Public Perceptions of radical Islam

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Public Perceptions of radical Islam

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PUBLIC PERCEPTIONS OF RADICAL ISLAM: DEMOCRATIC CONSOLIDATION VS SECULAR FUNDAMENTALISM By Metin Toprak, Nasuh Uslu and Murat Yilmaz* INTRODUCTION In Turkey, traditionally and historically, religion has been part of nationalism. Islamists have used a nationalist language and presented their movement as a nationalist one stressing the greatness of the Turkish nation. On the other hand, leftists and seculars have considered themselves as the real representatives of Turkish nationalism and have perceived the rise of religious nationalism as a serious threat for the secular regime of the state. The founders and traditional elite of the Turkish Republic used religion for the establishment of their regime, but they chose later to try to exclude religion from the social and cultural life of the society in addition to the state apparatus, thus giving the rightist parties the chance to use religion for their political ends. Whether the ruling party (AKP), whose leaders have Islamic origins, resorts to religious nationalism (stipulating the establishment of a community exclusively on the basis of religious beliefs and values) or represents the transformation of Islamist radicals into democrat and secular compromisers is the current problem concerning the future of Turkish democracy and Turkey's place in the West. This article explains the secularist perception of the threat of Islamization and theocratic state, tries to understand the underlying motives of attitudes and activities of Islamists, and then focuses on the public's perception of the existence of threats related to religion by using the survey data. According to the findings of the fieldwork conducted by Pollmark Research under the guidance of the authors in October 2007, on a sample representing the whole of Turkey, most Turkish citizens do not see possibility of radical Islamist and theocratic as a serious threat in Turkey. However almost one-third of the people still have certain fears related to radical Islam. The ruling party (AKP) has succeeded in persuading Turkish society that its rule is not a threat to secularism in Turkey, but an important part of society has still reservations about real intentions of the AKP leaders. ____________________________ *Metin Toprak, Ph.D. teaches at Eskisehir Osmangazi University, Turkey, [email protected]; Nasuh Uslu Ph.D., is a faculty member at Kirikkale University, Turkey, [email protected]; and Murat Yilmaz, Ph.D., is affiliated with the Association for Liberal Thinking, Turkey, [email protected] Journal of Third World Studies, Vol. XXVIII, No. 1 © 2011 by Association of Third World Studies, Inc. 203



A Brief Historical Background of Turkish Leftist and Rightist Political Trends

Turkey has a long history of modernization that dates back to the 18th century Ottoman era. Founders of the Republican regime also perceived modernization and Westernization interchangeably. However, democratization had been considered as a negligible dimension of modernization and Westernization. They always thought that Turkey needed time to take further steps in order to reach representative democracy. In their eyes, democracy was not a necessary element of the Republic. Ethnic and religious nationalism, xenophobia and suspicion against group rights have been indispensable components of the Turkish modernization. Turkey has been experiencing a multi party democracy since the first free elections in 1950. Nevertheless, Turkey has failed to institutionalize democracy and to reach a consensus base. The fundamentals of the modern Turkey, say nationalism and religion, are also the biggest threats to the unity and continuity of the state. Fascism and fundamentalism are the officially declared enemies of the state. Turkey constitutes a special example as non-Arab Muslim country for the relationship between nationalism and religion and it is unique in terms of witnessing a special struggle between these two phenomenons.1 In Turkey, traditionally and historically, religion has a special relationship with nationalism. There is a correlation between rise of nationalism and religiosity. Even Islamists2 have used a nationalist language and presented their movement as a nationalist one stressing the greatness of the Turkish nation. On the other hand, leftists and seculars have considered themselves as the real representatives of Turkish nationalism and have perceived the rise of religious nationalism3 as a serious threat for the secular regime of the state. The secular-minded founders of the Turkish Republic cooperated with the religious leaders defending the continuity of the Caliphate and even themselves addressed religious feelings of people during the war of independence. However, the early years of the Republic, which were marked with anti-religious reforms, intended to establish a secular nation-state. Thus, these policies put heavy pressures on religious people. Through these pressures, the new regime tried to distance the nation and the state from its Ottoman past (its regime and values).4 The priority for the new rulers was to create a new nation based on secular principles. Firstly, they tried to reduce the size of the Turkish territory to serve the homogenization of population and easy defence of this territory. Ataturk, in this sense, reinterpreted Wilson’s ethnic definition of the nation: “I defended boundaries which Turkish bayonets had already defended and laid down. Poor Wilson, he did not understand that lines that cannot be defended by the bayonet, by force, by honor and dignity, cannot be defended by any other principle.”5 On the other hand, Ataturk had to devise 204

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a formulation of nation, which would provide necessary forces to implement his pragmatic project. If he had used Islam for nation-building, he could have not differentiated his nation from other Muslims and he could have activated the forces hostile to secularism. With this thinking, Atatürk tried to reduce the political importance of Islam by negating it and by banning it from public and political realms. He abolished the caliphate; closed down religious tariqats (lodges), medrasas (religious schools) and religious tombs; changed the language of call for prayer from Arabic to Turkish; replaced the Hijri Muslim calendar with the Gregorian calendar; made Sunday rather than Friday the weekly day of rest; mandated wearing of a top-hat instead of the religiously symbolic fez; and implemented language reforms making compulsory the use of the Roman script in place of the Arabic script and eradicating ArabicPersian words in spoken and written Turkish.6 However, it should be pointed out that Kemalism has tried to control religion rather than totally negating it. It has tried to ensure that the presence of religion in Turkish public life and the demonstration of religion in different ways is a creature of the state. For example, the Alevite traditions and the BektaÕi culture have been tolerated since they have been seen as forces preserving Turkish language and culture from demise and stressing equal status of women in the society7 and exclusion of religion from the state rule. The Founders of the modern Turkey had mostly military backgrounds and there were only few civil bureaucrats. Civilian and military bureaucracies had very different views and orientations. Authoritarian elements of modern Turkey had been inspired from these factors. According to Mete Tunçay, while Ottoman administration was characterized as an authoritarian structure, the early administrative practices of modern Turkey resembled a totalitarian system. The period of 1922-46 has been evaluated in terms of leftist fascism or authoritarian modernism.8 The banning of even religious symbols and institutions that were respected by almost all the citizens backfired and the Democrat Party won 1950 free elections. DP had benefited from the widespread hostility against the single-party regime and simple acts of demonstrating respect for religious values of people were helpful in the success of DP. The military coup of 1960 was launched against the rightist ruling party. The coup, which was supported by leftist and secular groups, had deepened the rift between religiousnationalist and secular-leftist segments of the society. The adoption of the ‘left of the centre’ policy by the Republican People Party (CHP) and pro-Soviet and pro-communist activities of the extreme leftists led to the rise of ultranationalist and religious parties in the 1970s. According to secular and leftist people, the main aim of the military coup of 1980 and its regime was to establish an order based on nationalism and 205


