LUCKY SEVERSON, correspondent: His name is Fethullah Gülen. He is a 69-year-old Turkish Islamic scholar and author, apparently in poor health, who came to the US seeking medical treatment. He lives a secluded life at a retreat in Pennsylvania. So why was he voted by his admirers in a survey by Foreign Policy magazine as the most significant intellectual in the world? Among those admirers are Kemal Oksuz and Alp Aslandogan. Correction Lucky, Gulen is no scholar and has a 5th grade education. No admirers except the Gulen Movement who has a voting and letter writing campaign going on to further Hizmet.
KEMAL OKSUZ (President, Gulen NGO Turquoise Council of Americans and Eurasians): Kind, modest, humble, generous. We see him as a source of information, inspiration, but never prophet. He would be the one who would be troubled the most if he hears that followers or inspirers see him kind of prophet. Kemal has never met Gulen as the exiled leader of the movement lives as a prisoner on his 25 acre compound in PA.
ALP ASLANDOGAN (Institute for Interfaith Dialogue): Personally, he is definitely very knowledgeable, very sincere in wanting the best for the people—not just Turkey, but for all humanity. Not knowledgeable about life outside of Islam, as Gulen has never lived among others and only has a 5th grade education. Not sincere, Gulen wants domination of the world and Turkey - Please note the Islamic Flag of Turkey next to Texas and America's Flag in front of an American Tax supported School. The one thing Gulen and his movement want to do is promote Turkishness and Islam as acceptable to young children worldwide. Nice Try Aslandogan, do you want to talk about your recent talk with Dr. Joshua Hendricks and why the Harmony Science Academy and other Gulen Charter Schools should come clean?
SEVERSON: Gülen has inspired his followers to build schools, provide humanitarian aid and engage in interfaith dialogue. University of Houston Professor Helen Ebaugh, who wrote a book on the Gülen movement says the movement got its start when Gülen was an imam in Turkey. Lukewarm admission
of the Schools affliation, remember Dr. Ebaugh is a paid speaker and researcher for Gulen. Dr. Ebaugh (See Video Below) has stated "Gulen has 25 Schools in Texas, they are Charter schools and they are causing problems."
PROFESSOR HELEN EBAUGH (Dept. of Sociology, University of Houston; Author of “The Gülen Movement”): When Fethullah Gülen began preaching in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s in Turkey, his message was we don’t need more madrassas. We need schools that would promote science and math and secular subjects, and his contention was that one can be modern and one can be scientific and still be a good Muslim. What is your point Dr. Ebaugh? The schools are hardly performing well. Turkey was 32 out of 34 countries in the OCED Education ranking - BELOW AVERAGE above Chile and Mexico. If these Gulen Charter Schools are not about Islam and gaining Turkish sympathizers, then take down the Turkish Flag and stop the Turkish Character Classes and Turkish Olympiad. American money should not be paying for this.
SEVERSON: Bill Martin is a senior fellow in religion and public policy at the James Baker Institute at Rice University. He says the Gülen movement is different from fundamentalist Islam because they respect all faiths and believe religion is compatible with science. Religion is compatible with science? Then why does Turkey perform so low on worldwide Math, Technology and Science Scores? Why are the Gulen Charter Schools only earning awards at Gulen Foundations/institution OWNED contests like: Science Olympiad, Math Matters, Consef, Turkish Olympiad and more. It is hard to lose an award or honor when the Gulen Movement is sponsoring it.
WILLIAM MARTIN (Senior Fellow, James Baker Institute at Rice University): I think it’s fair to say that Islam has had difficulty in coming to terms with modernity, and in that I think that the Gülen movement offers a much more positive picture of what Islam can be. The Gulen Movement is loosely based on Sufism, this is not the majority in Turkey - Sunnis is. The Gulen Movement has proven no positive picture and is currently under investigation in Turkey for 194 counts.
SEVERSON: Gülen-inspired volunteers from Turkey bring Turkish language and culture with them. In Houston they sponsor a Turkish Olympiad where American Harmony Science Academy students compete in Turkish dance and song. The winners compete in an annual competition in Ankara, Turkey. There are more than a 1000 Gülen-inspired schools and universities in over 100 countries. American tax Dollars pay for this
MARTIN: Gülen has always emphasized education, and that really lies at the core of this movement. To be a good Muslim meant to be well educated, and to be a good Muslim who participated in modernity meant to be conversant and well educated in science, math, and technology.
OKSUZ: Education helps you overcome ignorance, poverty, corruption, hate, extremism, racism, whatever, all the illnesses of the society. Because of that education is very important. Oksuz HONESTY is also important - not "Keeping Secrets" as instructed by Gulen.
SEVERSON: In Texas there are 33 nationally recognized public charter schools with over 16,000 students grades K through 12. They’re called Harmony schools, and the Turkish superintendent insists they are strictly secular and in no way connected to Gülen. They are all connected to Gulen and the teachers brought in From Turkey and other Turkic countries have two criterias 1- Must be a member of Hizmet (mostly men) 2- Had gone to one of Gulen's schools in Turkey. All are KNOWN members of the Gulen Movement. Why do you think this article is mentioning Gulen and the Harmony Science Academies? DUH? Professor Ebaugh says there’s a reason for this kind of sensitivity.
