Archive for the ‘QUOTE OF THE MONTH’ Category

Christopher R. Kilford (2016) “The development and future of Canadian–Turkish relations”, Canadian Foreign Policy Journal, Early Access, DOI:10.1080/11926422.2015.1083873.


Despite the passage of approximately 70 years of diplomatic relations between Canada and Turkey, the developmentresear1 of the relationship and its future have received little in the way of scholarly attention. This paper, therefore, examines the development of Canadian–Turkish relations and discusses how the relationship is likely to unfold.

The discussion begins with a review of the current literature and then focuses on the early years of the relationship in the Cold War period up until the 1983 election of Prime Minister Turgut Özal. This is followed by an examination of the post-1983 period and Canada’s contemporary relations with Turkey.

The paper argues that Turkey offers Canada long-term economic opportunities, but current domestic and regional challenges facing Ankara likely mean that bilateral relations will not accelerate in the near term.


Read Full Post »

Excerpt from Oğuzhan Göksel (2015) “In Search of a Non-Eurocentric Understanding of Modernization: Turkey as a Case of ‘Multiple Modernities’“, Mediterranean Politics, DOI:10.1080/13629395.2015.1092293

This article uses the Turkish case of modernity to critically examine different understandings of modernization put forward by competing schools of thought, namely the ‘classical modernization theory’ [CMT], the ‘neo-modernization theory’ [NMT] and the ‘multiple modernities paradigm’ [MMP]. In the context of modernization studies, Turkey has long held a special place as numerous scholars have studied this country in an attempt to validate the ‘convergence thesis’ – namely the idea that once a nonwestern society launches a secularization and/or an industrialization programme, its political regime and socio-economic life would eventually resemble its western counterparts. Firstly, the three theories are comparatively analysed by discussing how they perceive the concept of modernity and its interaction with religion, economic development and democratization. Then, the theories are reviewed in light of the Turkish experience. It is argued that the Turkish modernity can be best comprehended through the lens of the multiple modernities paradigm that challenges the Eurocentric assumption of classical modernization and neomodernization theories based on the convergence thesis.…

An alternative to mainstream views within modernization studies FMEDemerged in the 1990s and 2000s with the multiple modernities paradigm. Unlike its rivals, MMP refrains from offering an exclusionary definition of modernity based on characteristics of western societies. Instead, the theory defines modernization as the unpredictable process of change a society experiences (Eisenstadt, 2000; Wagner, 2000: 2012). Since it does not define a clear ‘destination’ for modernization such as liberal democracy and capitalist economy, its framework is highly inclusive and its arguments harder to challenge.

In contrast to the widespread usage of CMT and NMT, MMP has not yet been holistically applied to a multi-dimensional study of the historical modernization trajectory that produced Turkish modernity, a gap that this article aims to fill. Three noteworthy works analyse Turkish modernity through the lens of MMP: Nilüfer Göle (2002), İbrahim Kaya (2004) and Masoud Kamali (2005). All three scholars examine the discourse regarding the link between Islam and modernity on the Turkish example. In contrast to these earlier works that mainly focus on religious interpretation and the so-called concept of Islamic modernity, this work studies the origins of Turkish modernity as a whole by tracing the trajectory of economic, socio-political and institutional development processes in light of MMP.…

It is important to note that to further specify the research inquiry, the article focuses on the experience of the Republic of Turkey from its foundation in 1923 until 2013 and the legacy of the Ottoman Empire is not studied in detail– though it is acknowledged when necessary at certain instances as the modernization of the country began in the late Ottoman era. As the three cases of modernization refer to the study of macro-processes such as industrialization, urbanization, secularization and democratization, the focus of the article is on showing how these phenomena have evolved over the years. As such, even though micro-elements of modernization such as the evolution of party politics are referred to in relevant instances, they do not constitute the focal points of the work. This article aims to contribute to the literature through re-examining the competing theories in light of Turkish modernity, arguing that MMP is a more appropriate framework to explain the phenomenon of modernization in the non-western world than its rivals. As the originality of the work is based on conceptual interpretation, it makes no pretence to offering new data such as unused archives or interviews.…

The rise of economically developed societies within the non-western world is given as the main reason that led to the manifestation of various types of modernities that diverge from the western model:

“As an alternative to Western modernity, there is not one later modernity, but multiple later modernities; for example, those of Russia, China, Turkey and Japan. Although they share some basic features, for example the fact that reactions against Western dominance played a significant part in their emergence, their specific contexts meant that they differed from one another too.” (Kaya, 2004: 31) …

CMT and NMT have long assumed that development would necessarily produce liberal democracy and that developing non-western countries would gradually converge towards western modernity. Compared to its development level, however, Turkey has very low democratic standards, since economically less-developed countries such as Niger have been assessed to possess similar democratic standards to Turkey (Goldsmith, 2007: 90–91).

