A proposed charter school to be based in Bangor is tied into an informal worldwide network of religious, cultural and education institutions operated by followers of a controversial and reclusive Turkish imam, Fethullah Gulen.The Queen City Academy Charter School was one of four proposed taxpayer-financed charter schools whose applications were denied last month by the state charter school commission, but the school intends to reapply at a future date...
"They claim that these charter schools are independent and have no connection to the Gulen movement, and I said to them: 'That's baloney,' " said William Martin, senior fellow in religion and public policy at Baker Institute of Rice University in Texas, where Gulen followers have set up dozens of charter schools.Martin has followed the movement for years, traveled to Turkey at their expense, and counts its leaders there as friends. "I say to them: 'Look, there's nothing wrong with your saying that you are admirers and followers of Mr. Gulen, and to say this is what he stands for and this is what you stand for,' but they say that their lawyers have said they shouldn't be open about it."...The central figure behind the proposed Bangor charter school, construction company owner Murat Kilic of Revere, Mass., deflects questions about ties to Gulen as unimportant."Individuals might be inspired by him, but what their background is and what they are inspired by, I think that's a little bit irrelevant," said Kilic, who helped found several Gulen-linked organizations in the Bay State. "Yes, I have read a few books of Mr. Gulen and met with him two times, but I have also met (former President) Clinton...”...Over the past year, Gulen's followers have been active in Maine on several fronts. A key organization in the Gulen network -- the New York-based Council of Turkic American Associations -- organized a subsidized nine-day trip to Turkey for three state legislators last summer and persuaded Gov. Paul LePage to issue an executive order declaring April 3, 2012, to be the first annual Turkish Cultural Day in Maine...The real motivation of the Gulen movement -- charter schools and all -- is to accumulate political and financial resources to further the transformation of Turkey itself, according to Joshua Hendrick, assistant professor of sociology and global studies at Loyola University in Maryland and perhaps the leading U.S. scholar of Gulen. He noted the ongoing ascent of a center-right in that country, which is "pro-capitalist, democratic, socially conservative and believes a revival of faith is good for national development.""It's unfortunate that we have this rise of Islamophobia because it takes people's eyes off the ball for a legitimate critique that has to do with teachers' concerns about suspect hiring practices or school boards' concerns about suspect financial dealings and governance issues," Hendrick said. "The real questions are: 'Where do you buy your desks and chairs? Who supplies your books? How are people hired and promoted?' ... It has nothing to do with stealth jihad."..."If they can maintain ambiguity and leave people never really able to pinpoint who is what, it allows them flexibility to adapt and adjust to local conditions," Hendrick said. This evasiveness served Gulenists well during the 1970s and 1980s in Turkey, he said, where they were among the many targets of the country's surveillance apparatus. "The organizational strategies of the movement are the product of an environment where secrecy and non-transparency are not only perfectly rational and understandable but a neccessity." [sic]Kilic said they planned to resubmit their application...Hendrick said the movement first got involved in education by opening private schools abroad and has gotten into trouble by applying the same hiring and contracting policies it used in its private operations to charter schools, where taxpayer funding brings increased public scrutiny. For instance, the practice of recruiting teachers from Turkey has drawn fire because the average H1-B visa costs between $600 and $1,500 to sponsor, a difficult expense to justify to taxpayers...
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Queen City Academy Charter School (attempt)
“Proposed Bangor charter school linked to Turkish imam.” Portland Press Herald (ME), 2/17/2013