Turkey President Erdogan Brings Complaint in Texas against Gulen’s Harmony Charter Schools By Jerry Gordon
The Wall Street Journal reported, May 25, 2016 that the Turkish government under President Erdogan retained the Washington, DC law firm of Amsterdam and Partners to file a complaint before the Texas Education Agency. The complaint was against a network of 46 Harmony Charter Schools founded by adherents of his one-time Islamist ally, Sheik Fethullah Gulen. The complaint alleges discrimination in hiring practices; a reference to hiring Turkish staff and instructors under H1B visas with little to no experience rather than qualified US instructors.
Sheik Gulen has lived in virtual exile in a fortified complex in the Poconos Mountains since successfully appealing an extradition order issued by the then secular Turkish government in 1998 accusing him of fomenting a coup. Gulen had important US friends vouching for him, including the Clintons, who provided testimony in a 2008 extradition hearing that went in his favor. The global Gulen Movement (GM) encompasses 1,100 schools in over 100 countries, 135 of them here in the US with an enrollment exceeding 50,000 or more in 26 states, organized as charter schools. Sheikh Gulen is said to control a fortune estimated at over $25 billion, including media outlets, such as Turkey’s leading news daily, Today’s Zaman now under the editorial control of his bête noire and former Islamist ally, Erdogan. Gulen has been characterized as the most dangerous Islamist in the world. The GM’s Hizmat (service) doctrine controls nearly 80 percent of enrollment in Turkey’s preparatory schools. Erdogan’s attack on Gulen and his empire had the objective of closing the Turkish GM prep schools.
Private investigations conducted in 12 states and FBI raids on GM schools in Louisiana and Illinois exposed abuses of students and other allegations. Legislation was passed in Tennessee and other jurisdictions seeking to control the hiring abuses cited in the Texas complaints. See a June 2011 presentation by the author, Unveiling Gulen Schools in Tennessee. The legislation contains restrictions on the proportion of foreign workers brought in under the H1B visa program as administrators and faculty at charter schools. It specifically targeted the abuses by the GM operated science and mathematics academies. State legislators were often entreated by free trips to Turkey to sample the cuisine, culture and vibrant economy of the country. GM US academy sponsoring groups have also made contributions to the political campaigns of state legislators in those jurisdictions that have granted charter licenses.
Hundreds of millions of dollars of US taxpayer funds have annually gone to support these science academies targeting largely African American and Hispanic minority communities. They extol the virtues of education and exposure to Turkish culture and language. The WSJ article reported the Gulen Harmony network as Texas’ largest charter school system, serving 30, 500 students with a focus on math and science. In 2012, the Harmony Schools received a US Department of Education $30 million grant as a “Race to the Top” winner.
The Erdogan government has also been endeavoring to seek Sheik Gulen’s extradition for prosecution of suspected involved in a coup against the AKP government. This fracas arose over alleged Gulenist prosecutors and affiliated news media in Turkey accusing the autocratic President of corruption and muzzling a free press. The AKP government purged prosecutors and made major Gulen affiliated news media subject to government editorial control.
Nearly two years ago, the Lisa Benson Show made the Gulen Movement (GM) Schools in Arizona an issue in the Republican primary campaign of former Attorney General Tom Horne. Horne had previously been the Superintendant of Public Instruction, an elected post in Arizona. Arizona had chartered 12 GM academies. Horne asked to come on the Show to promote his candidacy. A caller during the program drew attention to a report on the GM Sonoran academy in Tucson that Attorney General Horne had visited in his capacity as the former Superintendent of Public Instruction for Arizona.
Notwithstanding, the presentation of information conveyed during the broadcast on the GM academies in the US, the stealth jihad agenda of the GM doctrine propounded by Sheikh Gulen, Horne saw nothing that would cause him to investigate their operations in Arizona. This despite the evidence of both state and FBI investigations in other jurisdictions. Benson noted that he endorsed Gulen even after she presented him with open source information that they supported him when he was Superintendent of Public Instruction in Arizona. Horne suggested to Benson that he wanted to focus on the charter schools run by La Raza rather than on Gulen. La Raza is an extremist Latino group fostering rejectionist views of America. This was the problem du jour for Horne.
Horne told Benson that, “I am not soft on Islam issues, but I don’t see anything wrong with Gulen.” Horne was defeated in the August 2014 Republican primary barring him from re-election as State Attorney General. The revelations about Horne’s support for the Gulen Movement academies in Arizona may have played a part along with other campaign revelations.
We find it ironic that two former Turkish Islamist allies are pitted against one another in Texas over publicly funded charter schools espousing stealth jihad under the guise of teaching math and science.