Thursday, September 29, 2016

Gülen's charter schools in US - Nagehan Alçı - Daily Sabah

Gülen's charter schools in US - Nagehan Alçı - Daily Sabah:

Gülen's charter schools in US

During President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's U.N. Summit meetings with top U.S. officials in New York, the primary subject matter was the threat posed by the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) and the extradition of its leader, Fethullah Gülen. Washington still issues tepid remarks and no tangible indication of Gülen's extradition is yet in sight, but the charter schools founded by this cult began to be highlighted in U.S. media. Seemingly, the schools started to have difficulties after FETÖ's financial networks began to be scrutinized. The cult's U.S. media outlet links are employing lobbying forces to influence U.S. media headlines in favor of the schools.

For instance, in the Wall Street Journal's last weekend issue a caption was titled "Turkey's Battle With Muslim Cleric Careens Through U.S. Classrooms." The report explained how the attorney Robert Amsterdam, who represents Turkey on the FETÖ issue, stands against those schools when California's charter-school chain attempted to open an outpost in the Silicon Valley suburb, ultimately trying to prove that the schools are not directly linked to Gülen.

After mentioning Gülen's age and health issues, the news report covered the defense of the schools from the mouths of the representatives of FETÖ. There are more than 150 Gülen-linked charter schools in the U.S. and the schools have been suffering from serious difficulties since the FBI started to scrutinize FETÖ's movements of money. They have been trying to gain ground through media lately by activating their lobbying forces.

In another news report released by Reuters on Monday, it is argued that these schools, which constitute an important employment and commercial activity source for FETÖ, are financed with public money. According to the report, there has been a serious decline in the growth of the schools within recent years due to the investigations kicked off in more than 10 states. The investigations are ongoing by focusing on various aspects including the misappropriation of the funds received from tax payers and frauds on visas.

Only three schools of that kind could be opened in the U.S. in the 2015-2016 term, while the number of newly opened schools was 23 in 2010. Aside from the schools, the cult does also have serious networks in the business world and civil society in the U.S. Some companies are being investigated on state or federal levels with allegations that they are suspected in activities pertinent to the schools. One of the most striking outcomes of the investigations is that some persons providing financial assistance to FETÖ schools were revealed to have sponsored several U.S. Congress members' visits to Turkey. The attorneys conveying the arguments of Turkey assert that these schools earn 500 million dollars of income annually and employ this income in various activities against Turkey.

The ongoing investigations in the U.S. are crucial to unveil the octopus-like legs of the group abroad. In recent interviews, Turkey's Council of Higher Education (YÖK) head Professor Yekta Saraç also emphasized another danger posed by the group: The ones who were educated in charter schools abroad and came to Turkey to study. Their exact number is not known, but these people constitute a significant source of anxiety. In brief, FETÖ is a cult that has links and contacts in many areas and its PR force is still influential abroad. The schools in the U.S. have started to feel the effects, but there are hundreds of other schools in dozens of other countries. Explaining the networks and activities of this illegal group on international level with solid evidences is essential to support and verify Turkey's arguments.Gülen's charter schools in US - Nagehan Alçı - Daily Sabah:

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