Legal threats: a Gulenist intimidation tactic
A number of individuals who have publicly stated that Gulen charter schools are connected to Fethullah Gulen and the Gulen Movement, or who have questioned Gulen school practices, have been threatened with lawsuits. Generally these involve allegations of "defamation" that would be highly unlikely to hold up in a court of law. However, the Gulenists know they can nevertheless attempt to employ them as an intimidation tactic. These threats are not always successful, but their effectiveness some percentage of the time has sufficed to land them their place in the Gulenist arsenal.
The use of legal threats is not confined to the United States. This is evident from the following excerpt from an article on private Gulen schools in Germany, which appeared in Die Zeit, one of Germany's most widely-read newspapers, on Feb 25, 2010 (English version given here):
"Previously, the schools have denied any connection to the Gulen movement, and threatened anyone who claimed otherwise with lawsuits. In Turkey, where for many years only the official state Islam was allowed, Gulen's followers learned to keep a low profile. In Germany, they fear reservations against everything Muslim, and to date have also been covering up their religious background. However, that has only, if anything, further fomented the suspicions against them."
Here is an example of a Gulenist threat letter from a board member of the Young Scholars of Central Pennsylvania charter school. It can be found in the Parent Advisory Council meeting minutes of Sep 17, 2009 which are posted on the school's website.
Another example is given by the response of Principal Fatih Karatas of the Sonoran Science Academy in Arizona to parents' concerns, as reported in the newspaper Tucson Weekly on December 31, 2009:
"I'm hoping that they know that these are defamatory allegations which may put them in trouble later on. These are excelling schools. ... I hope they are aware of what they're doing."