As such, Turkish modernity can be said to have more in common with cases such as Russia, China and Singapore that also diverged from western modernity: these countries are not liberal democracies today, despite having high levels of development in terms of the criteria used by CMT and NMT. As explained in this article, MMP fully envisages the divergence of non-western cases from western modernity. This indicates that the future of modernization studies lies with MMP as this alternative theory of modernity offers a more accurate depiction of the complex transformation processes experienced in cases such as Turkey by acknowledging the possibility of unexpected results.

Read Full Post »

Excerpt from Mehmet Ozkan & Serhat Orakci (2015) ‘Viewpoint: Turkey as a “political” actor in Africa – an assessment of Turkish involvement in Somalia’, Journal of Eastern African Studies, 9:2, 343-352, DOI: 10.1080/17531055.2015.1042629

The crisis of food security in Somalia in 2011 prompted an increase in Turkish involvement in Eastern AfricanRJEA_I_09_02_COVER_RJEA_I_09_02 politics. Initially started as a humanitarian response, Ankara’s policy has evolved into a fully fledged Somalia policy with political and social dimensions. This article discusses the role and influence of Turkey in efforts bringing stability to Somalia. It is argued that Turkey’s Somalia policy, as far as it has succeeded in short term, has not only located Turkey as a “political” actor in Africa but also expanded Turkey’s Africa policy into a more complex and multifaceted one. As such, Turkey’s experience in Somalia will have significant implications for its broader African agenda.

Between 2002 and 2014, Turkey increased the number of Turkish embassies on the continent from 12 to 39. Turkey’s official aid for Africa’s regional development surpassed increased from $3.8 million in 2004 to nearly $250 million in 2012.12 The growing presence of Turkish NGOs contributed to these improvements and has paved the way for Turkey’s future commitment to the continent. However, some view Turkey as concerned mostly with its own economy and industries, and many associate Turkey with a selfinterested approach to trade.13 For this reason, many African countries have been suspicious of Ankara’s maneuvers over the past decade.14 However, developments in recent years have signaled a new phase in the Turkish–African relationship, characterized by enhanced collaboration not only in Africa but also in the global arena.15 For example, South Africa and Turkey recently developed a relationship of close cooperation and introduced new dialogue mechanisms.16

The following recent developments further illustrate the depth of Turkish involvement in Africa. Turkey–Africa trade volume increased sixfold, from $3 billion dollars in 2000 to almost $23 billion dollars in 2012.17 The Turkish state organization Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) opened offices in Ethiopia, Sudan, Senegal, Somalia, Kenya, and Tunisia. Turkish Airlines introduced new flights to destinations in Africa, including Accra, Darussalam, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Khartoum, Addis Ababa, Lagos, and Mogadishu. Official Turkish delegations continue to visit Africa, and Turkey has hosted a variety of African delegations. Business unions have visited African countries and established new trade links. The Directorate for Religious Affairs (Diyanet) invites Muslim religious leaders from Africa to Istanbul for consultation every four years, and recently many Turkish universities have launched African research departments. It seems likely that Turkey’s involvement in Somalia will bolster its cooperation with other African countries and institutions…

Turkey has delivered around $500 million in aid to Somalia through its developmental and humanitarian projects.35 About 500 Turks are estimated to be based in Somalia. Turkey has reconstructed the Mogadishu airport, built schools, and constructed a 200-bed hospital in the capital. The Turkish General Directorate of State Hydraulic Works (DSI) has been digging wells, while TIKA renovated the old parliament building and constructed a road between the Mogadishu Airport and the city center. Turkey has also donated garbage trucks for Somalia’s waste management project. The Turkish Red Crescent (KIZILAY) has been supporting a refugee camp for 15,000 people. Some 1600 Somali students of different ages have received scholarships to attend Turkish schools.36

Diyanet is distributing copies of the Quran, sending local Imams to Turkey for training, and repairing ruined Somali mosques. In the capital, the Turkish Ministry of Health in cooperation with TIKA now runs the biggest hospital complex of Somalia, and Turkish health professionals and surgeons visit Mogadishu on rotation to train the Somalis in medical practice. Turkish Airlines (THY) has introduced direct flights from Istanbul to Mogadishu, in an effort to connect Somalia more closely with Turkey and the rest of the world. The Prime Ministry Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) coordinates transportation of construction and humanitarian materials between Istanbul and Mogadishu.

