Gulen Schools Worldwide

Gulen Schools Worldwide
Restore the Ottoman Caliphate. Disclaimer: if some videos are down this is the result of Gulen censorship which filed a fake copyright infringement to UTUBE.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Gulen International Festival of Language and Culture, Washington DC, fdba Turkish Olympiads


The Turkish Olympiads have changed to International Festival of Language and Culture

The end of April brought celebration throughout Washington, D.C as more than 100 students from 17 countries and 4 American states gathered together to showcase their talents. On April 26th, over 1,500 spectators gathered upon the ‘backyard’ of the White House to witness the rich multicultural diversity of our world as part of the 2015 International Festival of Language and Culture. With the national mall as a backdrop, the President of the Rumi Forum, (co-organizer of the event along with the Turkic American Alliance) Emre Celik took the stage welcoming those in the audience and those huddled backstage eager to perform. Mr. Celik  urged everyone to “reflect upon the importance of increasing our understanding of people of all backgrounds and showing due respect to the difference and diversity that exists.” and that “It is the beauty in difference that allows the mosaic of our humanity to shine and prosper…”
The performances began with participants from Albania singing the theme of the IFLC with ‘Colors of the World’. Other participants included youth from Thailand, France, Texas, Washington DC, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Serbia, Tunisia, South Africa, Kazakhstan, Bosnia and India. Further on in the show Bosnia, Kosovo, Serbia and Albania did an uplifting joint performance, singing ‘Heal the World’, with other youths eventually joining them in support on stage. The event concluded with the final performance of the song ‘Universal Peace’ where all the participants gathered on stage in an expression of friendship and hope for the future.

The main event of the International Festival of Language and Culture was held on April 28th in the historic Warner Theater in downtown Washington, D.C drawing over 2,000 spectators. IFLC has been hosting its language and culture festival for the past 12 years, each year drawing in participants from over 160 countries across the globe, with over 1,000 student performers each year at numerous regional events worldwide. In its 13th year, the IFLC was brought to the nation’s capital who is one of the many cities co-hosting this international event.
Among those who attended the festival were U.S. Representatives BIll Pascrell (NJ), Mark Takai (HW), Jeff McNerney (CA), Michael Capuano (MA), Randy Weber (TX), Donald Payne Jr. (NJ) and Henry Cuellar (TX), former Congressman Lincoln Davis (TN) as well as former Attorney General Clarine Nardi Riddle, and NBA Oklahoma Thunder’s, Enes Kanter, while the star of TV shows Community and The Soup, comedian Joel McHaleemcee the event. Several government officials and ambassadors could also be spotted in the audience. The countries which were represented at the Festival were Albania, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, France, Germany, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Lesotho, Mongolia, the Philippines, Serbia, South Africa, Thailand, Tunisia, Ukraine and the U.S., which was represented by participants from Arkansas, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Texas.
The students opened the event with the festival’s de facto anthem ‘Universal Peace’, after which Joel McHale invited Dr. Faruk Taban, President of the Turkic American Alliance (TAA) onstage for opening remarks. In his speech he thanked all of the volunteers, sponsors, guests, most importantly the students and their teachers, the TAA staff, including the support of all the sponsors MAFTAA (Mid-Atlantic Federation of Turkic American Associations), ATFA (American Turkish Friendship Association) and the Rumi Forum. The Director of Interfaith & Intercultural Affairs at the Rumi Forum, Jenna Luedtke was then invited on stage to read a message for the event from the Rumi Forum’s honorary President, Mr. Fethullah Gulen:
Our world suffers from numerous forms of iniquity and decay. The one thing that remains pure and untainted is love. There is nothing more real and everlasting in any society, than love.
What is more dazzling than love itself, is the expression of love by children who radiate love through the purity of their hearts. Wherever this internalized love is expressed through the language of presence, all other sounds cease, all instruments stop and only the melody of love is heard.
Children who are participating tonight, who blossom all around the world as flowers of love, give a message to all of humanity with their presence. They demonstrate, under the wings of the love of humanity, that we can all live in peace and tranquility, we can all see diversity as treasure, and we can all enrich ourselves through our interactions with one another.
As they grow through their involvement in activities such as the international language and culture festival, they also serve world peace through the magic of their poetry, the power of their rhetoric, the charm of their verse, and through the universal language of music.
Blessed are the teachers who nurture the future generations with the elixir of love!
Good tidings to those who walk the journey of life with love as their guide!
And thousands of thanks to their hosts who welcome these children from around the world, poised to build the future of humanity!
Throughout the night over 20 performances graced the stage and were met by a supportive audience who enthusiastically applauded their amazing talents, including their message of peace and co-existence. Enes Kanter shared his thoughts during a short break and expressed how happy he was to be there, as he graduated from one of the schools affiliated with the IFLC. To close out the festivities the students joined together in performing ‘Universal Peace’ one more time. Afterwards, guests had the opportunity to meet the performers and take pictures.
The 14th Annual International Festival of Language and Culture went viral with the #ILFC2015 spreading across the different social media outlets. In addition, Mustafa Akpinar, Principal of the Pinnacle Academy, along with several student performers were guests on ABC 7 Morning News with Adurey Godfrey.