religion (the famous Turkish-Islam synthesis claim). Allegedly, starting in 1982, ‘the state Islam’ was propagated through education and it formed the basis of the National Culture Report (1983) of the State Planning Bureau. Lessons in religion and ethics were made compulsory in state schools and state media organs were used to propagate the new state Islam. The Directorate of Religious Affairs was strengthened in terms of material resources and duties. Its tasks, reflecting close relationship between religion and nationalism, were constitutionally fixed.9 However, all political parties had been dissolved and followers of all political movements had been subjected to heavy suppression after the 1980 coup. Prime Minister Turgut Özal’s MP candidacy application had been rejected by the religious oriented National Order Party (MNP) in the 1970s. Özal had worked as one of the top technicians of the rightist Justice Party government and he had won the 1982 elections in spite of the military support for the other rightist party. Özal gained the support of people with a life style and worldview, which contained both religious and modernist aspects. The victory of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the 2002 elections can be considered as a reaction of people to return to normal party politics, normal public administration and stability in many fields. In spite of the heavy pressures from the state organs aimed at preventing their rise because of their Islamist origins,10 the AKP leaders who have proved their administrative talents in municipalities had managed to get people’s popular support.11 The AKP’s victory can be seen as the highest point of the rise of nationalism12 and religion. The traditional elite of the state and the leftist, secular and Kemalist13 sections of the society felt that they were losing the state and regime to their enemies. The AKP rule has deepened the general stability in Turkey and made it possible to achieve a steady economic growth. AKP leaders preferred to support the process of EU integration rather than trying to change the regime into a non-Western one. Turkish people have showed their support for the AKP rule by increasing its voting rate from 34% in 2002 to 47% in 2007. EU and other international actors have expressed their satisfaction from working with a stable administration. However, the traditional secular Kemalist elite insisted that AKP leaders try to change the regime and to impose their domination over people.14 The severe opposition of leftist and secularist people with nationalist sentiments has been deepened. Anti-EU attitudes15 and opinions proposing the return to Atatürk’s principles and actions, and the secret activities of marginal groups to topple the AKP rule through illegal and undemocratic methods created tensions and instabilities in Turkey. This article will try to deal with the possibility of secular regime change by analyzing the perspectives of the public opinion and actions of the sides.


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Theoretical Considerations

Benedict Anderson’s view on nationalism16 coincides to some extent with the Turkish traditional secular rulers’ effort of trying to create a nation of their preference by erasing all kinds of historical memories and heritages. In this sense, what these rulers tried to do was to prevent the awakening of historical self-consciousness and the culmination of cultural values of the past, which could create strong links with the previous Ottoman state with the possibility of desiring to return to the past. They had to invent and create a nation, which had not existed previously. They imagined having a nation whose religious aspect was weakened or almost disappeared and which adopted the special ideology created by them in accordance with special conditions of young Turkey. The spread of a special kind of capitalism (together with a basic technology) in combination with the development of the bureaucratic state (ideologically oriented bureaucrats knowing the best for and acting on behalf of people were essential) could initiate the birth of a nation and develop the imagined community. While the literacy increased as a result of a doctrinated education and while some parts of people (education of the whole people was not necessary and possible) were able to read about their nation in books and newspapers, the public support for the regime would increase and people would unify. The role of religion in the creation of the imagined community is important because the community identity required by nationalism have some religious elements in it. In Hastings’ opinion, “every ethnicity is shaped significantly by religion as it is by language”, but the nation and nationalism are “characteristically Christian things” and nationalism has appeared in other nations “within a process of Westernization and of imitation of Christian world.”17 Anderson points out that the previous imagined communities were ‘sacred imagined communities’ bound by religious belief. Thus, the community project of the Turkish traditional elite could be lacking an important part of community creation. However, Anderson’s idea of focus on economic factors and ignoring the religious part fitted perfectly the Turkish case. Anderson stressed that “it would be short-sighted to think of the imagined communities of nations as simply growing out of and replacing religious communities.”18 In fact, a general neglect of the relationship between religion and nationalism, the role of religion in national movements and the interplay between these two phenomenons in the discussion of the origins of nationalism is observed among the prominent scholars including Ernest Gellner and Eric Hobsbawm in addition to Benedict Anderson. Gellner underlines the importance of culture in the formation of nationalism, but his vague definition of culture does not explicitly recognize the impact of religion.19 In his opinion, 207


the role of Protestantism in the emergence of the industrial world is a complex and contentious topic and the relationship of Protestant-type attitudes and nationalism has not yet been explored properly.20 Hobsbawm stresses that religion cannot be “legitimately identified with the modern nationalism that passes as [its] lineal extension, because [it] had or [has] no necessary relation with the unit of territorial political organization which is a crucial criterion of what we understand as a ‘nation’ today.”21 The reason for this negligence can also be explained by mentioning the similarity with the Turkish example. Since nationalism is associated with modernity and modernity is considered essentially as a secular phenomenon, there will be no need to take religion into consideration as a part of community creation (nationalism). The Turkish war of independence was colored with strong religious figures and rhetoric and the post-1950 rightist political movements and parties got strength from pro-religious feelings of people. There is usually a general turn to religion in times of internal and international crises. The recent high support for the religiously oriented AKP by people following the years of chaos and instability can be seen as a proof of the important place of religion in the creation of Turkish nation or community. Whether the rise of religion and/or religious nationalism22 contributes to stability or tension in the society and what kind of role religion and/or religious nationalism play in integration or disintegration of the society are important questions in the construction and maintenance of the nation and national unity.23 In this sense, it is important to point out that there are three types of nationalism in terms of its relation to religion: religious nationalism, instrumental pious nationalism and secular nationalism.24 It is clear that secular nationalism ignores or rejects religion and religious values, aims to develop a nation based on secular values and shuns having any relation to any belief system. Since the Western civilization solved the problematic relationship with religion and uses religion as a tool of national unity, secular nationalism belongs to developing countries, which try to cut the links with the traditional society elements to develop a nation-state that is secularized and Westernized. Atatürk was the bravest leader who dared to exclude religion in nation-building so far as to violate religious sensitivities of people and tried to shape and control religion to some extent in accordance with the requirements of his reforms. In the cases of instrumental pious nationalism, religion is used by nationalist leaders to unite people and to gain the support of people for their national movement. In building and creating a nation, religion is a useful tool since it is a powerful source of identity. Religion also has the potential of uniting people around exalted principles and values and creating loyalty among people to the leaders and their cause. However, the purpose of leaders who adopt this kind of nationalism is not to create a religiously defined nation and 208

