A secretive foreign network of Islamic radicals now operates dozens of charter schools — which receive government money but are not required to adopt a state-approved curriculum — on U.S. soil. The inspirer of this conspiratorial effort is Fethullah Gülen, who directs a major Islamist movement in Turkey and the Turkish diaspora, but lives in the United States. He is number 13 among the world’s “50 most influential Muslims” according to one prominent listing.
Gülen has been criticized as the puppet master for the current Turkish government headed by the “soft Islamist” Justice and Development Party, known by its Turkish initials as the AKP, in its slow-motion showdown with the secularist Turkish military. But Gülen is also known in Muslim countries for his network of 500-700 Islamic schools around the world, according to differing sources favorable to his movement. A more critical view of Gülen’s emphasis on education asserts that his international network of thousands of primary and secondary schools, universities, and student residences is a key element in solidifying an Islamist political agenda in Turkey.
But in startling news for Americans, the Gülen movement operates more than 85 primary and secondary schools on our soil. A roster of the Gülen schools and of the numerous foundations that support them has been released to the public by the patriotic group Act! for America. The Gülen schools are often designated as “science academies” and are concentrated in Texas, Ohio, and California — with others scattered across the rest of the country.
Two states that host Gülen charter schools are Arizona and Utah. In the former, the Daisy Education Corporation (the Gülen movement loves friendly sounding institutional names) operates three schools in Tucson: one serving kindergarten through the eighth grade, another designated as an elementary school, and a middle-high school, all under the rubric of the Sonoran Science Academy. In Phoenix it runs a satellite kindergarten-to-10th-grade campus with the same name.