Many Turkish NGOs have been active in the country, especially in central and southern Somalia. Turkish NGOs have circumvented restrictions on foreign organizations by working with local Somalia NGOs to deliver aid and implement their projects in distressed areas, or in some cases coordinated their projects from their headquarters in Turkey. Doctors Worldwide took over operations at a new, advanced hospital in Mogadishu.37 The IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation is in the process of building the biggest orphanage complex on the Horn of Africa. The IHH has taken up the cause of Somali agriculture, and it has built wells and constructed irrigation channels to provide clean drinking water and increase agricultural capacity.38 Yardım Eli is building a 100-bed children’s hospital39 in Mogadishu, while Deniz Feneri runs another 10-bed hospital40 in the capital and is constructing an education center for women. Cansuyu offers projects for orphaned Somalis and is constructing a school.41 The Islamic identity of Turkish NGOs was essential to their ability to deliver humanitarian aid in 2011. On several occasions, Imams affiliated with al-Shabaab have criticized Turks as Western invaders in disguise, and the group has attacked Turkish interests multiple times since 2011.42 However, Turks have only rarely been targeted in violence by other Somali groups.43 Moreover, while al-Shabaab forbids foreign groups entry into its domains under militia control, it did permit Turkish NGOs to provide humanitarian relief through their local Somali partners. This privilege enhanced the status of Turkish NGOs in Somalia and may have indicated improvement in al-Shabaab’s attitude toward Turkey.44 As a result, Turkey was able to coordinate humanitarian projects with greater success than other countries.


  1. See Hasimi, “Turkey’s Humanitarian Diplomacy and Development Cooperation”.
  2. See Farrell, “Understanding Turkish involvement in Somalia”.
  3. See Ozkan, “A Post-2014 Vision for Turkey-Africa Relations”.
  4. Especially development of relations between Turkey and South Africa can be considered as this sort since 2010.
  1. “Güney Afrika vizesi kalkıyor”, Al-Jazeera Turk, 20 September 2011.
  2. See the Turkish Ministry of Economy website for trade figures.

  1. See Abukar Arman, “Erdogan: The Hero of Somalia”, 21 January 2015, Al-Jazeera, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2015/01/visit-erdogan-somalia-2015121124331818818.html
  1. See Aynte, “Turkey’s Increasing Role in Somalia”.
  2. See Richard Lough, “Turkey tries out soft power in Somalia”, Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/06/03/somalia-turkey-idUSL5E8GP2LP20120603 (accessed 15 December 2012).
  1. See “Somali halkına nitelikli tarım öğretiliyor”, İHH website, 6 June 2014, http://www.ihh.org.tr/tr/main/news/0/somali-halkina-nitelikli-tarim-ogretiliyor/2362 (accessed 6 April 2015).
  1. See “Somali hastanemizin kolonları bağlandı”, 26 February 2013, Yardımeli Derneği, http://www.yardimeli.org.tr/h=18601?somali-hastanemizin-kolonlari-baglandi#.VSOhdNysXQQ (accessed 6 April 2015).
  1. See “Deniz Feneri Somali’de kalıcı işler yapıyor”, Deniz Feneri Derneği, http://www.denizfeneri.org.tr/bagisci/afrika_137/somali_58/ (accessed 6 April 2015).
  1. See “Cansuyu Derneği Somali’ye okul yaptıracak”, 30 July 2012, Haberler.com, http://www.haberler.com/cansuyu-dernegi-somali-ye-okul-yaptiracak-3824336-haberi/ (accessed 6 April 2015).
  1. See Farrell, “Understanding Turkish Involvement in Somalia”.
  2. See “Somali’de bir Türk yaralandı”, Sabah, http://www.sabah.com.tr/Dunya/2012/10/03/somalide-bir-turk-yaralandi (accessed 09 April 2015).
  1. See Orakçı, “Somali’nin geleceği ve 2015 hedefleri”.