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to base the rules and institutions of the society on religious principles and values. Once they secure the sound unity of people and establish their power over the whole nation, they simply ignore religion as the possible determinant of their regime. Religion can only be one of many facts of life, which can be used in time of need. Thus, using religion for political ends or returning to religion to overcome national crises can be considered under this type of religion. The founders of the Turkish Republic chose to benefit from religion and religious people in conducting the war of independence, but they were determined not to give any place religion25 in building the nation.26 Their excessive attitude of excluding religion from the public life and sphere altogether as one of the fundamentals of the society paved the way for rightist parties to use religion for their political ends.27 The present effort of dissolving and toppling the Justice and Development Party is the last round of the historical competition and will cause great repercussions in terms of the religion-nationalism relationship and the future of Turkish democracy.28 Religious nationalism29 is the type preferred by people who establish a community exclusively on the basis of religious beliefs and values or who are under heavy influence of religious beliefs. In religious national movements, religious beliefs, ideas, symbols and leaders are considered as essential for succeeding to build a unified, strong nation. In the course of building the nation, a religious language is used; communication between people is materialized through religious modes; the movement is cloaked with religious motives and considerable support is received from religious leaders and institutions. The ultimate aim is to establish an independent political unit including state, which is governed according to or under the influence of religious rules and beliefs. Inserting and codifying these rules and beliefs in laws, institutions and procedures will also be sought to achieve the domination of religion over the society. In building a nation through this kind of nationalism, most probably an alien other will be created to strengthen the sense of community and belonging and the feelings of intolerance and hatred will be encouraged against the alien, which will be subjected to exclusion if it is inside the nation. It is clear that, in such a community dominated by religious nationalism, democracy will not flourish and the integration and consolidation of the community will not be possible. Whether the AKP represents such religious nationalism30 is the current problem concerning the future of Turkish democracy and Turkey’s place in the West. The leaders of the AKP have Islamist origins because they were members of Erbakan’s religious party and resorted to a religious rhetoric while acting on behalf of that party. In fact, former Prime Minister and President Turgut Özal had also tried to be MP candidate for Erbakan’s party. Until the 209


1990s, Erbakan’s parties, which had also used a nationalist rhetoric, got less than 20% in general elections, occasionally suffering heavy election defeats.31 Only the chaotic political atmosphere of the early 1990s with deep splits within centrist rightist and leftist parties brought the RP of Erbakan to the first place with a tiny margin ahead of the others. Current leaders of the AKP decided to establish their own party after they had deep disagreement with Erbakan’s leadership and tried to attract people from other centrist rightist parties. In its second term in power, the AKP is far from being a pure religious party with the participation even from leftist and Alevi circles. Given the large-scale support (47%) which it got from all the sections of the society, it is impossible to think the AKP will return to radical religious stance after becoming a real centrist party like the Democrat Party, the Justice Party and the Motherland Party. The AKP is the party which defends Turkey’s EU connection and membership the most enthusiastically because it benefits from it in terms of gaining legitimacy and becoming a normal actor.32 The AKP also has to ensure the protectors of the regime, including the military, that it has no intention of changing the regime. Finally, and most importantly, the AKP has to obey the secular character of the system to get votes of people 80% of whom considers themselves as secular. This article will try mainly to analyze opinions and perceptions of these people on the threat of radical Islam (religious state).33 C.

Research Methodology

Respondents: This study is based on a fieldwork, which was conducted in the second half of October 2007. Face-to-face interviews were carried out in 12 cities, which constitute NUTS-1 regional system developed by the Turkish Statistical Institute to represent the whole of Turkey. Sex, marital status, age structure and the provinces of the sampling are listed in Table 1. We excluded institutional population and sampled only adults over 18. The number of the registered voters is 42,799,303 as of July 27, 2007 general election. Our sample size is 2903, confidence level is 99 percent, and confidence interval is .02391. Sampling Design: While constructing the sample, we have applied multi-staging, stratifying and clustering. After determining provinces (stratified), districts and blocks (clustered, proportional to population), we have also applied gender and age quotas. Once the blocks were fixed, then we selected the first dwelling units randomly and then followed systematic numbers. Questionnaire Design: The questionnaire was structured and composed of both open-ended and close-ended questions. Almost all of our questions have been tested and implemented several times in various surveys in the past. So reliability and validity of the questionnaire’s items were assured. 210

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Procedure: We used cross-sectional survey method to gather data. A very well-known pollster (Pollmark Research) implemented and coded the survey. We, as researchers, accompanied Pollmark staff during every step of the fieldwork. Face-to-face interview technique was used to fill out questionnaires. Pollmark field inspectors audited fastidiously the interviewers. Experienced interviewers were used and retrained for the questionnaire. Besides telephone checking in the survey field, after collecting all questionnaires at coding center, we carried out telephone checking to randomly selected interviewees as a second quality control. Data processing and debugging were the ordinary procedures. Data analysis: Initially, we carried out non-parametric test (chi square) for variables, which would be used further as analyses that are more complex. Then, we conducted multi-dimensional scaling and factor analysis for data reduction. Thirdly, we analyzed these findings (new variables) which we obtained from factor analysis and then implemented ANOVA test to figure out significance level. Table 1.Demographic Characteristics of the Sampling Sex Female Male Marital Status Married Single Widow/Divorced Age Structure 18-25 26-35 36-45 46-60 61 and over Provinces (NUTS-1)* Adana (7 districts) Ankara (11 districts) Bursa (5 districts) Erzurum (3 districts) Gaziantep (5 districts) Istanbul (18 districts) Ýzmir (11 districts) Kayseri (4 districts) Malatya (3 districts) Samsun (4 districts) Tekirda™ (4 districts) Trabzon (3 districts)

Frequency 1383 1520

Percent 47.7 52.3

1876 900 127

64.6 31 4.4

769 715 585 567 266

26.5 24.6 20.2 19.5 9.2

355 340 284 110 186 516 401 170 97 184 130 129

12.2 11.7 9.8 3.8 6.4 17.8 13.8 5.8 3.3 6.3 4.5 4.4

*NUTS-1: The Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics. 211


SECULARIST PERCEPTION OF THE ISLAMIST THREAT AND THE NATURE OF ACTIVITIES OF ISLAMISTS A thorough analysis of the Turkish society and politics underlines deep divisions between different sections. After experiencing the long oneparty rule of the Kemalist elites, the frequent interventions in Turkish politics and social life since 1960 and the recent sudden developments interrupting natural political and social processes especially point to the hidden, but unignorable, strength of so-called Kemalist and secular elites. There is a perception that nothing happens in Turkey without knowledge and permission of these people and no Turkish actor is given a free hand in fulfilling its project, which contradicts their opinions on the world and Turkey. It is also believed that these people (perhaps White Turks) represent true Westernization, democratization and socialization with their appearances, attire, habits, speaking, views, policies and actions.34 Kemalism, which is considered as the official ideology of the regime under the protection of the secular and Kemalist military-bureaucratic enclave, emerges as an authoritarian project of Westernization. Alternatives are not accepted even under the name of democracy and pluralism. Such project of building nation-state from above clearly excludes Islamists, Alevis and Kurds who seek the recognition of their different identities35 and does not present the opportunity of public representation for those groups.36 The rise of Islamism37 in this sense represents a break-off from this tradition, encouraging the others to break the rules of the game. The Islamist demands of the recognition of differences as identities encourage Alevis and Kurds to claim identity rights, which constitutes a revolt against the unity of the nation.38 Since Kemalism is the only acceptable rasion d’être of the state, comprising elements that centralize human beings vital for maintaining the idea of society, the Islamist revolt against it, which encourages the others to do the same thing,39 has to be taken seriously and secularism has to be defended at all costs, even sacrificing democracy and rule of law. On the other hand, secularism, which is defined solely by secularists, is understood not only as the official disestablishment of religion from the state, but also the constitutional control of religious affairs by the state. When secularism is implemented as a political project to control religion, the way of governing the state becomes less pluralistic and democratic. The Kemalistsecularist project, in fact, defines a particular way of being, a way of thinking and a way of living to be strictly followed by the society and people to gain the right of public representation and to have roles in the public life and sphere. In this system, people are allowed to have only a particular secular identity, which is constructed as the public identity and which is referenced to the secular national ideals, to the extent that even appearances of people are important conditions in participating in social and political life. Fixing social life and 212

