Americans may not realize it yet, but Turkey's regression from a secular democracy into an Islamic state may be based on an educational movement that has also taken root in America. Imam Fethullah Gülen and his Gülen Movement (GM) have had enormous influence in setting the increasingly Islamist agenda of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Much of this is due to GM's vast empire of media entities, financial institutions, banks and business organizations. But the most critical component of this empire is educational institutions. In Turkey, 75 percent of the nation's two million preparatory school students are enrolled in Gülen institutions. In America, GM runs the largest charter school network in the nation. Such an empire is slowly receiving the kind of scrutiny–and pushback from concerned Americans–that it deserves.
The principals and school board members of GM charter schools are primarily Turkish men. Hundreds of Turkish teachers have been admitted to the United States using H-1B visas, because the schools claim qualified Americans cannot be found. Moreover, an examination of federal tax forms and school documents reveals that GM charter schools tend to purchase a substantial portion of their goods and services from Gülenist businesses.