The Turkish Olympics Final is an annual two-week long cultural festival bringing together non-Turkish international students from Gulenist schools in other nations to compete in a variety of performances throughout Turkey. The performances tend to have international school children singing in Turkish, dancing villager dances from Anatolia, reciting Turkish poetry and acting in Turkish plays. International school children can also perform in English or their own native languages but much of the Turkish media attention is given to the school children/performers that learn Turkish. Also important at the Turkish Olympics – while the majority of performers are international non-Turkish children – there is a space given for Turkish children who go to Gulenist schools outside of Turkey. The Turkish Islamist “Gulen Movement” sponsors and organizes the Turkish Olympics Final and also organizes smaller semi-final contests in which students from their international school network compete in home countries to represent each nation at the final. In Egypt, Gulenists have organized a semi-final Turkish Olympics festival at the largest Gulenist school in the country, Salahaldin International School in Cairo. The focus of my thesis is on the Gulenist educational/dormitory/business network in Egypt. The Egyptian Gulenist network is the focus of this study for two reasons. The first reason is utilitarian in nature. As a master’s student at the American University in Cairo, I spent several years in Egypt after I lived and worked with Gulenists in Istanbul. The second reason is geopolitical. Turkey and Egypt are seminal nations in the Middle East. The only other country with a similar population size as well as cultural and economic import would be Iran. As such research on the Gulenists’ actions and business/education network in Egypt – especially after the ouster of President Morsi and the rise of President El Sisi – is an important study which touches on issues of politics, economics, Islamism and education between Turkey and Egypt.


Middle East Studies Center

Degree Name

MA in Middle East Studies

Graduation Date


Submission Date

September 2016

First Advisor

Rizzo, Helen

Committee Member 1

Seikaly, Sherene

Committee Member 2

Holms, Amy Austin


165 p.

Document Type

Master's Thesis


The author retains all rights with regard to copyright. The author certifies that written permission from the owner(s) of third-party copyrighted matter included in the thesis, dissertation, paper, or record of study has been obtained. The author further certifies that IRB approval has been obtained for this thesis, or that IRB approval is not necessary for this thesis. Insofar as this thesis, dissertation, paper, or record of study is an educational record as defined in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 USC 1232g), the author has granted consent to disclosure of it to anyone who requests a copy.

Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Approval has been obtained for this item


I recognize God, the Essence which moved me and made it possible to complete this thesis. Also I recognize my mother, I owe everything to her. My father was constantly there for me and his guiding words helped calm me as I went through the production of this thesis and the completion of my master’s degree. My uncles Bryan Hobbs and Joe Orler – and the rest of my family – were also helpful in giving me much needed support. Deepest gratitude to Gloria Powers, my NOLA matriarch, who taught me how “to hear that long snake moan.” Finally, Ralph, Father Joe and Sharron were life guides who lit the way and helped focus me toward this track. My advisor Dr. Helen Rizzo deserves a special thanks in that she gave this work focus and form and her kindness and encouragement were fundamental in completion of the thesis. My first reader, Dr. Sherene Seikaly, inspired me to create and criticize my initial fieldwork and she pushed me to grow as a student in her classes and in the writing of this thesis. Dr. Amy Austin Holms, my second reader, thankfully came in at the last moment as a reader when my original second reader had to leave the project. Dr. Holms’ ideas on the crafting and organization of the two ethnographies in this thesis clarified the final message. I am grateful beyond measure to Dr. Rizzo, Dr. Seikaly and Dr. Holms. I also recognize the support, teaching and collegial connections of Dr. Naila Hamdy, Dr. Pascale Ghazaleh, Professor Scott MacLeod, Dr. Kim Fox, Dr. Sandrine Gamblin, Dr. Hanan Sabea, Dr. Malak Rouchdy, Sifu Joseph and Helen, Sifu Brian, Dean Robert Switzer, Director Angela “Betty” Speyrer, Dr. Emad El-Din Shahin, Bill Newman, Dr. Ronnie Close, Dr. Ebony Coletu, Assoc. Dean Ghada El Shimi, Dr. Nelly Hanna, Hanan Shahin as well as MESC’s dutiful and kind staff members Radwa Wassim and Hany Luke. All of you grew my mind and remain close to my heart. Thank you. Wael Wafa is more than just a friend. In the production of this thesis Wael became a brother and his words of support were invaluable. Other friends who gave shelter and ideas while I wrote and developed this thesis were Oğuzhan Mamaşlı, Ömer Yıldırmaz and Andrew Osman Young. And still other inspiring and helpful friends were Jon Hertzberg, Lisa Palumbo, Aaron Zeller, Sonja Moser, Sherif Fadl, Paul Williams, Metin Arıkan, Elvan Armakan, Kimberly Adams, Gökçen Savran, Keith Hampton, Bridget Burke, Aslı Karaca and Molly McGrath. Thank you all. In terms of fellow colleagues/classmates; I need to thank those who shared ideas which opened my mind. This list includes (apologies for those whose names I forget): Samantha Allen, Timothy Kennett, Brian Keckeisen, Maria Fernandez Vivancos Marquina, Hunter Watts, Owain Lawson, Ashley Fortner-Dominguez, Ellen Weis, Isaac Miller, Jade Lansing, Cally Walker, Dan Murphy, Shannon Callahan and Dan Woodward. To all of you; thank you for the chance to learn with you. We may have stumbled along the way but what a blessed horizon awaits us now; in the sunshine. The world will never be the same again.