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identities with the political commitments of the Kemalist project especially excludes Islamist or non-Islamist women wearing headscarf from the public space40 and prevents mutual contributions between women and public life.41 Failing to develop “a more dialogical, tolerant and accommodating strategy of living with difference” (a democratic secular imaginary), which enables to approach claimers of different identities emphatically and critically,42 leads Kemalists-secularists to interpret the rise of Islamists as a serious threat to the regime.43 Successes and public visibility of Islamists/conservatives in universities, professions, business, municipal offices, the Parliament and finally the government are considered as the infiltration of ‘untouchables’ to critical places to change the regime.44 In the eyes of secularists, the rising influence of Islamists in every realm of human activity from the industrial sector to intellectual activities and from cinema to the media is a result of an organized effort of developing an alternative intellectual model that is the prerequisite of establishing cultural hegemony (intellectual domination). The most dangerous thing in this sense is to consider Islamism simply as a movement seeking recognition or a civil societal discourse, which will bring about a social change for the further democratization of Turkey, and thus to see the emergence of Islamism as a revolt against the authoritarian military regime.45 Some secularists even go further by believing that the Turkish military, which is the most powerful protector of secularism, implemented from the early 1980s an Islamization program and brought Islamists to the high level state positions enabling them to be in the center of activities that shaped the Turkish social, cultural and political life, “which is colonized by a specific interpretation of Islam.”46 Actually, the influence of conservative actors are felt increasingly in all sectors of economy, all fields of social, cultural and political life and all spheres of activities in Turkey. They are engaged in crucial activities including production, consumption, media, culture, and politics to the extent they are considered as a powerful agent in all spheres of society. Turkish modernity is going through a transformation under the impact of conservatives, who are now an effective and strong political, economic and cultural force. Turkish political economy is under the heavy influence of Islamic capital47 and the Turkish cultural life is dominated by activities of Islamic groups emphasizing the importance of Islamic values and norms. In Kaya’s account, “the Islamists have formed over 1,000 business corporations and have thousands of student dormitories, 110 journals, over 800 private schools and 51 radio and 20 television channels.”48 All these facts point that the Turkish society is not going through a process of secularization sought by the secular elite, but it is “witnessing the process of sacralization and de-privatization in which the presence of Islam is felt strongly in the different spheres of societal relations.”49 213


However, the important thing is that the Islamists of today are highly different from the Islamists of the past. According to one opinion, they have adopted the state’s current ideals in terms of achieving a neo-liberal economy.50 They are not against or in fight with modernism, but they participate in modern life without having any problems with their Islamic beliefs. The rhetoric calling fight against the regime and opting for regime change does not have currency any more among Islamists, but it belongs to radical marginal groups having connections with foreign terrorist groups and followed by security forces of the state. Defending pluralism, democracy, tolerance and dialogue and upholding participation in the functioning of the regime have more credentials among Islamists and conservatives. In fact, the different kinds of Islam and Islamism emerge in connection with differences on class, ethnicity, and gender. Some authors speak of a ‘post-Islamic stage’,51 which represents the loss of unity for the Islamic social movement. Islamists and conservatives feel free in voicing any kinds of opinions and in adopting any style of wearing and behaving. In short, these people, at least, want to give the impression that they do not have any problems with the regime, democracy and secularism. They are aware that the expansion of rights and freedoms including cultural ones in the society and the mutual tolerance between different sections of the society will serve their interests given their poor conditions in the past in terms of enjoying rights and freedoms. Therefore, Islamic identity claims do not represent a challenge against modernism and a rejection of modernist way of life, but it falls in the sphere of the politics of identity within modernity. In the past, the Islamists could be seeking an identity formation rejecting alternative ways of life and thinking and having an exclusionary character to form a sound body of community. Today, Islamists still are engaged in identity formation on Islamic values and norms, but they prefer to live together with the others side by side in mutual understanding believing that their existence as a separate entity depends on pluralism and democracy. PUBLIC PERCEPTIONS OF RADICAL ISLAM In this section, the threat of radical Islam in Turkey (the possibility of theocratic state)52 will be analyzed according to the statistical data obtained from a public survey conducted in October 2007. Three questions were asked to people who participated in the survey.53 The analyses regarding each question will be made according to the variables of socio-political identity, socio-economic status, political party preference and ethnic origin. The response of 36.5% of people was “yes” and 52.3% of them were “no” to the question, “Is there a radical Islamist threat in Turkey?” The rate of people who think that Turkey’s secular state structure will end and Turkey will be a theocratic state is 26% while the rate of people who do not predict such 214

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a possibility is 67%. 30% of people think that the actions of the AKP government undermine secularism in Turkey and 62% of them are of the opinion that the AKP actions do not contain such a risk (Table 2).54 The interesting point is the decrease of perception of fundamentalism since 2003. The ruling party seems to convince more Turkish people in terms of the government’s policies. It is clear that the great majority of Turkish people do not share the concern of the secularist-Kemalist elite on the possibility of regime change in Turkey on religious grounds. On the other hand, an important part of people who conceive a threat of radical Islam in Turkey do not perceive it as a possibility of the emergence of theocratic state. They also do not consider such a threat a result of the AKP’s actions, but they have the tendency of seeing this threat outside the political sphere. People fighting against radical Islam earnestly and adamantly want to present the threat of radical Islam as the effort of the public political space and try to initiate a public discussion in this line, but people do not consider radical Islam related to the political field and tend to have awareness on the civil aspect of radical Islam. Table 2. Radical Islam, Theocratic State and AKP’s Anti-Secular Policies Yes Is There a Radical Islamist Threat in Turkey?


No Opinion



October 36.5% 52.3% 11.3% 100.0% 755.363 (.000) 2007 August 38.9% 45.4% 15.7% 100.0% 296.165 (.000) 2003

Will Turkey be a theocratic state by October giving up its secular 25.7% 67.0% 7.3% 2007 state structure in the future? Do the actions of the October AKP government 30.2% 61.7% 8.1% undermine or threaten 2007 secularism in Turkey?

100.0% 1715.724 (.000)

100.0% 1358.835 (.000)

Asymp. Significance levels are in parentheses. A.

Sociopolitical Identities

The highest rate of “yes” answer to the question, “Is there a radical Islamist threat in Turkey?” is seen in Leftist-Social Democrats while the lowest rate belongs to the Conservative-Nationalist group (Table 3). The threat of radical Islam is perceived only in the Leftist-Social Democrats in the rate 215

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higher than 50%. The rate of perceiving the radical Islamist threat in Modernist Kemalists is 43% whereas only 27% of Conservative-Nationalists perceive such a threat. All three sociopolitical groups decreased their perceptions on the threat of radical Islam since 2003. The rate of “yes” answer to the question, “Will Turkey be a theocratic state by giving up its secular state structure in the future?” is 42% in Leftist-Social Democrats, 28% in Modernist-Kemalists and 18% in Conservative-Nationalists. The similar “yes” answer rates are valid for the question, “Do the actions of the AKP government undermine or threaten secularism in Turkey?”; 53% in Leftist-Social Democrats, 36% in ModernistKemalists and 18% in Conservative-Nationalists. Table 3. Radical Islamist Threat in Turkey: Sociopolitical Identities Modernist- ConservativeKemalist Nationalist Is There a Radical Islamist Threat in Turkey?

