On Saturday, August 31st, I was one of the speakers at the “Expose the Gulen Movement” protest rally held on a farm in the rural, rolling hills around Saylorsburg, PA. We assembled less than two miles from the compound where Fethullah Gulen lives.
Gulen is considered to be one of the two most powerful men in Turkey. Those who attended the protest have a common interest in shedding light on the Gulen Movement’s activities. To many Turks and Turkish-Americans, Gulen is using his power to undermine modernity, secularism, democracy, and women’s rights not only in Turkey, but throughout the world.
This is the video of my speech about the Gulen charter schools, starting at 00:45 min.
Earlier that day, Gulenist operatives had driven around to take down the signs that organizers had posted to help guide protesters to the rally.
I also spoke at yesterday’s “Expose the Gulen Movement” conference in Piscataway, NJ, attended by 100 people, mostly Turkish Americans. My segment starts at 40:00 min. and lasts 20 min.
I understand the conference was simultaneously broadcast in Turkey. (Note: Sadly, the audio quality could be better.)
In both talks I explain how the privatization of public education has allowed the Gulen movement to establish the largest charter school network in the US. Their 146 charter schools will enroll over 60,000 students this year. The schools’ taxpayer-supplied revenue is up to approximately one-half billion dollars per year.
Preceding me in both videos is Mary Addi, a former Gulen charter school teacher. She was interviewed in the 60 Minutes piece.
The moderator at the conference is Kaya Boztepe, ex-president of the Federation of Turkish American Associations.
The panelists seated at the table are a retired Turkish admiral and two Turkish journalists. The journalists, who have been critical of the government and the Gulen Movement, spent nearly two years in jail after being arrested under terrorism charges. They were finally released but I understand their trials are still pending and it is expected that they will be found guilty and end up with long sentences. Turkey now leads the world with jailing journalists. More about those panelists in this post.
I must emphasize that the panelists and conference attendees are extremely alarmed by Fethullah Gulen and his followers’ escalating power in Turkey and elsewhere, and the manner in which they have acquired it. Gulen left Turkey in 1998 and has been hiding out at his compound in the US ever since. However, he periodically delivers his opinions through his media organs in Turkey (Zaman newspapers) and also gives weekly sermons to his followers online @ http://www.herkul.org/
In Pennsylvania I met a local resident who reported seeing guards with “machine guns” at the entry of the compound in the late 1990s. Locals have also seen helicopters flying over the compound. I’ve read reports about those things, but never knew if they were true or not.
Keep in mind how odd this must be — along with the emergence of two Turkish-American organized anti-Gulen protests held this summer — for the Pennsylvanians who live in what is normally an extremely quiet rural area.
Over the past two days, I also met a lot of Turkish Americans with personal stories of their own about being negatively-affected by the Gulenists. This group’s stealth strategy is brilliant. They intimidate and threaten their critics and many people have become afraid of speaking out against them.
The big question is why is our government letting this group run so many charter schools? And why are so many of our public officials allowing themselves to be courted by this group?
What I continually hope for is a time when we will have a broad, informed, public discussion about this situation.
Please educate yourself about the Gulen Movement. For instance, you can start by listening to this new Australian Broadcasting Corporation interview with Joshua Hendrick about how the Gulen Movement works (first 45 minutes; transcript also available). Please share and talk about the situation with other people you know.
I periodically post new information at https://twitter.com/sharonoak but the very best source of information is https://twitter.com/CASILIPS.