Saturday, July 28, 2007

Turkey's Re-Islamification

It's a bit of a deep read, but this story about Turkey's re-emerging Islamism is worth it. It's good to be reminded that Turkey was once at the heart of the Ottoman Empire, which as I remember was involved in (the wrong side of) WWI.

Some quotes:

The ruling AK (Adalet ve Kalkınma) Party’s resounding popular electoral victory July 27, 2007 over its closest “secularist” rival parties—the CHP (Cumhuriyet Halk) and MHP (Milliyetçi Hareket) receiving 20% and 15% of the vote, respectively, to the AKP’s 47%—is further evidence of Turkey’s steady re-Islamization. Indeed this trend dates literally to the first election during which Turkish voters were offered any option other than one party rule under Ataturk’s CHP—in 1950, when Menderes’ Demokrat Party (DP) pursued a successful electoral strategy by pandering to an Islamic “re-awakening.”

And Bernard Lewis had predicted just such a path in the 1950's:

…the deepest Islamic roots of Turkish life and culture are still alive, and the ultimate identity of Turk and Muslim in Turkey is still unchallenged. The resurgence of Islam after a long interval responds to a profound national need. The occasional outburst of the tarikas [Sufi “dervish” orders], far more than the limited restoration of official Islam, show how powerful are the forces stirring beneath the surface. The path that the revival will take is still not clear. If simple reaction has its way, much of the work of the last century will be undone, and Turkey will slip back into the darkness from which she painfully emerged.

There's much more there. Set aside a half hour or so, and read it. Important stuff.

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