As part of the International Festival of Language and Culture, students took to Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C to showcase their performances in the Cannon House Office building to an excited audience of 17 U.S Representatives and over 150 congressional staffers. The Hill enjoyed the diverse and engaging performances from students from 20 different countries, bringing unity and cooperation to their halls. The students opened with a riveting performance of ‘Colors of the World’ while the audience sampled some Turkish cuisine presented by the sponsors of the IFLC. After the performance they had the unique opportunity to personally connect with the students. Including those in attendance were Jan Schakowsky (IL), Thom Tillis (FL), Darrell Issa (OH), Mike Honda (CA), Charlie Dent (PA), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL), Alan Grayson (FL). All praised the immense talent that the performers showcased, including the diverse nations they represented, with Congressmen Dent commenting that “it is very important to have these types of cultural exchanges…the IFLC is soft diplomacy at work.” Some Representatives even took the opportunity to take a selfie with all the students up on stage!
The students who came from all over the world to perform their talents multiple times in front of huge audiences in the nation’s capital said that it was friendship that truly brought them to the U.S. and it is the new friendships they made while they were here is what will bring them back.
Performers also had the opportunity to tour the White House and witness the rich history of Washington D.C from a boat cruise down the Potomac River.
The Rumi Forum extends their gratitude to all of the sponsors involved in putting this event together including TAA, MAFTAA, and ATFA, and the community for all its support

