According to North Dakota Representative Corey Mock, the bus trip was a little like an amusement park roller coaster complete with sticks, mallets, rocks – and of course threatening protesters. The protesters attacked the bus, rocking it while trying to pry open the windows. I suspect that this wet your pants change in the itinerary might have given the politicians time to pause about their decision to sign up for a trip on the Gulen express.
One politician on the bus, Rep. Corey Mock (D-Grand Forks), was quoted as saying, “As the bus pulled away, there was nothing but disbelief.” I get the “disbelief” component – but on my end its disbelief on how incredibly naïve and shameful these political parasites are. Instead of merely planting their butts on a bus tour sponsored by Gulen, they might done a bit of pre-trip research on Gulen’s cult, its insidious movement, and how their tourist trip plays perfectly into Gulen’s master plan to further corrupt the American government by proxy of its campaign contributions and “free trips to Turkey.”
The bus rock and rollers on the trip were Rep. Corey Mock (D-Grand Forks), Rep. Ben Hanson (D-West Fargo), Rep. Lawrence Klemin (R-Bismarck), Rep. Lois Delmore (D-Grand Forks), Sen. Phil Murphy (D-Portland), Sen. Ray Holmberg (R-Grand Forks), and Sen. David O’Connell (D-Lansford). That’s an awful lot of state politicians on a bus tour in Turkey -- politicians who should have instead been in their offices in North Dakota doing the jobs that their constituents were paying them to do. I wonder how thrilled the taxpayers in North Dakota would be if they knew that the politicians that they voted for were too busy indulging in Gulen-related propaganda in Turkey to actually perform their North Dakota legislative duties.
It get’s more than tiresome to hear about how American politicians have this deep-rooted desire to establish “friendly” relations with Turkey by means of free trips, sponsored by Gulen’s cronies. I wonder why they feel the need to visit Turkey -- why not take a few trips to Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, or North Korea --- where there just might be a more compelling case for “friendship?” While these guys and gals are stuffing their faces with free baklava in Turkey, there are certainly more relevant and exponential world issues that more directly affect their constituents at home – like American soldiers coming home from the Middle East missing both limbs and livelihoods.
Call me old fashioned, but I am of the mind that you take care of your own before you spread your resources and goodwill to causes (and in this specific case, the Gulenists), that are only out to exploit and manipulate the United States’ taxpayers. How many rocking buses pelted with sticks and stones do the American politicians needs to experience before the finally figure out that they are being played like a keman, and that the Gulenists are the ones fine-tuning the politicians' strings.
Below are a couple of stories about the North Dakota legislators’ trip to Turkey:
North Dakota Legislative Trip Paid For By Controversial Islamic Group
Jun 24, 2013
I recently wrote a post about a trip to Turkey taken by a number of North Dakota legislators paid for by a group called the Turkish American Federation of the Midwest. In speaking with some legislators who didn’t take they trip, they told me that it was organized through what some described as an odd email that many thought was a scam. I decided to dig into the matter a little further, and I found some disturbing facts.
The TAFM, it turns out, is a front group for the Gülen movement, a “transnational religious and social movement led by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen.” It’s an Islamic network and has gained some praise as being a more moderate alternative to other global Muslim groups, but has also been criticized for encouraging members to turn away from society to practice a fundamentalist sort of Islam.
In fact, the group has been described as a cult in leaked US diplomatic cables: “When we asked Valeria Heuberger, an Austrian expert on Islam, if the Gulenists have a hidden agenda, she replied, ‘Yes, they do have a hidden agenda, but I don’t think it is a radical agenda. Their agenda is simply to further the ego of their leader, the same as any cult.’”
It has also been criticized for its attitudes toward women, enforcing gender segregation within the group and with many of its members wearing clothing that doesn’t not expose any part of a woman’s arms or legs.
The group is “feared” in Turkey, according to some. “You know we have confronted real fear about this movement, particularly when we’ve tried to get critics to give us an interview,” CBS News’ Leslie Stahl asked America reporter Andrew Finkel, who has been working in Turkey for 25 years, in a 2012 interview about the movement’s charter schools in the US. “What are they afraid of?”
“There’s a fear of reprisal,” he answered. “I mean, it is the case that two or three people who’ve written books highly critical of the Gulen movement are now in jail.”
Finkel also described the Gülen movement as a “cult of personality.”
The group’s founder, Fethullah Gülen, currently lives in the United States rather than Turkey because “if he were to come back, then there would be such a brouhaha,” according to Finkel, “because it seems his followers have taken over key positions in the Turkish government and the police.”