Read Full Post »

Excerpt from Faruk Yalvaç (2014) “Approaches to Turkish Foreign Policy: A Critical Realist Analysis”, Turkish Studies, 15:1, 117-138, DOI: 10.1080/14683849.2014.892238

Umut Uzer argues in his Identity and Turkish Foreign Policy that identities and ideologies as well as national interests are important in determining state behaviour (2011, p.9). Uzer states that the approach which he adopts is Turkish_Studiesan “eclectic” one whose argument falls somewhere between an identity-based constructivist analysis and a realist analysis. However, the argument suffers from trying to combine two diametrically opposed positions, namely, the rationalist epistemology of conventional constructivism (which provides a “framework of prediction for future Turkish behavior” Uzer 2011, p. 184, 186) and the subjectivist ontology of constructivism.

Criticizing Wendt’s model for failing to analyze the actors before interaction, Yucel Bozdaglıoglu (2003) offers another constructivist analysis of TFP that emphasizes the importance of the domestic construction of identities in explaining FP preferences and interests. Bozdaglıoglu stresses that identities are constructed before states interact with each other, explaining different foreign-policy stances by referencing differences in perceptions of Turkish identity among Turkey’s Kemalists, Islamists and Nationalists. He combines his analysis with a liberal–pluralist understanding of society, suggesting that “the state’s identity will emerge as a result of domestic struggles among various groups—each pressing for an identity that would conform to their identity conceptions;” however, he does not elaborate on the nature of these domestic struggles or how they relate to wider social relations. Similar to Uzer’s analysis, a state-centric constructivism is combined with a liberal understanding of the state as the arena where different group conflicts are solved, and foreign policy is explained by the “different cultural backgrounds and identity conceptions” of different groups and institutions (Uzer 2011, p. 7, 27, 25). However identity formation is defined in culturalist terms, without an explanation of how identities are related to concrete social power relations.

One problem that all these constructivist accounts share is that they fail to discuss how identities are translated into state power, nor is it so clear that identity-based foreign policy is based less on geopolitical considerations leading, for instance, to different policies when and if security of a state is at stake. Can Turkey be said to be following a less state-interested policy today due to its changing social identity?… Similar to constructivists, poststructuralists see the world in terms of inter-subjective praxes and human actions and understandings, rather than objective material social relations…

The poststructuralist discourse in TFP analysis focuses on how different foreign policy practices are constructed through different discourses. The emphasis is on the deconstruction of different discursive structures, challenging binary oppositions and demonstrating the instability of meanings attached to the discourses. In one example of a poststructuralist analysis of TFP, Senem Aydın Duzgit, in her analysis of European Union (EU)–Turkish relations, defines foreign policy “as a discursive practice,” (2011) arguing along the lines of Roxanne Doty (1993; Laffey 2000) that foreign-policy actors “produce meanings” through discourse and “actively construct the reality on which foreign policy is based.”(Doty 1993, p.52).

Other scholars have also attempted to use post-structural approaches to understand how the discourses against Turkey’s membership of the EU are constructed (Tekin 2008; see also Yilmaz 2007). In an analysis bringing together post-structural and post-colonial approaches, Bahar Rumelili discusses the construction of “Turkey as a liminal subject” “which eludes the identity categories constituted by discourses on international politics, such as, Western/non-Western, developed/under-developed, democratic/ non-democratic.” (Rumelili 2012, p. 496). Turkey’s liminal status is described as “being in but not of Europe.” This is meant to demonstrate “how social categories constituted by the discourses of international politics are inevitably negotiated, contested and ultimately transversed by actors positioned in liminal spaces.” (Rumelili 2012, p. 500).

Similarly, Lerna Yanık analyses the “discursive formation of exceptionalism” in TFP and “illustrate[s] how historical and geographical features of a country are used discursively to construct an exceptional identity that in turn justifies and rationalizes foreign policy actions.” (2011, p. 82, 87). Despite its radical claims, this form of analysis is based on an acceptance of the traditional domestic/international distinction, replicating this in a discursive analysis. Thus, Yanık notes a contradiction between the discourse on exceptionalism in foreign policy and the domestic Kemalist nation-building project based on the “idea of purity” of a nation. From the emergent perspective of critical realism, this contradiction between domestic and foreign-policy practices can be traced back to the same social relations and processes without being reduced to them and therefore they stop appearing to be contradictory. Therefore, the contradiction can be resolved if the domestic and the international “levels” can be seen to arise from similar social processes and conditions. This, however, would imply a different ontological starting point, that of social relations rather than the discursive practices that are rooted in those relations.