Will Turkey be a theocratic state by giving up its secular state structure in the future? Do the actions of the AKP government undermine or threaten secularism in Turkey?




F test (Sig.: .000) Yes F test (Sig.: .000)



LeftistSocial Democrat

















F test (Sig.: .000)








F test (Sig.: .000)




Significance levels are in parentheses. Although there are important differences between the perceptions of different socio-political sections of Turkish people on the threat of radical Islam and theocratic state, it is clear that there is a considerable concern in Turkey in parallel with the actions of the AKP government that radical Islam 216

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can be increasingly influential and Turkey can become a theocratic state one day. Even a considerable part of the Conservative-Nationalist group feels such threat and Leftist-Social Democrats have a serious problem of not trusting the governmental party on regime change. The Turkish political history, full of crises, interventions, plots, assassinations, capital punishments and coups as well as the secularist propaganda that religious people are enemies of the regime can be considered as relevant factors. On the other hand, the rates can be considered as relatively low for a party having Islamic origins, which is seen by secular elite as anti-system (anti-regime) party. B.

Socioeconomic Statuses

There is a strong negative correlation between the perception of radical Islam and socio-economic status. In other words, as their levels of education and income rise, people become more inclined to perceiving threat of radical Islam. In spite of a decline in perception of fundamentalist threat in low and middle socioeconomic classes, the fear of high socioeconomic class related to fundamentalism has increased since 2003. The doubts and fears on the possibility of Turkey’s becoming a theocratic state are also considerably more common in high levels of socio-economic statuses. Finally, people who think that AKP’s policies undermine the secular structure of the state belong predominantly to the groups whose socio-economic statuses are higher. The predecessor of the Republic of Turkey, the Ottoman Empire, was the biggest Muslim country governed according to the Islamic law. The founders of the modern Turkish Republic made great efforts and implemented radical reforms to end the influence of religion in the state rule and the community life. While they tried to secularize people and the state, they always feared that the radical Islamist forces could strengthen their power and might try to change the regime to bring the Islamic rule back. Therefore, they were always vigilant on the rise of political Islam and considered even innocent religious demands of people as a serious threat for the regime.55 While these political and military elite saw an essential duty to warn and educate people on the radical Islamist threat, they did not hesitate to resort to excessive measures to prevent and preempt such a threat. Dissolving political parties, which gained considerable electorate support (the AKP won 47% of the votes in July 2007 elections, but it could not save itself from facing the case of dissolution in the Constitutional Court), is one of the effective tools of the elite in preventing the threat of radical Islam and theocratic state. Given such a high level of consciousness and activity among the traditional elite on the rise of political Islam, high rates of fears and worries among people belonging to high socio-economic statuses emerge as ordinary 217


phenomenons. Regardless of whether this perception of threat is imaginary or not, it can be considered as a “taught threat”. People are subjected to heavy propaganda and education on the existence of the radical Islamist threat and people who receive good education become more inclined to stay under the influence of the state ideology. Being close to the traditional elite and their ideology in order to be an effective member of public political, cultural and economic life can also be considered as a relevant factor. On the other hand, it can be said that these people are sincere in feeling the fear of being ruled by totalitarian, Islamic-oriented people since they see such regimes in the Muslim world and since they believe that the Ottoman Empire was such a regime. Referring frequently to the rhetoric of the establishment of the Nazi regime in Germany, the Turkish elite believe that the ordinary masses will be used by the Islamists for the enactment of their rule. Religious practices and demands of people, therefore, are not considered as legitimate ones. Table 4. Radical Islamist Threat in Turkey: Socioeconomic Statuses

Is There a Radical Islamist Threat in Turkey? Will Turkey be a theocratic state by giving up its secular state structure in the future? Do the actions of the AKP government undermine or threaten secularism in Turkey?


Middle SES

High SES

F test

October 2007





58.421 (.000)

August 2003





13.357 (.000)

October 2007





16.167 (.000)

October 2007





64.102 (.000)

Losing their influential positions in social, political and economic life may also be one of the reasons behind the radical Islam and theocratic state fear of the people belonging to high-level statuses. The rise of conservative and religious people in the community life is perceived as the change the political and economic elite and secular people do not want to live under regardless of whether they aim to establish a theocratic regime. They are aware that they will not be influential economically and politically in the new era and they will not be so free in benefiting from public goods at the expense of others. This is, in fact, a power competition and one side has the most negative opinions on the other. There is a deep lack of trust and understanding between the sides. The 218

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crucial point here is whether the AKP will gain trust and votes of the people belonging to high-level statuses or whether it will continue to be a party supported mostly by poor and ordinary people. If it persuades at least some part of the people of high-level statuses that their life and positions will not be harmed radically, it will gain legitimacy as a party of the regime. The last elections shows that the AKP is supported by the wide middle class living in the cities at a certain life standards, but it seems that it will face difficulty in gaining the support and trust of the people whose education and economic level is high and the competition between conservatives and those elite will continue (Table 4). C.

Political Party Preferences

The rate of believing that there is a threat of radical Islam in Turkey varies according to political party preferences.56 The AKP followers believe in the lowest rate (15.7%) that the threat of radical Islam exists and the people who perceive this threat in the highest rate (70.3%) are the CHP followers. If the average of the sampling is taken as reference, the followers of all the other parties outside the AKP perceive the threat of radical Islam above the average (Table 5). All leading parties’ supporters, except CHP’s, decreased their concerns toward threat of fundamentalism since 2003. The possibility of Turkey’s becoming a theocratic state is considered higher by the followers of the parties other than the AKP and the MHP. The parties outside the AKP share the opinion that AKP’s policies threaten secularism in Turkey strongly. The people who voted for the AKP would naturally feel less threat on the future of the regime and the possibility of theocratic state. If they did feel that threat, they would not have voted for the AKP. It is well known fact supported by public surveys that the great majority of Turkish people are in favor of secularism instead of religious rule. If the AKP followers consist of only religious and conservative people who do not care about secularism, this can be seen as a sign of a serious polarization in the Turkish community and the weakening of the secular structure and rule can be expected. However, the high rate of people supporting secularism and the existence of various sections among the AKP followers point out that secularism is not weakened, but strengthened in Turkey and the AKP becomes a centrist party by giving up its leaders’ former radical rhetoric and elements. On the other hand, it is clear that socialists, leftists and Kemalists are still not sure about the hidden intentions of the radical Islamists of the past.



Table 5. Radical Islamist Threat in Turkey: Political Party Preferences Is There a Radical Islamist Threat in Turkey? October 2007

August 2003

Will Turkey be a theocratic state by Do the actions of the giving up its secular AKP government state structure in the undermine or threaten future? secularism in Turkey? October October 2007 2007













MHP DTP / DEHAP OTHERS Undecided/ None Total


















36.4% 69.138 (.000)

38.9% 13.754 (.000)

25.7% 69.264 (.000)

30.2% 127.077 (.000)

F test

Yes Yes Yes Yes

Significance level in parentheses. D.

