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From Symbolic Exile to Physical Exile

From Symbolic Exile to Physical Exile: Turkey's Imam Hatip Schools, the Emergence of a Conservative Counter-Elite, and Its Knowledge Migration to Europe

İsmail Çağlar
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 140
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  • Book Info
    From Symbolic Exile to Physical Exile
    Book Description:

    Turkey's Imam Hatip schools, which offer a combination of Islamic and secular subjects, operate in a country ostensibly committed to secular education. This thoughtful study examines the routes of these schools' graduates to various European universities. Against the backdrop of the largely secular Turkish academic establishment, the Imam Hatip students frequently choose Europe for their university education because they are excluded and banned from native universities. This important volume contributes to the discussion of the role these schools play in the social mobility of religious conservatives in Turkey, as well as offering new research in the study of Turkish transnational religious movements.

    eISBN: 978-90-485-1828-9
    Subjects: Religion, Education

Table of Contents

  1. FOREWORD Pious Muslims as a Bridge between Turkey and the West: The Remarkable Case of the Imam Hatip Graduates Studying in Europe
    (pp. 7-22)
    Martin van Bruinessen

    Turkey’s particular form of secularism has given rise to a number of surprising paradoxes, one of which constitutes the subject of this study. Pious Muslims, who were prevented from entering Turkish universities by a secular elite fearful of losing its control of state and society, have been sending their best and brightest to European (and American) universities, thus contributing to the emergence of a well-educated counter-elite with an international outlook.

    Turkey’s secularism orlaiklik– after the Frenchlaïcité, which constituted its source of inspiration – is not based on the idea of a separation of the political and religious...

    (pp. 23-26)

    I first became interested in Imam Hatip Schools (İmam Hatip Okulu, iho) as part of my ongoing doctoral research into debates on secularism over the last two decades in Turkey. During my field research, I learned about the Imam Hatip backgrounds of the country’s most prominent political actors of the dominant conservative movement.¹ As I delved more deeply into the issue, I realized that graduates of particular Imam Hatip Schools, most notably the İstanbul Imam Hatip School, were playing a key role in conservative politics and comprised a significant proportion of the conservative movement’s current political actors – unlike earlier...

    (pp. 27-54)

    Modern Turkish historiography has widely promoted the idea that there was continuity between the reforms undertaken by the Ottoman regime in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and the process of modernization pursued by the Republic in the twentieth century.¹ The thesis is convincing in some respects, namely in the sense that the reforms of the Ottoman period – starting in the spheres of education, the judiciary, the bureaucracy, and public services – underwent a process of acceleration during the Republican period. However, it is necessary to underline the extent of the differences, as well as the similarities, between the reform...

    (pp. 55-98)

    In 2000, önder’s ‘Let the Stars Shine’ campaign was announced by conservative tv channels and newspapers, and addressed both students and donors. Salih¹ described his encounter with the campaign:

    Which departments could I choose? Only the pedagogical department and those sorts of things were available. I did not want to do this sort of thing, and therefore I was out in the cold. Önder started a campaign to fund successful students. By chance I applied to it. One of my friends told me about the campaign because I was in the village at the time. There were not many means...

    (pp. 99-112)

    There are approximately 300 Turkish university students in Sarajevo. Most of them are İhl graduates who came to Sarajevo as a result of the changes that were made to the rules governing İhl graduates’ university applications; but only twenty to thirty of them are önder students. There are three institutions of higher education in Sarajevo: the University of Sarajevo, the International Burch University and the International University of Sarajevo (ius). The University of Sarajevo is a Bosnian public university; International Burch University is a private university based in Turkey, which was founded by the Fethullah Gülen Community; and the ius...

    (pp. 113-118)

    Besides Vienna and Sarajevo, a number of other European cities host İhl graduate university students. However, İhl graduates’ activities are less highly organized in these cities. While a number of institutions clearly play a role in organizing students in Vienna and Sarajevo, the student presence is more individual and loosely tied in other places, such as Germany, the Netherlands, France, Hungary and Albania. Of these countries, I had the chance to conduct a limited number of interviews with İhl graduates in the Netherlands and Germany.

    To start with the Netherlands, the İhl graduates in the country whom I was able...

    (pp. 119-124)

    A news report on the Ihl graduates studying in Vienna, broadcast by the Turkish state television channel trt, described them as ‘young Turks, who have completed their studies, which they started with a lot of difficulty in Vienna, the capital of Austria, a place that was completely unknown to them when they left’. The report made no reference to their having graduated from İhls and the fact that they had been barred from continuing their studies in Turkish universities as a result of the policies of the Council for Higher Education (yök), nor to the fact that these policies have...

    (pp. 141-142)