Ali Balcı’s analysis of TFP most closely follows a “poststructuralist line”(2010). As is often the case in post-structural writings that criticize modernist approaches to the state and foreign policy, his analysis is based on a criticism of the internal/external divide. Similar to other poststructuralists such as Walker and Weber, he deconstructs this as a myth whereby the state “imposes specific meanings” on who is inside and who is outside. Foreign policy “does not have an a priori reality, but is a constructed myth;” it is a “strategy” that involves “internal power relations” (p. 87, 88, 89, 91). As with Yucel, Balcı takes the construction of identities as dependent upon different power relations inside; however, what these power relations are and how they are constructed is not clearly analyzed. Despite their different starting points, both Balcı and Yucel possess a liberal–pluralist understanding of the state as an arena of power struggle without relating power relations to a structural context of state–society relations. If foreign policy is a myth, then the circumstances that “produce” this myth need to be understood. Moreover, although Balcı underlines the importance of power relations in the formation of identities, he ignores more concrete social relations such as the relations of property and production out of which these power relations emerge and how they are translated into state policies. Thus, as Joseph might argue, Balcı’s “critique is deconstructive but not ontological,” (2004, p. 150, 158) ignoring how power relations emerge and are formed within a structural context and as an outcome of social processes. In contrast, Balcı’s analysis reduces power to a performative strategy (Ashley 1987, p. 51) or to its exercise. This argument lacks “an adequate notion of social stratification and hierarchy,” and assumes “a flat ontology that remains at the level of the surface play of power relations” (2004, p. 154, 159).


Ashley, Richard K. “Foreign Policy as Political Performance.” International Studies Notes 13 (1987): 51–54.

Balcı, Ali. “1990 Sonrası Turk Dıs¸ Politikası Uzerine Bazı Notlar: Avrupa Birligi ve Kıbrıs Ornegi.” In Turkiye’nin Degisen Dıs Politikası, edited by Cuneyt Yenigun and Ertan Efegil, 87–99. Istanbul: Nobel Yayın Dagıtım, 2010.

Bozdaglıoglu, Yucel. Turkish Foreign Policy and Turkish Identity: A Constructive Approach. New York and London: Routledge, 2003.

Doty, Roxanne L. “Foreign Policy as a Social Construction: A Post-Positivist Analysis of US Counterinsurgency Policy in the Philippines.” International Studies Quarterly 37, no. 3 (1993): 297–320.

Duzgit, Senem A. “Avrupa Birligi-Turkiye Iliskilerine Postyapısalcı Yaklasım: Almanya Orneginde Dıs Politika ve Soylem Analiz.” Uluslararası Iliskiler 8, no. 29 (2011): 49–70.

Joseph, Jonathan. “Foucault and Reality.” Capital and Class 28, no. 1 (2004): 143–165.

Laffey, Mark. “Locating Identity: Performativity, Foreign Policy and State Action.” Review of International Studies 26, no. 3 (2000): 429–444.

Rumelili, Bahar. “Liminal Identities and Processes of Domestication and Subversion in International Relations.” Review of International Studies 38 (2012): 495–508.

Tekin, Beyza Çagatay. “The Construction of Turkey’s Possible EU Membership in French Political Discourse.” Discourse and Society 19, no. 6 (2008): 727–763.

Uzer, Umit. Identity and Turkish Foreign Policy. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

Yanık, Lerna K. “Constructing Turkish ‘Exceptionalism’: Discourses of Liminality and Hybridity in Post-Cold War Turkish Foreign Policy.” Political Geography 30, no. 2 (2011): 59–114.

Yılmaz, Hakan. “Turkish Identity on the Road to the EU: Basic Elements of French and German Oppositional Discourses.” Journal of Southern Europe and the Balkans 9, no. 3 (2007): 293–305.

Read Full Post »

Ziya Öniş (2015) ‘Monopolising the Centre: The AKP and the Uncertain Path of Turkish Democracy’, The International Spectator: Italian Journal of International Affairs, 50:2, 22-41

“The future of hybrid democracies is characterised by a significant degree of uncertainty. They may evolve in theint spectator direction of democratic deepening and the consolidation of liberal democratic norms. At the same time, they may move in the opposite direction and degenerate into competitive authoritarianism. Following the historic presidential elections of August 2014, a state of uncertainty lingers. Both pessimistic and optimistic scenarios for the future can be envisaged.