Ethnic Structure

There is a meaningful statistical difference between different ethnic groups on perceiving the threat of radical Islam. According to the data, the Turks feel that threat in higher rate than the Kurds do (Table 6-see next page). However, the situation was the opposite in 2003. Then, Kurds felt more threat than Turks in terms of radical Islam. It is interesting that while indigenous ethnicities (Turks and Kurds) of Turkey decreased their concern of radical Islam or fundamentalism, the concern of the other (mostly Balkanic or Caucasian) has increased since 2003. The doubts on the possibility of Turkey’s becoming a theocratic state are felt in a higher rate among the Kurds though the statistical difference is not so big. Finally, the rate of those who believe that the AKP’s policies threaten secularism in Turkey is higher in the Turks than it is in the Kurds. It might be said that the Kurds are mostly focused on their cultural rights and religious concerns are secondary to them. CONCLUSION Staying under the influence of special conditions existent during the last years of the Ottoman Empire and at the years of the independence war, the founders of the Turkish Republic tried to exclude religion while trying to establish a new Turkish nation unified under the framework of a special secular 220

Metin Toprak, Nasuh Uslu and Murat Yilmaz/Public Perceptions of Radical Islam: Democratic Consolidation vs Secular Fundamentalism

Table 6. Radical Islamist Threat in Turkey: Ethnic Structure Is There a Radical Islamist Threat in Turkey?





F test

October 2007

Yes 36.0%




7.917 (.000)

August 2003

Yes 38.1%




3.400 (.034)

Yes 25.5%




1.815 (.163)

Yes 30.0%




4.172 (.016)

Will Turkey be a theocratic state by giving October up its secular state 2007 structure in the future? Do the actions of the AKP government October undermine or threaten 2007 secularism in Turkey?

Significance levels are in parentheses. ideology. Today’s Turkish traditional elite, who have inherited the same mentality and type of attitude, have great fears about the possibility of regime change by conservative and religious circles. The exclusion of religion from nation-building and the apparently hostile attitude of the traditional elite toward religious values and religious circles have always helped the rightist parties in gaining majority in the parliament. The AKP’s great victories in the last two general elections as a party founded by the Islamists of the past have further alerted the traditional elite given the poor performance of the secularist and leftist party founded by Kemal Atatürk (CHP). In the eyes of the secularists, the AKP’s Islamist leaders as well as other Islamist circles, whose influence has begun to be felt in all aspects of the community life, aim in the final analysis to establish a non-secular or theocratic state governed according to Islamic rules.57 Allowing the use of headscarf in universities and public offices and the election of an Islamist president whose wife wears headscarf are symbolic developments, which point to the inevitable end. On the other hand, Islamist circles and women wearing headscarf claim that their only purpose is to get recognition of their cultural rights and distinct identities. In their eyes, the secularists are trying to impose their choice of identity and ideology on the others and exclusde people not conforming to this identity from the public space. The great majority of Turkish people do not share the fears of the secularists and do not show any reaction to the on-going process of change. The ratio of people who are not happy about the existing situation generally coincides with the voting support of the CHP in general elections. The opposing people generally come from high socio-economic statuses and they constitute the major support base of the CHP, which failed to get votes of people in low socio-economic statuses. It is highly unlikely that the 221


AKP, which has become the centrist party by gaining the 47% of the total votes, will try to change the regime, but it will not surrender to pressures of the traditional elite. On the other hand, the secularists seem to be determined to try to block the process of change because they do not want to lose their influential positions and they do not want to be ruled by a theocratic regime. Under the present conditions, it is likely that the two sides will go through a harsh power competition by creating great instabilities in Turkish politics and economy. If Turkey overcomes this crisis through democratic and peaceful ways, its democracy will be further strengthened. The opposite development might result in Turkey’s exclusion from the West in a critical period when its EU membership process continues. 1.




5. 6. 7. 8.

NOTES Birol Akgün, “Twins Or Enemies: Comparing Nationalist and Islamist Traditions in Turkish Politics," Middle East Review of International Affairs, Vol.6, No.1, March 2002, pp.17-35; Haldun Gülalp, “The Crisis of Westernization in Turkey: Islamism versus Nationalism”, Innovation: The European Journal of Social Sciences, Vol.8, No.2, 1995, pp.175-182. We use the term “Islamist” to describe a political perspective mainly shaped by religious interpretations and commitments. However, as Wittes points out this word can be applied to such a wide array of groups as to be almost meaningless. From the terrorists to peaceful Sufis it embraces everyone. Tamara Cofman Wittes, “Three Kinds of Movements,” Journal of Democracy Vol.19, No.3, July 2008, pp.712. Cinar examines the terms modernity, Islam and secularism in the context of Turkish civilization adventure. See Alev Cinar, Modernity, Islam, and Secularism in Turkey, (MN:University of Minnesota Press, 2005.), p. 199. Turkish modernization has been seen as an example of one of the most successful modernizations in a long time. See Sibel Bozdoðan and Reþat Kasaba (Eds.), Rethinking Modernity and National Identity in Turkey, (University of Washington Press, 1997.), p. 270. Hugh Poulton, Top Hat, Grey Wolf and Crescent. Turkish Nationalism and the Turkish Republic, (London: Hurst & Company, 1997.), s. 93. Ibid. Ibid., pp. 126-127. Zafer Toprak, Leftist Fascism and Authoritarian Modernism, 19221946, in Turkish, (Ottoman Bank Archive and Research Center, May 27, 2006, Istanbul), p. 20. 222

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9. 10.

11. 12.




Pulton, Top Hat, Grey Wolf and Crescent, pp. 184-187. Ergun Özbudun discusses the adventures and meanings of left-wing and right-wing parties in the context of AKP victory in 2002. Ergun Özbudun, “Changes And Continuities in The Turkish Party System,” Representation, Vol.42, No.2, July 2006, pp.129-137. See also Ihsan Dagi, Turkey Between Democracy and Militarism: Post Kemalist Perspectives, (Orion Publications, Ankara, May 2008), p. 301. Cihan Tuðal, “NATO’s Islamists,” New Left Review, No.44, MarApr. 2007, pp.5-34. For the increasing role of ethnicity and religion on voting behavior see Ayºe Güneº-Ayata and Sencer Ayata, “Ethnic and Religious Bases of Voting,” in Politics, Parties, and Elections in Turkey, (eds). Yýlmaz Esmer, Sabri Sayarý, 2002, pp.137-156. Kemalism and Ataturkism are often used interchangeably. However, Ataturkism is a constitutional order for every citizen. While Ataturkism seems more politics free, Kemalism is ideology-loaded term. For left-wing and right-wing definitions of Kemalism see Rasim Özgür Dönmez, “The paradoxical image of the west in different ideologies and essentialism in Turkish politics,” South East Europe Review for Labour and Social Affairs, Issue: 01 / 2007, pp.103-126. The AKP is cited as the instance of an evolution of Islamist parties to Islamic (or better yet, Muslim) parties. This evolution means that Islamist parties evolved away from their Islamist agendas to become democratic parties in the contemporary sense. Husain Haqqani and Hillel Fradkin, “Going Back to the Origins,” Journal of Democracy, Vol.19, No.3, July 2008, pp.13-18. Tarhan Erdem, one of the leading pollsters and well known social democrat figures, approaches AKP positively. See Tarhan Erdem, Understanding New Turkey, in Turkish, November 3, 2007, (Konda Research Publishing, Ýstanbul), p. 54. Anti EU and anti democracy movements go hand in hand in Turkey. With the rise of conservative democracy in recent years, prodemocracy NGOs have become the target of the status quo. For an international evaluation of assaults on democracy see Carl Gershman and Michael Allen, “New Threats to Freedom: The Assault on Democracy Assistance,” Journal of Democracy, Vol.17, No.2, April 2006, pp.36-51. For Turkish experience of attacks on democracy see columnist Prof.Ihsan Dagi’s comments at daily Today’s Zaman, “Note: Anti-democratic forces are also anti-Western,” July 14, 2008; “The roots of anti-Westernism in Turkish military (I),” July 21, 2008; “The roots of anti-Westernism in Turkish military (II)," July 28, 223


16. 17.

