Basketball

They falsely say that imaginary Gulen charter schools teach Islam and even radical Islam. Who would believe in this? As you can see from the picture, they are not studying Islam, but playing simply basketball.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Gulen and Children; How About Imaginary Gulen Charter Schools?

See, children love Gulen. Gulen's connection to children is apparently from heart. Gulen is concerned about the future of them. Thus he expressed his ideas on education in various occasions. Yet, Gulen has not opened a charter school in the US. That is why there is no Gulen charter schools by any means. Gulen inspires educators, but does not run any school, e.g. Gulen charter school.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Does F. Gulen Look Like Ladin?

Wearing a jacket and a shirt with shaved face. Does Gulen, who is the mysterious owner of Gulen charter schools in the US, look like jihadist Ladin? I don't think so. Gulen does not run any US charter school. Thus there is no such Gulen charter schools. It is an urban legend.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Food for Thought by Gulen on Education and Charter Schools

Fethullah Gulen offers valuable ideas for American public on education and charter schools. But he has never owned a Gulen charter school in the United States.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Are The Attackers of Gulen and the Charter Schools Connected to Ergenekon?

Come on in, we are discussing charter schools

I just came across a blog saying that the attackers of Mr Gulen in the US are somewhat connected to the Ergenekon group in Turkey. Is that true? Ergenekon trial is still going on. But it is obvious that these people plotted a military coup against the legitimate government of Turkey. Moreover, they also objected to diminish the Gulen Movement. They are Ergenekon in Turkey. How about in the US? Who are they? I mean the ttckers. Are they paid from Turkey? Or are they getting help from their Turkish friends because they seem quite knowledgable about the Turkish dicourse about Mr. Gulen and Gulen inspired schools. Why do they try to create an illusion of such Gulen charter schools?

BTW Who is this mysterious Mary constantly attacking Gulen and the charter schools? In one of her comments, she said that she will not talk about Gulen and the charter schools in a positive manner. May I ask why? Does she adore Bin Ladin instead of Gulen? Does she prefer terrorists like Ladin instead of peace builders like Gulen? Is she really serious?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Hitler Finds Out Gulen Charter Schools

While surfing on the internet about the so-called Gulen charters, I just jumped into this interesting and funny as well video. I think you will alos enjoy it.
Gulen charter schools, huh? It is so funny.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Tell Me More About This Gulen and Charter Schools

As I mentioned before, I am seeing some blogs around talking about Fethullah Gulen and the charter schools allegedly related to him and the movement gathered around his philosophy and ideas. Some discuss it in a  manner that deserves appreciation, whereas some others do not recognize any moral etiquette in attacking these schools and Mr. Gulen. Someone should remind them that even in wars of ancient times, there are some rules to consider. But the latter does not hesitate to employee even profanity in his/her writings. Should I take this as an indicator of his/her personality? It seems that I will.

In the mean time, I just came across some personal emails of Concept Schools' employees in one of these web pages. Are they real, or someone wrote them down on a word document and then transformed into PDF docs, so that they could be seen as original. How can we trust the publisher because it is well known her inclination to chicanery. I am torn. Someone tell me more on this.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Gulen Charter Lovers!

Let's continue our discussion on the charter schools allegedly affiliated with Fethullah Gulen and the Gulen Movement. Some guys, in this case, came up with some crazzy ideas on the topic. For instance, Paul Williams asserts that Gulen Movement is nothing than a CIA front in Turkey and the Central Asia. Isn't it funny? People will laugh at it like hell. But, wait. There is even more crazy ones like Sibel Edmonds, an ex FBI agent. If she was a trustful person, she would be continue serving for the FBI. But apparently she is not. Now, should we take her seriously? She says that Gulen opens madrasas in the US. She means Gulen charter schools! by madrasas. Everybody not only in Turkey, but in all over the world knows that Gulen supports modern or Western style education. Then, why is she calling those charter schools as madrasas. Interesting. Finally, Mary who is still benefiting from Gulen charter schools. She used to work for them once. Now, even though she is not an employee in any of these charters allegedly linked to Gulen, she is still making money via them. Are you wondering how? She is hired to attack those schools by labeling them as Gulen charter schools. The more she attacks, the more she gets bonuses. By the way, we learned that she is a person of love. She loves Turkish teachers as much as she loves green dollars. Her heart is restless for loving people! Read the rest of the story from

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Gulen Charter Schools or Gulen-Inspired Schools?

Well, here is the question. How should we call those schools; Gulen charter schools, or Gulen inspired schools? Which one is your favorite?

Another way of calling them is to simply use the original name of each charter schools, e.g. Horizon Science Academy managing by Concept Schools. This seems to be the most apropriate way of callling them.

Nonetheless, those gooses who relentlessly attack, for instance, Concept managed schools call them Gulen charter schools as if there was such an umbrella name of charter schools. Food for thought; call always people and institutions with their roper names.

Who is this Gulen, by the way? Anybody heard of him? Okay, if you do not know about him, let me just say this. He is a Turkish Muslim schoolar who lives in a kind of self exile in the Pocono Mountins. All of his speeaches and works are public so that those who want to get some inspiration can benefit from his universal as well as Islamic thoughts.

Let's go back to our main discussion; Gulen charter schools, or Gulen inspired schools? Well, for me it is more accurate to just call them with their propper names. That is why I always do. If you guys have a better idea, you are more welcome to say it. Here is my final thought, they are not Gulen charter schools, but THEY ARE