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Turkey and the Islamic Identity. Birol A. Ye şilada Mark O. Hatfield School of Government Portland State University March 2004. THE REPUBLIC.

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Turkey and the islamic identity

Turkey and the Islamic Identity

Birol A. Yeşilada

Mark O. Hatfield School of Government

Portland State University

March 2004

The republic

  • Turkish republic established in 1923 by M. Kemal Ataturk after the War of Independence that followed WW I. The Treaty of Lausanne (July 1923) signed between the Ankara government and the Allies.

  • Since 1946, it has a multi-party representative democracy that has experienced two military coups and two military interventions. It has a parliamentary system of government.

  • Turkey is a member of the Council of Europe and all other European intergovernmental organizations, associate member of the European Union (and a candidate for accession), NATO, and the UN.

  • Turkey has 65 million citizens of mixed ethnic background reflecting the heterogeneous makeup of the Ottoman Empire. Identity issues continue to be a major topic among Turkish citizens.

Background cont
Background (cont.)

  • Reforms of Ataturk include:

  • Abolished Sultanate (1922)

  • Abolished Caliphate (1924)

  • Secular education (1924)

  • Language (1927-35)

  • Dress (1925)

  • Civil code (1924-26)

  • Alphabet (1925)

  • Significance of laicism

  • Significance of etatism and republicanism

Islamic identity in turkey
Islamic Identity in Turkey

  • One must distinguish between religiosity and fundamentalism.

  • Most Turks belong to the Hanefi school of Sunni Islam. There is a large presence of Alevi Turks who are close to Shi’a Islam.

  • Other minorities include Arabs and Kurds (mostly Sunni Muslims), Christians (Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks), and Jews.

Islam in turkish life
Islam in Turkish Life

  • Most Turks follow some form of “institutionalized” Islam ranging from daily mosque attendance to attending the Friday prayers to observing prayers during religious holidays.

  • There are those who do not follow formal religious practices and consider themselves strict laicists.

Islam in turkey
Islam in Turkey

  • Turks have always interpreted Islam in their own way:

    • Mixing their Asian cultural norms with those peoples’ they ruled during the Ottoman Empire.

    • Religious tolerance was at the heart of Ottoman rule. This resulted in the Millet (Nation) system of administration.

    • Strict & conservative interpretation of Islam emerged during the 19th century as pan-Islamism became a political force aimed at redefining the Empire in the face of Balkan uprisings.

    • Quickly, this movement split into pan-Islamist and pan-Turkic political ideologies.

Islam in turkish life1
Islam in Turkish life

  • Religious orders, known as tarikat, provide organizational networks for followers of different congregations.

  • While most of these are sufi orders, some are quite active in political life and aspire to change the constitutional order of Turkey.

  • The goal s to replace the laicist system with an Islamic state.

People s attitudes
People’s attitudes

  • Most Turks (~80 percent) state that they would like to have more adherence to Islamic norms in their daily lives.

  • 20 percent state that they would like to see Islam be a source of law in State affairs.

  • Only 3 – 5 percent,however, state that they want Sharia (Islamic Cannon Law) be the law of the land.

  • Even among the supporters of the religious parties, AKP and SP, 61 and 45 percent respectively reject Sharia law.

Recent opinion poll on headscarf
Recent opinion poll on headscarf

  • More than 80 percent of the people believe that the headscarf issue is over played by the State. Asked where it should be permitted to be worn:

    • 95 percent approved it during shopping, etc

    • 90 percent while receiving medical assistance in the hospitals

    • 90 percent in public offices

    • 81 percent while in court

    • 80 percent during visits to the Parliament

    • 71 percent as university students

    • 70 percent when providing medical assistance in hospitals

    • 68 percent for civil servants

    • 67 percent for university faculty and staff

    • 65 percent for judges

    • 64 percent for the members of the Parliament

Rise of islamist groups
Rise of Islamist Groups

  • Since the establishment of the Republic, the laicist order of the new state has been challenged by a variety of religious orders and political forces.

  • Turkish-Islamic Synthesis v. Islamic-Turkish Synthesis.