18. 19. 20. 21. 22.

2008; “Lessons from Pakistan for our coup plotters,” August 24, 2008; “Call for the army!,” August 31, 2008; “Why Turkish generals oppose globalization,” September 2, 2008. Barbara-Ann J. Rieffer, “Religion and Nationalism: Understanding the Consequences of a Complex Relationship”, Ethnicities, Vol.3, No. 2, 2003, pp. 220-22. Adrian Hastings, The Construction of Nationhood: Ethnicity, Religion and Nationalism, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), pp. 185-186. His following opinions are also related to our topic: “while the nation-state was largely shaped by a Christian and biblical culture so that without the latter it is hardly imaginable, it was not the only political option consonant with Christian culture or the European tradition and, indeed, in its full form it flourished particularly within Post-Reformation culture. Even though the Middle Ages actually nurtured it, it was at the same time antipathetic to the central political traditions of Catholicism, whether papal or imperial. But it is far more antipathetic to Islam. Here there was from the start a political model – the world empire based on ummah, a community of faith, but based also on the possession of single, and genuinely sacred, language. Not only was the explicit model of Islam together with its early history opposed to anything like a multitude of nation-states, unlike Christianity, it was also opposed to linguistic diversity… the construction of nations within the Christian world was not something independent of Christianity but, rather, something stimulated by the Christian attitude both to language and to the state… [Islam] is in every way in principle far more politically universalist and exercises in consequence a religious restraint upon nationalism which Christianity has often failed to do.” pp. 200-201. Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities, 13th edition, (London: Verso, 2003), p. 22. Ernest Gellner, Nations and Nationalism, Second Edition, (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2006), pp. 42, 89. Ibid., p. 40. Eric Hobsbawm, Nations and Nationalism since 1780: Programme, Myth, Reality, 11th edition, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), p. 47. Egypt, one of relatively newly emerged Muslim countries, has experienced this kind of nationalism during era of Muhammad Ali and Hosni Mubarak. See Steven Hicks, Behind the Veil: Islamic Activism and Social Change in Modern Egypt, Master Thesis, (Simon Fraser University, April, 1989), p. 129.


Metin Toprak, Nasuh Uslu and Murat Yilmaz/Public Perceptions of Radical Islam: Democratic Consolidation vs Secular Fundamentalism


24. 25.





In fact, religious nationalism is not valid only domestically but its international context is more striking. See Soner Cagaptay, “Turkey at a Crossroads: Preserving Ankara’s Western Orientation,” Policy Focus, #48, October 2005, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2005. Barbara-Ann J. Rieffer, “Religion and Nationalism: Understanding the Consequences of a Complex Relationship”, Ethnicities, Vol.3, No. 2, 2003, pp. 225-235. Because the founders of modern Turkey were very doubtful about compromisable of Islam and modern Western values and system. However, it is generally accepted that neither Islam or Islamic culture nor Christianity and Judaism are major obstacle to political modernity, but undemocratic rulers use these religions as their excuses. See Robin Wright “Islam and Liberal Democracy: Two Visions of Reformation,” Journal of Democracy, Vol.7, No.2, 1996, pp.64-75. However, Olivier Roy concludes that political Islam has failed and could not transform itself like Christianity. See Oliver Roy, The Failure of Political Islam, (Harvard University Press, 1994), p. 238. There is a huge gap between the transformation of Islam and Christianity. The Islamist reformist movement or more generally Muslim countries have a long way to go. Not only founders of modern Turkey, but political leaders of the end of 20th century also apply religious reference to create political impact and sphere for their countries. See Berdal Aral, “An Inquiry into the D-8 Experiment: An Incipient Model of an Islamic Common Market?,” Alternatives: Turkish Journal of International Relations, Vol.4, No.1-2, Spring&Summer 2005, pp. 89-107. It can be said that founders of modern Turkey have seen secularism as the ideology of the state, and Islam as the ideology of the people. In their eyes, these two World views are in conflict. See Elizabeth Özdalga, The Veiling Issue, Official Secularism and Popular Islam in Modern Turkey, (Surrey: Curzon Press, 1998.) For the discussion on liberalization and democratization in Muslim countries in the context of Arab countries see Ibtisam Ibrahim, "Debating Democracy in the Arab World," in Civil Society: Democratization in the Arab World, (a monthly publication of the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies), Cairo, Egypt. Volume 9: Issue 98. February 2000. 11p. In recent years, the word of fundamentalism has often been used with Islam. However, David Lehmann concludes that “the religious traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are all today undergoing 225






34. 35.

a transformation known generically as fundamentalist”. See David Lehmann, “Fundamentalism and Globalism,” , Third World Quarterly, Vol.19, No.1, 1998, pp. 607-634. Marc F. Plattner argues that Islamic fundamentalism and “Asian values” have had the greatest potential for mounting an ideological challenge to liberal democracy in recent decades. See Marc F.Plattner, “Globalization and SelfGovernment,” Journal of Democracy, Vol.13, No.3, July 2002, pp. 54-67. Political parties often want to define themselves in terms of Ideologies, namely socialist, social democrat, liberal, conservative and so on. For a critical view on AKP’s definition of its conservatism see Berat Bekir Özipek, “Conservatism of AKP is Open to Question,” daily Taraf, September 3, 2008. For historical development of religious party tradition in Turkey see Nilufer Narli, “The Rise of the Islamist Movement in Turkey,” Middle East Review. of International Affairs, Vol.3, No.3, September 1999, pp.38-48; Saban Taniyici, “Transformation of Political Islam in Turkey Islamist Welfare Party’s Pro-EU Turn, ” Party Politics, Vol.9, No. 4, 2003, pp.463-483; Angel Rabasa and F.Stephen Larrabee, The Rise of Political Islam in Turkey, RAND Corporation, 2008. p. 10. An article on Islamists of 1990s argues that “Islamic mainstreamers defend the current oligarchic, capitalist structure of the Turkish regime and demand Islamicization of the system without thorough structural transformation on economic and political fronts.” Cihan Tuðal, “Islamism in Turkey: Beyond Instrument and Meaning,” Economy and Society, Vol.31, No.1, February 2002, pp. 85–111. The material that article has used is still valid today. So it is quite possible to arrive similar conclusions for today’s AKP and other rightist parties. Tuðal also argues in the above article that “religious alternative capitalism is becoming an independent political choice for the . first time in the history of Turkey.” For the struggle between establishment and religious political tradition see Umit Cizre-Sakallioglu and Menderes Cinar, “Turkey 2002: Kemalism, Islamism, and Politics in the Light of the February 28 Process,” The South Atlantic Quarterly, Vol.102, No.2/3, Spring/Summer 2003, pp. 309-32. Christopher Houston, “Legislating Virtue, or Fear and Loathing in Istanbul”, Critique of Anthropology, Vol.22, No.4, 2002, p.426. It is hard to examine Kurdish population as a homogeneous group. Some writers classify Kurds in three major socio-political groups: (i) Secessionist Kurds; (ii) Occasional Kurds; and finally (iii) Muslim 226

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36. 37.