Friday, November 6, 2015

Gulen Schools in Tajikistan are the latest to close

Tajikistan has become the latest Central Asian country to close schools linked to the Gülen movement, a global religious and social movement founded in 1992 by the controversial U.S.-based Turkish Imam Fethullah Gülen. The charter schools, which have operated with the support of the Tajikistan-based Salale Education Institution, have faced considerable resistance over the last two years, and have been under investigation since January 2015. The decision to close the schools was announced by President Emomali Rahmon in May. It is a decision that signals further religious oppression and reflects the emerging partnership between Tajikistan and Turkey.
The Gülen movement, also known as the Hizmet Service, opened its first school in 1982. Today, it is believed to operate more than 1,000 schools worldwide. That number is set to decrease because of school closures in Turkey and other countries. Fethullah Gülen was influenced by the teachings of Kurdish theologian Said Nursi and focuses on compatibility and cohesiveness between modernity, education, and Islam in Turkey and abroad. The movement is a form of cultural Islam. Gülen emphasizes math and science, and promotes entrepreneurism and capitalism. The schools are funded by Turkish businessmen and foundations (vakif).
Long on friendly terms with Turkish authorities, the Gülen movement found itself in the crosshairs of then Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (who became Turkey’s president in 2014) following a December 2013 corruption investigation into members of Erdoğan’s government, which prompted widespread protests. The prime minister believed the investigation was being driven by the Gülen movement, whose members have held prominent positions in Turkey’s law enforcement bodies, the judiciary and the government. Erdoğan accused the movement of creating a “parallel state” within the Turkish government. The outcome was a silent war between Erdoğan, his AK Party, and Gülen.
Educational Alternative
In Tajikstan, Gülen schools, called dershanes, provided an educational alternative to the country’s poor and underfunded public schools. First opened in Tajikistan in 1992, the schools served as institutions to prepare students for competitive university entrance exams. Following Rahmon’s announcement, the seven schools will close in September and transferred to the government. They will be rebranded as schools for gifted children. The agreement between Tajikistan and the Salale Education Institution, which operates the schools (and denies an affiliation with Gülen), was to expire in 2015­­­­­­­­. The presidential decree “[overruled] a cabinet decision from 1994 allowing the schools to operate.”­­­­­
The schools in Tajikistan, founded by Gülen ally Kemal Emirez, always operated under Tajik legislation, not Turkish legislation, to avoid fears of indoctrination. The schools have been successful, but are viewed by Tajik authorities as a mechanism to indoctrinate students with the Turkish language and pan-Turkism ideals, while promoting radical ideals. The wider Gülen movement in Tajikistan does not exist, as it is not a typical political or opposition force. The movement is characterized by the ideas represented by the schools and the loyalty of Gülen’s followers.
Closure of the schools could be a response to the increase in Turkish influence in Tajik politics and signal a greater alignment with Ankara’s policies. There is extensive evidence to support this. For instance, in July 2015 Turkey arrested Tajik nationals attempting to cross into Syria through Turkey to join jihadists in Iraq and in Syria. Islamist extremism is a concern for Tajikistan, which fears instability after its five-year civil war. The rising number of Salafi Muslims in Tajikistan poses a security concern for the state, along with the return of Islamic State fighters from Central Asia. In December 2014, Turkey also detained Tajik opposition figure Umarali Quvvatov (who led the anti-Rahmon organization Gruppa 24) for a visa violation; he was released in February 2015. Quvvatov was fatally shot in Istanbul’s Fatih District on March 5, 2015. The detaining of Quvvatov by Turkey prior to his death was viewed as politically motivated, and a possible exchange for shutting down the Gülen schools.
Economically, Turkey has remained one of Tajikistan’s (and Central Asia’s) primary trading partners. Tajikistan has been encouraging Turkey to take advantage of its mining resources. The two countries share membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Organization for Islamic Cooperation.
The closure of the schools further restricts religious freedom in Tajikistan, as the schools are inspired by an imam and allegedly teach Islam as part of the curriculum. The government of Tajikistan realizes it cannot eliminate religion, but it wants to control it. Authorities have already closed unregistered mosques and madrassahs, banned children from attending mosques, harassed bearded men, and is now banning names that sound “too Arabic.” The repression is driven by fear of extreme Islam, although the crackdown itself could drive social unrest.
Another explanation for the closure of the schools is the fear that Gülen supporters (or any opposition group in Tajikistan) will attempt to create a parallel state and subvert the government. Paranoia, suspicion, and an obsession with regime security remain pervasive in Central Asia. Tajikistan is no exception – the preservation of power is a top priority for Rahmon. Any opposing force is a concern and the actions of the opposition are often exaggerated. Tajikistan’s budding partnership with Turkey is also a priority and to benefit, Dushanbe has to make concessions even if it comes at the expense of its people, development of civic society and education, and prospects for its next generation.
Regional Trend
In fact, Tajikistan’s decision to close the schools reflects a wider trend in the region. The Daily Sabah reported in mid-May 2015 that Kosovo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kazakhstan, Somalia, and Japan have all begun procedures to close Gülen-linked schools. In July 2014, Azerbaijan closed Gülen schools on fears of a parallel government. Erdoğan provided Azerbaijan’s government provided a list of Gülen members. In March 2014, SOCAR, the state-run energy company, “[took] over 11 Turkish-language high schools, 13 university-exam preparation centers and the private, Baku-based Caucasus University, all run by a Turkish educational company called Çağ Öğrətim (Era Education).” The political in Azerbaijan is febrile, with the government facing numerous protests. A predominantly Muslim country with cultural, ethnic, and historical links to Turkey, Azerbaijan backs Erdoğan’s efforts. Indeed, it is one of Turkey’s strongest allies in the region.
Uzbekistan shut down its Gülen schools in 1999, after relations with Ankara soured. (This was well before the falling out between the Gülen movement and the Turkish government.) The Uzbek government feared Islamic fundamentalism and worried that graduates would attempt to weaken the Uzbek state. At the height of the Gülen movement in Uzbekistan, more than 65 schools were in operation. In Turkmenistan, the majority of the Turkish-Turkmen schools, which are supported by the Turkish Islamic movement, Nurchilar, closed in 2011. The Gülen schools are viewed as suspicious because of Turkish dominance and it was observed that “the independent states of Central Asia have struggled to create their own identities, often finding themselves embroiled in patterns of identities and ideologies transcending national borders.” In Tajikistan, too, an unstable national identity could spawn conflict, which would explain why Tajikistan, a non-Turkic republic, would be wary of a Turkish presence in schools.
The schools, once seen as an instrument of soft power after the collapse of the Soviet Union, are now being closed to advance Erdoğan’s influence and Ankara’s policies in Central Asia. Erdoğan is exploiting the fear of instability, religious extremism, and violence to achieve his policy objectives. The existence of Gülen schools threaten the Turkish president’s power and ability to sustain influence. A prominent alternative to Erdogan’s policies would inhibit his ability to pursue his policies. Erdoğan considers the Gülen Movement – seen as extreme, secretive, and proselytizing – radical and a threat to Turkey’s reputation and global image. As the Turkish president tries to shore up his own increasingly fragile domestic political position and build influence in Tajikistan and Central Asia, that is a threat that he cannot tolerate.
Samantha Brletich is a contributor and Advisory Board Member at Modern Diplomacy. Her writing and research focuses on Russia and Central Asia, particularly economics, defense, regional relations, extremism and terrorism and social issues. Ms. Brletich possesses a Master’s Degree in Peace Operations Policy from George Mason University and is an employee of the U.S. Department of Defense. Opinions here are her own.