  • 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and now.

The rise of political islam
The rise of Political Islam

  • The Islamic Democracy Party (İslam Demokrasi Partisi--IDP) was the first Islamist political party to enter into politics during the multi-party period in 1951.

  • It is true that the center-right Democratic Party (Demokrat Parti—DP) under Celal Bayar and Adnan Menderes attracted the support of the Islamist voters with policy decisions that reversed some of the Kemalists’ bans on Islamic practices like the call for prayer in Turkish and the ban on Koran schools.

  • In the ensuing years, those who played important roles in the establishment of other religious political parties made use of similar phrases of religious importance:

    • During the 1960s, the Justice Party (Adalet Partisi-AP) came to represent the "home" of the democratic Islamists in Turkey.

    • Sheikh Mehmet Zahit Kotku who was a leading figure of the Nakşibendi order (tarikat) and head of the related İskender Paşa congregation (dergah).

    • At Kotku’s encouragement, Necmettin Erbakan entered political life.

    • He became the founding chairman of Milli Nizam partisi, Milli Selamet partisi, Refah Partisi, Fazilet partisi, and was the main figure behind the Selamet Partisi.

    • He also established the Milli Gorus (National Vision) organization.

  • The informal party organization was extensive; it relied on a tightly controlled network of activists and volunteers:

    • The party maintained a divan (council) in every district, comprised of 50 regular and 50 alternate members.

    • In addition, there were neighborhood representatives who maintained an information database on everyone living in that area, including each family unit.

    • There was also a network of headmasters and teachers (hatipler ve öğretmenler), who engaged people in discussion at the local coffee houses and other gathering places.

    • Another informal network came from the Koran courses and the Preacher and Prayer Leader Schools (İmam Hatip Okulları).

    • Finally, these parties drew strong support from some of the religious orders.

Relations between tarikats and islamist political parties
Relations Between Tarikats and Islamist Political Parties a tightly controlled network of activists and volunteers:

  • Traditionally, tarikats, which Atatürk shut down and were later reopened when the Democratic Party was in government, supported the center- right parties, seeing them as security against the secular state.

  • Among these tarikats, the Nakşibendi order is one of the most influential and well organized; its ties to the RP/FP dates back to late1960s.

  • In present day Turkey, the Nakşibendi members involve themselves in the activities of Dergah (congregations).

  • Among these the Iskenderpaşa dergah has been one of the most politically motivated.

The current akp cabinet and its significance
The current AKP Cabinet and its Significance a tightly controlled network of activists and volunteers:

  • The cabinet includes followers of the Iskenderpaşa dergah (congregation) of the Nakshibendi tarikat (a mixture of students from the Kotku and Erbakan teachings), Nurcu, and Fethullah Gülen.

  • The key to this coalition is Korkut Özal’s Birlik Wakf. It enabled the tarikats to get together again. The original coalition of the Nurcu and Iskenderpaşa dergah that gave rise to Erbakan’s first political party, the Milli Nizam Partisi (National Order Party), collapsed soon after the creation of the party.

Refah fazilet akp
Refah-Fazilet-AKP a tightly controlled network of activists and volunteers:

Religion and politics
Religion And Politics a tightly controlled network of activists and volunteers:

Seem to be two distinct Preferences

  • Religious and Moral Politicians

  • Absence of direct interference in Political life by religious leaders

Religion and politics1
Religion and Politics a tightly controlled network of activists and volunteers:

Religion and politics2
Religion and Politics a tightly controlled network of activists and volunteers:

Conclusions a tightly controlled network of activists and volunteers:

  • Turkish populations has changed dramatically since the early days of the Republic.

  • There is more tolerance of Islam in personal life and its inclusion in State affairs.

  • Secular forces, the Kemalist elite and the military, oppose any change to the laicist system and represents an uncompromising position.

  • The military identifies irtica (religious reactionary movement) as the number one domestic threat to national security.

  • The military is cautious about the AKP.

  • In addition to nonmilitant Islam, radical fundamentalist groups have emerged to challenge the system.