This post was written by Sharon Higgins, a parent activist and indefatigable blogger in Oakland, California. Her blogs include “Charterschoolscandals,” wherein she tracks the amazing variety of graft, theft, corruption, scandals, and other predictable consequences of deregulation of public money with little or no oversight (I.e., privatization). She has written on many occasions about the proliferation of Gulen-inspired charters, which are now the largest chain in the nation.

Higgins writes:

This weekend, hundreds of people from all over the country, mostly Turkish Americans, are traveling to Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, to protest Fethullah Gulen at his remote compound in the Poconos. Among other activities, Gulen’s followers (a.k.a. the “Gulen Movement”) operate a global network of schools, including the largest charter school network.

Yesterday, an Associated Press report about the protest was picked up by news agencies across the US. A local paper published a more in-depth piece (“Protesters expected at Saylorsburg Islamic center: West End cleric criticized by opponents of Turkish regime.” Pocono Record, 7/10/2013). Both articles mention that a Facebook page was created two weeks ago to organize the event.

In conjunction with the major Pennsylvania protest on Saturday, July 13, a small protest will take place at a Gulen Movement-associated charter school in Oakland, California.

In addition, Mary Addi, the former Ohio Gulen charter school teacher who appeared on last year’s CBS 60 Minutes report about Fethullah Gulen, has started an online petition calling on the Obama administration to investigate the “Gulen-inspired” charter schools for “violating the civil rights of American teachers and administrators for the past eleven years by blatantly ignoring federal age, nationality, and gender equal opportunity laws.” It needs our signatures.

How the protest and the Turkish uprising are tied to Fethullah Gulen and his followers

The Pennsylvania protest is an extension of the Turkish protests that have been drawing international attention since late May. The Turkish uprising is against actions and policies of the country’s leadership and Islamist-leaning Justice and Development Party (AKP), the ruling party which took power over a decade ago. These excerpts describe how Fethullah Gulen and his followers are directly connected to the current Turkish regime:

— “Gülen is considered one of [Turkish Prime Minister] Erdoğan’s most powerful allies but is reviled and feared by much of Turkey’s population.” — “Letter from Turkey: The Deep State.” The New Yorker, 3/12/2012

— “But the [Gulen movement’s] stealthy expansion of power — as well as its tactics and lack of transparency — is now drawing accusations that Mr. Gulen’s supporters are using their influence in Turkey’s courts and police and intelligence services to engage in witch hunts against opponents with the aim of creating a more conservative Islamic Turkey… We are troubled by the secretive nature of the Gulen movement, all the smoke and mirrors,” said a senior American official, who requested anonymity to avoid breaching diplomatic protocol. ‘It is clear they want influence and power. We are concerned there is a hidden agenda to challenge secular Turkey and guide the country in a more Islamic direction.’” — ““Turkey Feels Sway of Reclusive Cleric in the U.S.” The New York Times, 4/24/2012

— “When the moderate Islamist AKP took power in 2002, the Gulen movement provided indispensable support for [Prime Minister Erdogan] with its extensive influence in the media, police and judicial system.” — “Who is Fethullah Gulen, Turkey’s Powerful Cleric in Self-Exile?”, International Business Times, 6/6/2013

— “Followers of [Fethullah Gülen] have established a global network of schools, banks, insurance funds and media outlets. They present themselves outwardly as modern, but pursue an uncompromisingly Islamist agenda. And increasingly, they are calling the shots within the Turkish government…” — “Turkish Power Struggle: Brotherly Love Begins to Fray in Ankara.” Der Spiegel, 6/25/2013

Where’s that big, investigative piece, Mr. Hayes?

As an American Foreign Policy Council report of March 2013 astutely points out at its conclusion: “The charter school experiment has resulted in the United States being the only country in the world where the Gülen Movement has been able to establish schools fully funded by the host country’s taxpayers.”

Got that everyone?

In March 2012, Chris Hayes, host of MSNBC’s All In and Editor at Large at The Nation tweeted this question: “How come no one has done the big, investigative piece on Turkish Imam Fethullah Gulen and his movement’s global school network?”

Well that’s a really good question, Mr. Hayes. With most taxpayers still in the dark about this secretive and controversial group and its highly questionable and alarming activities — and with four new Gulen charter schools opening next month (bringing the total to 139 schools in 27 states) — maybe it’s time for you to press on that using your influence as an important member of the US media.

By Sharon Higgins
Oakland, California