Here in the United States, Gülen has been very active in setting up networks of groups to support his movement:
The 2008 RAND report explained that a “web of organizations propagates Gulen’s vision of Islam.” This web is an enormous and expanding global network which includes over 300 organizations in the United States. It takes an informed eye to detect their connection to the Gulen movement. Gulen’s followers began to establish their organizations in the US around the time Fethullah Gulen arrived in Pennsylvania. Now fourteen years later, approximately 180 Gulenist Turkish cultural, interfaith dialogue, and business organizations are operating in nearly every state and 135 charter schools are operating in 26 states
One of the groups established was the TAFM, which paid the way for the North Dakota legislators who visited Turkey. Which has me wondering, how many of those legislators knew who was really backing their trip? Were they aware of their sponsor;s connections to the controversial Gülen movement? To be fair, the Gülenists are also praised by many for being a relatively moderate Islamic group which does a lot to promote education.
But the group also faces serious accusations about attempts to undermine secular government in Turkey, and using some very thuggish tactics to do it.
Did these legislators even care about who was paying their way to Turkey, or did they just jump at the opportunity for a free trip regardless of who paid for it? And what is the Gülen movement’s interest in flying a bunch of North Dakota legislators to Turkey, anyway?
I don’t think we can accuse any of these legislators of being a part of some plot by a shadowy Islamic group. A simpler explanation is that they were merely dupes. At best, these legislators who accepted the invitation for this trip exercised some poor judgment. At worst, they were used by a not-so-democratic, cult-like group to help bolster their image and reputation as they seek to cement political control in Turkey.
The legislators who went on the trip were Rep. Corey Mock (D-Grand Forks), Rep. Ben Hanson (D-West Fargo), Rep. Lawrence Klemin (R-Bismarck), Rep. Lois Delmore (D-Grand Forks), Sen. Phil Murphy (D-Portland), Sen. Ray Holmberg (R-Grand Forks), and Sen. David O’Connell (D-Lansford).
Perhaps they owe North Dakota voters an explanation for just what they were doing in Turkey.
Tags: ben hanson, corey mock, david o'connell, Fethullah Gülen, gulen movement, lawrence klemin, lois delmore, North Dakota News, phil murphy, ray holmberg, Turkish American Federation of the Midwest
Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.
Email Rob • @robport
http://www.kvrr.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=20815&Itemid=57 ND Legislators Experience Protests In Turkey by Lezlie Johnson, Reporter
June 13, 2013
A goodwill trip turned into something more than a group of North Dakota legislators bargained for,
landing smack dab in the middle of a massive anti–government protest in Turkey.
Officers fire water cannons and tear gas into a crowd of demonstrators.
Over a 3–day period of an increasingly raging protest, 7 North Dakota lawmakers experienced some of the violence first–hand, starting in Istanbul.
"As we turned the corner we had seen water cannons pushing people out of the park, people were being sprayed before our very eyes," Representative Corey Mock said.
As the protest progressed, Mock took photos and video of his experience.
Although the protest started out peaceful, when the group traveled to Izmir, their trip, which was aimed to develop deeper relationships between countries, now became increasingly stressful.
"When our bus had pulled into the intersection and we had seen over 1–thousand people waving flags,
chanting, protesting, swarming vehicles, that's when the anxiety went to a new level," Mock said.
As protesters took over the bus in front of the group, they realized just how serious this could get, especially once protesters started moving towards their own bus.
"There were some who were a little more aggressive in their actions, the bus was rocked, hit, they had mallets and sticks.
So there was a lot of unique reaction from the protesters geared toward traffic on the streets," Mock said.
Mock says although the protesters were not anti–American, there were moments of uncertainty as they tried to flip the bus.
"There were some gasps. Startling reactions especially as the bus rocked from side to side,
people were trying to climb into the bus, pry open the windows, so that whole feeling of everyone crowding in towards the middle,
it happened pretty quickly" Mock said.
No one was hurt, and the whole experience lasted about one minute because of the bus driver's quick reaction.
As the bus pulled away, there was nothing but disbelief.
"A lot of looks around the bus of astonishment, like wow did that just happen and wondering,
I wonder what's happening to the people behind us and then I hope this isn't going to happen again," Mock said.
Now Mock holds a flag he brought back from Turkey just like the ones protesters were waving,
and says it will be an everyday reminder of what the group experienced overseas.