Monday, August 25, 2014 - 5:28pm

Harmony Schools Accused of Being Linked to Muslim Movement


POSTED: Thursday, December 8, 2011 - 11:09am

UPDATED: Thursday, June 5, 2014 - 10:49pm

EL PASO- The Harmony Schools in Texas have been accused of indoctrinating Muslim religious beliefs in their curriculum.

The Harmony Schools are charter schools in Texas that focus on math and science. There are two in the El Paso area which have been attracting attention for their success rates with the students.

The Cosmos Foundation is the parent organization to the Harmony Schools. It is a charter school operator founded a decade by a group of professors and businessmen from Turkey. Cosmos has moved quickly to become the largest charter school operator in Texas, with 33 schools receiving more than $100 million a year in taxpayer funds.There are about 120 schools across the country that teach over 20,000 students.

 In the last few years, the schools have been garnering negative attention for their supposed link to the Gulen Movement, a Muslim following. Many of the staff and some of the founders of the schools are from Turkey and happen to be followers of Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish preacher of a moderate brand of Islam.

The Superintendent of the schools and one of the Co-founders, Soner Tarim, is a Turkish-American and came to the United States in the early 90's to study at Texas A&M. He says the schools do not reach any form of religion to their students. " Because I'm the head of the school people should not look at me and label the school...all of our teachers and parents know that we do not teach religion obviously, this is a public school."

Allene Helmick, a parent at Harmony Science Academy in El Paso, has been sending her son there for three years. She says she's completely satisfied with the school, but did do her research beforehand amidst the negative media attention."I am Christian and I would never send my child to a Muslim indoctrinated school because of course it's opposite of my belief," she said.

A recent graduate from Harmony Science Academy said the school prepared him for success. "The school prepared me well enough that I was able to go out there and apply for anything that I wanted because of the experience I got here," said Israel Castro. He is now a freshman at UTEP paid for by a full academic scholarship.

Not everyone in the school system is happy with Harmony. Donna Garner, a former teacher in Texas, has been studying these schools for years. She says the schools are a front for an Islamic movement. "They have brought in all these teachers from Turkey, how are they going to teach students about being a good solid American patriot, to learn about the U.S. Constitution, to honor our forefathers, to study the declaration of independence."

Tarim refutes this and says that some of the teachers are international, but 85% are hired locally.

Garner also recalled a situation at a Harmony School performance in Texas, when students stomped on an American Flag. Whether this is true or not, Harmony Schools insist that they do not teach any Anti-American beliefs.

Tarim say "We believe that math and science prepare our students for college for life so that they can be successful."

Comments News Comments

I loled.


Stop the discrimination
Representatives of our website have been in contact with a law firm that is interested in possibly representing current and former teachers and employees of any and all of the United States’ “Gulen-inspired” charter schools in a class-action lawsuit.

I think it is also important for the public to know that Sonar Tarim is dead beat. One of his tactics for expanding his Gulen Charter School agenda is to use and bankrupt local contractors. He is currently in a lawsuit for almost 1/2 million dollars for not paying his bills.

A common business tactic to ensure no outsiders will ever again bid on his jobs. To ensure the continued use of his Turkish business partners.

I do not believe that this collection of schools does anything other than what it is supposed to do. Yes, some of the teachers are international teachers, but how many Mexican-American teachers are employed in the local schools? Are we to believe that because someone comes from another country they will teach love for that country instead of the USA? I do not believe it! Teachers teach children, not subversion. This seems to be merely an outrageous attempt to smear a good name.

Irresponsible article. The accusation comes from one person and there is no mention of any actual proof. Why would you give her the space to air her baseless accusations and paranoid propaganda? If you do a simple search of Donna Garner you'll find she is looney (http://tfninsider.org/category/donna-garner/) But she is an ex-teacher so she must be an expert, right? KTSM should stick to weather, sports and AP stories until you can get real journalists who can at least Google their sources.

Soner Tarim (Dr. Tarim) is a liar. He sits on the board of the Gulen Institute in Houston and admitted to the Texas Monthly that the teachings of exiled Islamic Imam Fethullah Gulen have greatly influenced him.

These schools and their layers of Gulen Foundations launder American Tax money intended for Education into Turquoise Council and Raindrop Turkish House to pay for Interfaith dinners (which amount to no more than a presentation on F. Gulen) and these ridiculous Turkish Olympiads.

You are a liar dme. Dr.Tarim does not sit on the board of the Gulen Institute, you can not prove it, because you are a liar.

Your issue is what? That he could be Muslim? Isn't this still the land of the free, where the constitution gives us the freedom of religion. Just because he has a personal view on his faith doesn't mean he brings it to work with him. Most of us practice our faith in church...that's what Sundays are for! Stop trying to link being muslim to being an extremist! Get educated!

I do not think this school teaches religion. My daughter has been attending this school since 2008 and she never mentioned anything about this. I am extremely happy with the school.

True story is that parents are happy, students are happy and they know that they are getting good education here at Harmony. Go Tigers!

It is interesting that on the one hand the parents and students are satisfied with the school, on the other hand Donna Garner's susceptible and unproven views mentioned.

Which one do I need to believe?

Of course to the Harmony grad who goes to college this year and the parent who is satisfied with the school.

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