EBAUGH: I think a lot of that is related to the Islamophobia that exists in this country. I think there is a lot of fear that Islam is trying to take hold of this country and countries around the world—that it’s trying to spread itself. Not Islamophobia it is the lack of transparency and accountabilty that the schools are in fact part of the Gulen Movements worldwide grand ambition. Although after this article you have made it clear there is a definate connection.
SEVERSON: About 60 percent of the kids in the Texas Harmony schools come from disadvantaged neighborhoods. The schools say they have a 100 percent graduation rate. No wonder there are 21,000 kids on the waiting list. Severson, look below the December 2009 board meeting Soner Tarim is quoted in print as saying the waiting list is 9,000-14,000 Soner has never quantified this. Are we to understand that the Harmony Schools current enrollment is 16,000 YET their is a waiting list that exceeds enrollment of 21,000?
Or is this another of the selling tools used to get more uneducated parents to sign up under sense of urgency? Personally I have never spoke to ONE parent that had to wait to get their child enrolled at Harmony Science Academy. Prove it. This is Soner's way of trying to get more American Tax Education money.
MARTIN: I think the Harmony schools are an outstanding example of what the Gülen followers have been able to accomplish in particular with respect to education. Of the three high schools that had graduating seniors this year, only three students had not already been admitted to a four-year college at the time of graduation. This is not true, first of all the 12th grade always is the lowest amount at the Harmony Schools, the drop out rate from Harmony is between 1-3 years. Hardly any way the schools can tell if they are making an impact or not. As a rule these schools are known for fudging on tests, and other data to keep the flow of American money coming in.
PHOEBE TAYLOR (Teacher, Harmony School of Innovation): I know teachers who stay up here seven o’clock at night, eight o’clock at night who are also working at night from home. Ask Phoebe how many years she has been teaching and how many years she has spent at Harmony School of Innovation?
CHUCK LAMBERT (Teacher, Harmony School of Innovation): They know our expectations for them. Through kindergarten all the way through high school, they know this is a college school. Our goal is to get you into college. Chuck is also a newer teacher and the 10-12th grade enrollment numbers are always the lowest. How convenient that they have some non-Turkish teachers quoted. So talk about the American teachers that are canned to make room for the over 400 H1-B Visa teachers and other "workers" that Cosmos is bringing in.
SHARON QUINILTY (Teacher, Harmony School of Innovation): I have never worked harder. But you really see the results. Because the parents are very involved, the kids really respond. Sharon was that you that wrote a letter to the Texas Tribune see below.
OKSUZ: Gülen—not only he urges teachers to go and work at these schools, on the other hand he urges people from all walks of life to go and support all these schools. Build up schools instead of mosques. Build up universities instead of mosques. Build up cultural centers, interfaith organizations, aid organizations, hospitals instead of mosques. When did Gulen urge this? Interfaith organizations are about a "show" a speaker a presentation or some big award. The Cultural and Interfaith centers of Gulen are about promoting 1 culture and 1 religion. Then there is the photo and media opportunities that follow like the 1 time meeting with the late Pope John Paul II who had previously been shot by a Turkish nationalist.
SEVERSON: Supporters say Gülen owns nothing himself but has persuaded others to give generously to many independent organizations. Gulen's empire: Media (Today''s Zaman,Fountain Publishing, ERBU TV) education over 600 schools worldwide, Interfaith Dialog, insurance, banking, etc., is estimated to be $25 billion in worth. Gulen lives very comfortably as the prisoner of his own empire NEVER leaving the Golden Foundation in Pennsylvania.
EBAUGH: The movement has become quite wealthy. It’s one of the richest movements in Turkey. It has private hospitals, it has all these private schools. There’s a big media industry, one of the biggest in Turkey. It has the Zaman newspaper. Kimse Yok Mu is one of the latest. That’s their relief organization. They help disaster victims all over the world. Thank you Ebaugh you at least admitt the movement is wealthy. The relief organizations come with more schools and hospitals Turkish controlled worldwide. The children in these relief areas such as Pakistan, Congo, etc., are given red balloons with Turkey's flag on it and the Turkish flag to wave. There is always a method to the Gulen madness. Yes they did contribute to the IHH which sponsored the Flotilla.
SEVERSON: Kimse Yok Mu and in the US Helping Hands contribute millions of dollars in humanitarian aid each year. Professor Ebaugh says in Turkey Gülen urged businessmen to grow their businesses and give a part of their earnings, as much as a third, to support humanitarian aid and education. The teachers and other "employees" that the Schools are bringing to the USA (Cosmos has immigrated over 1,100+ since 2001) Tuzuk (donate) over 40% of their salary back to the foundations like Cosmos, Raindrop Turkish House, Turquoise Council, Gulen Institute and more. Some go without pay as slave labor.
