The Rise of Political Islam in Turkey

The Rise of Political Islam in Turkey

Angel Rabasa
F. Stephen Larrabee
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: 1
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 134
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  • Book Info
    The Rise of Political Islam in Turkey
    Book Description:

    Turkey, a Muslim-majority country, is pivotal to Western security interests in the Middle East. Its ruling party, the AKP, has Islamic roots but operates within a framework of strict secular democracy, which has generated controversy over the boundaries between secularism and religion. This monograph describes the politico-religious landscape in Turkey and evaluates how the balance between secular and religious forces has changed over the past decade.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-4531-7
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  4. Figures and Table
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Summary
    (pp. ix-xvi)
  6. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  7. Acronyms and Abbreviations
    (pp. xix-xx)
  8. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    As a Muslim-majority country that is also a secular democratic state, a member of NATO, and a long-standing U.S. ally, Turkey is pivotal to U.S. strategy for shaping the Middle Eastern security environment. However, Turkey has not been immune to the changes that have transformed the religiopolitical landscape of the Muslim world in recent decades, which include an increase of religiosity and an upsurge in the political expression of Islam. These trends were generated by a variety of factors, including the emergence of a religious entrepreneurial sector and of a dominant political party with Islamic roots, a more open debate...

  9. CHAPTER TWO The Islamic Landscape in Turkey
    (pp. 7-30)

    Turkey has a complex and extraordinarily rich religious tradition, ranging from pre-Islamic practices to mainstream Sunni Islam, from small minority groups of Orthodox Christians, as well as Jews, to a range of Alevis, Shi’a, and other sects. Turkey is, of course, an overwhelmingly Muslim society, but 80 years of a rigorously secular republic have placed religion in the realm of private practice for most Turks. The emergence of a more visible “religiosity” on the Turkish scene, especially over the past decade, is a product of many influences: the waning of the Kemalist legacy, a rediscovery of traditional practices, an expanding...

  10. CHAPTER THREE The Rise of Political Islam in Turkey
    (pp. 31-50)

    Over the past several decades, the strength of Islamism, or political Islam, has been growing in Turkey. Prior to 1970, the religious right was just a faction within the mainstream center-right parties. In the 1970s, it emerged as a separate political movement under the leadership of Necmattin Erbakan, who founded theMilli Görüşmovement. Islamic parties have faced strong scrutiny by the Kemalist authorities and were banned or closed down on several occasions. However, they have recently reemerged in various guises, attesting to their durability and ability to attract an important segment of the Turkish electorate. Still, until recently, they...

  11. CHAPTER FOUR The AKP in Power
    (pp. 51-74)

    Despite the AKP’s claim of being a conservative democratic party, many Turkish secularists and outside observers still question whether it has abandoned the Islamist agenda of its predecessors and reconciled itself to operating within the framework of Turkish secularism, or whether the priority that the party has given to privatization, structural reforms, and integration with the EU over a religious agenda merely represents a tactical shift in its political strategy. This chapter reviews the AKP’s record in power in an attempt to assess the validity of these concerns.

    After the AKP won the November 2002 elections, Erdoğan declared that his...

  12. CHAPTER FIVE The AKP’s Foreign Policy
    (pp. 75-90)

    The AKP’s evolution has also been reflected in its foreign policy. In contrast to the National Salvation Party (MSP) and Welfare Party, which rejected ties to the West and pursued an anti-Western agenda, the AKP has maintained Turkey’s Western orientation and has made strong ties to the West, particularly EU membership, an important pillar of its foreign policy. At the same time, the AKP has also sought to broaden and deepen Turkey’s ties in other areas, particularly the Middle East, Central Asia and the Caucasus, and the Balkans.

    This process of broadening and deepening Turkey’s ties to areas beyond the...

  13. CHAPTER SIX Future Prospects and Implications
    (pp. 91-102)

    In the past few years, the AKP has emerged as the dominant political force in Turkey. At the same time, it has undergone an important transformation, jettisoning the anti-Western rhetoric of the MSP and the Welfare Party and adopting a political agenda that emphasizes democracy, human rights, and Western integration. How deep-seated this transformation is and what impact it will have on Turkey’s future political development and foreign-policy orientation, however, remain open questions. Turkey could evolve in a number of different ways over the next decade. In this chapter, we examine four possible alternative futures for Turkey and their implications...

  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 103-113)