39. 40. 41.

42. 43.

44. 45.

Kurds. See M. Hakan Yavuz and Nihat Ali Özcan, “The Kurdish Question And Turkey’s Justice and Development Party,” Middle East Policy, Vol.XIII, No. 1, Spring 2006, pp.102-19. E. Fuat Keyman, “Modernity, Secularism and Islam: The Case of Turkey”, Theory, Culture and Society, Vol.24, No. 2, 2007, p. 225. Ziya ÖniÕ examines the adventure of the transformation of Turkish Islam in a different way (from moderate fundamentalists to more liberal posture). Ziya ÖniÕ, “Political Islam at the Crossroads: From Hegemony to Co-existence,” Contemporary Politics, Vol.7, No.4, December 2001, pp.281-298; for interaction of Islamic movement across the Middle East see Barry Rubin (ed.), Revolutionaries and Reformers: Contemporary Islamist Movements in the Middle East, (State University of New York Pres, 2003), p. 231. This is not the first time that Islam was used as an ideology of protest and instrument of revolt. For other international examples see Thomas Butko, “Unity Through Opposition: Islam as an Instrument of Radical Political Change,” Middle East Review of International Affairs, Vol.8, No.4, 2004, pp. 33-48. Ibrahim Kaya, “Identity Politics: The Struggle for Recognition or Hegemony?” East European Politics and Societies, Vol.21, No. 4, 2007, p. 716. Hakan Seçkinelgin, “Civil Society between the State and Society: Turkish Women with Muslim Headscarves”, Critical Social Policy, Vol.26, No. 4, 2006, pp. 757-758. The message for women is pretty clear: “Go back home and bear children,” see Hilal Elver, “Lawfare and Wearfare in Turkey,” Middle East Report Online, April 2008, ventions/elverINT.html, [accessed: September 3, 2008] Keyman, “Modernity, Secularism and Islam: The Case of Turkey”, pp. 228-229. Center for Advanced Defense Studies, Democracy in Turkey: Toeing the Line between Politics and Religion, CADS Staff, Directorate of Research, Defense Concepts Series, August 2006, 4p. In fact, the rise of conservatism or religion can be understandable as the fall of authoritarianism. For an analysis on post communist Eurasia see Lucan Way, “The Real Causes of the Color Revolutions,” Journal of Democracy, Vol.19, No.3, July 2008, pp. 55-69. For peculiarities of conservatives see Hakan Yilmaz, “Conservatism in Turkey,” Turkish Policy Quarterly, Vol.7, No.1, pp. 57-63. Kaya, “Identity Politics: The Struggle for Recognition or Hegemony?”, pp. 713-714. 227




48. 49. 50. 51. 52.


Kaya, “Identity Politics: The Struggle for Recognition or Hegemony?”, pp. 711-712. For theoretical discussion on the compatibility of Islam and democracy see Ömer Çaha, “Islam and Democracy: A Theoretical Discussion on the Compatibility of Islam and Democracy,” Alternatives: Turkish Journal of International Relations, Vol.2, No.3-4, Fall-Winter 2003, pp.106-134. Bulent Aras, “Turkish Islam's Moderate Face,” Middle East Quarterly, September 1998; Ahmet T. Kuru, “Changing Perspectives on Islamism and Secularism in Turkey: The Gülen Movement and the Ak Party,” in Muslim World in Transition: Contributions of the Gülen Movement, Proceedings, (Leeds Metropolitan University Press, 2007), pp. 14051. For the negative correlation between economic liberalization on fundamentalist movements see Davut Ates, “Economic Liberalization And Changes In Fundamentalism: The Case Of Egypt, Middle East Policy, Vol.XII, No. 4, Winter 2005, pp. 133-44. Kaya, “Identity Politics: The Struggle for Recognition or Hegemony?”, p. 712. Keyman, “Modernity, Secularism and Islam: The Case of Turkey”, p. 224. Bulent Aras, “Future of Liberal Islam,” Futures, Vol.36, No.9, Fall 2004, pp. 1034-37. Houston, “Legislating Virtue, or Fear and Loathing in Istanbul”, p. 433. Çaha argues that reactionary movements in Muslim countries were inspired more by socialist values rather than by democratic values. Islam has been considered as a source of ideology as well as a revolutionary ideology. See Ömer Çaha, “Islam and Democracy: A Theoretical Discussion on the Compatibility of Islam and Democracy,” Alternatives: Turkish Journal of International Relations, Vol.2, No.3-4, Fall-Winter 2003, pp.129. For a parallel conclusion see Aijaz Ahmad, “Islam, Islamisms and the West,” The Socialist Register, January 2008, 37p. Saeed Rahnema argues that imperialism, authoritarianism and the contemporary rise of radical Islamism are closely related. Saeed Rahnema, “Radical Islamism and Failed Developmentalism,” Third World Quarterly, Vol.29, No.3, April 2008, pp. 483-496. Ali Çarkoðlu and Binnaz Toprak argue that while percentage of people who describe themselves as Muslim has risen significantly on the one hand, loyalty to democratic values and secular system is still popular on the other. Ali Çarkoðlu and Binnaz Toprak, Religion,


Metin Toprak, Nasuh Uslu and Murat Yilmaz/Public Perceptions of Radical Islam: Democratic Consolidation vs Secular Fundamentalism





Society and Politics in a Changing Turkey, (TESEV Publications, Ýstanbul, 2007), p. 114. According to findings of A&G Research Company while 36.1 percent of people see AKP as the focal of anti secular activities, 50 percent of people do not think that AKP is the threat for secular system. A&G Research, AKP Closure Survey, 10p. August 2008 p. 9. Some Other research companies also published similar surveys’ findings on secularism and ruling AKP activities. For the adventure of the rise of political Islam in Turkey see Ömer Çaha, “Turkish Election of November 2002 and the Rise of ‘Moderate’ Political Islam,” Alternatives: Turkish Journal of International Relations, Vol.2, No.1, Fall 2003, pp. 95-116. For a survey findings on party preferences in Turkey see Ersin Kalaycio™lu, “Elections and Party Preferences in Turkey: Changes and Continuities in the 1990s,” Comparative Political Studies, Vol.27, No.3, 1994, pp. 402-424. For the AKP’s leaders’ misunderstanding of democracy see Zeyno Baran, “Turkey Divided,” Journal of Democracy, January 2008, Vol.19, No.1, pp. 55-69.