EBAUGH: The movement is financed not only by these wealthy businessmen, but more importantly it’s financed by everybody in the movement. Everybody contributes, and the average seems to be about 10 percent. Try 40% Tuzuk, this is why the schools don't want to hire Americans, they abuse the H1-b Visas to get reimbursements from their Gulen salaried
ASLANDOWAN: I go beyond the expected level in my income level. For all of this my motivation is that just like God loves us as human beings we also should act in a manner that is pleasing to God. And I believe that all of these actions—charitable donations, volunteerism—are pleasing to God. That’s why I’m doing all of this. Aslandowan are you one of the people that has privately loaned money to bail the schools out? Whats this?......is this why the Concept Schools, Cosmos Foundation, et al are applying for Bond loans to pay back private debt?
SEVERSON: Alp is a volunteer in charge of the Institute for Interfaith Dialog in Houston, which is located in the Raindrop Turkish House. This is a mockup of the projected interfaith center, which will include a Jewish synagogue, a mosque, and a Christian church. Gülen has always stressed the importance of interfaith dialogue to promote peace and has met with Pope John Paul II and reached out to leaders of many religious minorities. And he may have been the first Muslim leader to condemn the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Gulen met the late pope 1 time over 15 years ago, as a regular man in a suit not as a Imam in his prayer clothing. Gulen brought Pope John Paul II a gift for his birthday, then a photo opportunity that the Gulen Movement still pushes off on people today (yawn) . Talk about the current Pope Benedict and his remarks about Turkey and Islam. Go make nice with the CURRENT pope.
ASLANDOWAN: He immediately posted an ad clearly saying that this was an anti, a non-Islamic act. It’s not even a human act. The people who committed this are not Muslims; they can not even be called humans. He said Bin Laden is a monster and people around him are monster if they think like him.
SEVERSON: Alp Aslandowan says Gülen teaches that suicide attacks cannot be justified in Islam. Cultural and Education Jihad is what the Gulen Movement performs.
ASLANDOWAN: Some people try to justify the killings, homicidal killings, by saying that those people who are engaged in those, they don’t have any other means, and he said that this is not a Muslim’s view. It cannot be a Muslim’s thinking, because for a Muslim if the end result, if the end goal is virtuous, worthwhile, holy, then the means should also be holy. Allah Akbar, Gulen does NOT SPEAK for 90% of the world's muslims.
SEVERSON: Professor Ebaugh says the movement could do better by placing women in leadership roles. Gülen is not without his critics. As a whole the Gulen Movement is male centered and women have very secondary or low roles. This is the Gulen Movement, which also believes in scarf wearing - hijabs. Women have no place in the Gulen Movement. Gulen himself never married and has no women around him.
EBAUGH: The big issue in Turkey for the critics is the fear that the movement is becoming very powerful, very wealthy, and that there is a sub rosa agenda to create an Islamic state, and they always compare it to Khomeini and Iran. Dear Ms. Ebaugh, you have no idea what we think in Turkey, every time you have been to Turkey PAID by the Gulen Movement, your trips are strategically guided to only staged areas.
MARTIN: I think there’s no warrant to the charges that Gülen wants to take over and impose Sharia law. I think that, frankly, is an absurd fear. Gulen himself has stated "you must work into the arteries of the system without being noticed until you reach all power centers. This article was an admission that the Harmony Schools in fact are influenced by Gulen and managed by known members of the Gulen Movement. Gulen wants to dominate education worldwide, and has already been thrown out of several countries and denied Charter School Applications in the USA. the estimate worldwide is between 600-1,000 schools creating Turkish and Islamic Sympathizers so Turkey can finally dominate the areas of the Ottoman Empire again and gain a foothold on the economic resources in Africa, Central Asia and other areas. If this is not about Gulen Expansionism then someone should tell the school to remove the Islamic Flag of Turkey. This is a Texas School in the Country of America, the flag of Turkey has no place in an American tax supported school.
OKSUZ: The movement is neither sect nor cult. It is a civil society movement. It is politcal and religious as well as "social" Gulen is aligned with the current Islamic leaning AKP party of Turkey and on September 12th Gulen instructed his followers to vote "YES" Gulen is very much involved with politics and religion the civil society is only the means to control the political /religion in a country. Hence, the reason Gulen was exiled out of Turkey.
MARTIN: Sometimes they are accused of being a missionary, a missionizing entity. As far as I know, I don’t know anyone through the schools or otherwise that they’ve tried to turn into a Muslim. The Turkish Character Classes are based on Gulen's Pillars of Wisdom, you will find that many of the books at the schools are printed at Gulen's publishing house Fountain Publishing.
SEVERSON: For the time being, those who follow Gülen, both critics and admirers, seem to agree that he is leading one of the most important movements in Islam. It is only important as it involves $billions of American money being washed and laundered with these numerous Gulen Foundations via the schools. Why do you think this article encompassed all the Gulen NGOs in Texas as well as the Harmoney Science Academies?
Thank you for finally showing everyone that the Harmony Science Academies are linked to the Gulen Movement.
UPDATE 1/31/2011 KEMAL OKSUZ'S POLITICAL CONTRIBUTIONS