BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
The fourth in a series of demonstrations against the Gülen movement’s various manifestations in the U.S. took place on Sunday, July 28, from 5. to 6:30 p.m. in front of the Pacifica Institute in Westwood, just south of the UCLA campus.
Some twenty people, mostly Turks judging by the language spoken, held placards criticizing the Gülen movement’s establishment of 135 charter schools across the U.S. A very detailed leaflet was distributed to the few passersby. Many of the placards included a picture of Kemal Ataturk, and some people simply held a picture of him. This is a clear indication of the divide in Turkish society between the secularist/Ataturkists and Islamist/Gülenists.
One of the participants in the demonstration explained that it is the Gezi Park actions in Bolis that have motivated other Turks to come forth, since they no longer felt alone. Yet, in explaining the small number at the demonstration, she also conveyed that many people are still afraid to come forth because “these are powerful people,” referring to the Gülenists.
Another participant was also quite communicative with this reporter and attributed the low turnout to insufficient preparation. It became evident that he is one of the “reasonable” Genocide deniers, asserting that Armenians have spread many lies in the U.S. and these would henceforth be met by counter-information by Turks. His mindset was the “yes, Armenians died, but so did Moslems” one.
The previous three demonstrations were held in Oakland (at one of the Gülenist charter schools), at Gülen’s home/compound, and in New York, on the preceding two Saturdays.
Fethullah Gülen is a Turkish cleric who left Turkey for medical reasons (or fled, depending on who is describing it) in 1999. He lives in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania on a large property, and is reputed to be a multi-billionaire. Gülen is a prolific writer and orator. His followers, many of whom reside in the U.S. have been engaged in establishing charter schools across the U.S. where Turkish language and culture is heavily emphasized. Many of the teachers in those schools immigrate specifically to teach in those schools. The Anatolian Festival held periodically in Orange County is organized extensively by Gülen’s followers.
Various U.S. media, among them “60 Minutes”, have done exposés of this movement’s activities in the U.S., raising serious questions about the legalities of some of their doings.