There are considerable grounds for pessimism following the comfortable victory of Prime Minister Erdoğan (52 percent of the vote), which enabled him in the midst of a relatively low turnout to win the presidential race in the first round. Turkey continues to be highly divided and polarised, as was also the case in the municipal elections of March 2014. Whilst large segments of Turkish society greeted Erdoğan’s victory with great enthusiasm, an equally large part of Turkish society, especially the more secular and Western-oriented segments, felt deeply disappointed and have fundamental concerns regarding the future course of Turkish democracy. On the part of the opposition, there is also the fear that Erdoğan will not be the old-style president acting in a consensual and neutral style.

Judging from his record up to now, it is more likely that he will be a highly proactive and interventionist president who will use all the powers at his disposal to control his party, continuing to shape the future of Turkish politics and foreign policy. His presidential term may well be accompanied by an even greater concentration and monopolisation of power at the centre, should a constitutional reform process in the direction of a presidential system be achieved. This would effectively mean increasing the marginalisation of the opposition and voices of dissent in Turkish society. The likely outcome of this scenario is an increasingly conservative Turkish society, made more homogeneous through widespread social and political engineering on an even more extensive scale than has been the case so far, with the consequence that large parts of the population feel increasingly alienated and have hardly any role in shaping Turkey’s political future.

Whilst a continued drift towards the institutionalisation of competitive authoritarianism remains a serious possibility, there are also reasons to be more optimistic about the future of Turkish democracy in the medium term. These are based on the following set of propositions. First, Erdoğan did not win the presidential race by a sufficient margin to be able to push a constitutional reform in the direction of a presidential system through parliament. Given the difficulties in achieving a new presidential system through a new constitution or constitutional amendment, he is more likely to be forced to operate within the parameters of the existing parliamentary system. This will act as a constraint on his interventionist powers.

Second, his ability to control his party from a distance is curtailed. He will have to work with the new party leader and prime minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu. Davutoğlu has already demonstrated, during his tenure as foreign minister from 2009 to 2014, that he has a strong personality with a strategic vision for Turkey’s growing role in international affairs. He is not likely to accept a caretaker role, even though the two leaders may share similar visions of Turkey’s domestic political transformation in a more conservative direction. This may create unexpected problems of conflict and the need to share power.

Third, in the post-Erdoğan phase, the AKP may be exposed to new rivalries and growing intra-party competition. This could shift the course of the party in a more moderate direction–under a different leadership–rather reminiscent of the early reformist days of AKP rule. Change originating from within the AKP will probably be the most important avenue for revitalising Turkish democracy, given that the party is likely to remain the hegemonic force in Turkey for some time to come (barring the possibility of a major economic crisis).

On top of this, Erdoğan in his presidential role may adopt a different perspective. Since he no longer has any elections to win, he could concentrate his energy on issues which could have widespread appeal to large segments of society, beyond his own electorate. Institutionalising the Kurdish peace process and achieving a durable peace is likely to emerge as one of his priority objectives in this context.

The presidential office could also be the medium for rebuilding the international popularity he seems to have lost in recent years and projecting the image of a leader who is not simply a successful politician, but a statesman, a person able to resolve major domestic and regional conflicts.

This brings us to a central point: there is currently a gap between Turkey’s internal democratic deficit and its ambition to play a major democracy promotion role as a leading regional power. Over time, this may lead to a growing realisation on the part of Erdoğan, Davutoğlu and the AKP elites that Turkey’s potential as a role model will seriously depend on its ability to establish and consolidate liberal democracy at home, irrespective of whether this is accompanied by full EU membership.” (pp.37-39).

Read Full Post »

Excerpt from Stefano Allievi (2009) Conflicts over Mosques in Europe: Policy issues and trends – NEF Initiative on Religion and Democracy in Europe, Network of European Foundations, p.11.

Islam and Europe: stages of approximation

Phase 1: Islam and Europe A long first stage, lasting for at least the first ten centuries of the history of Islam, was one of major conflicts (analysed as such, however, only at a later date), symbolized by the Crusades, which saw Islam and (Christian) Europe facing one another, conceived and perceived as mutually impenetrable and self‑referencing. All this was in spite of reality and history, which show how permeability and exchange (of philosophical ideas, scientific concepts, and artistic forms, as well as economic and trading links) were more the norm than the exception.

Phase 2: Europe in Islam In the second phase, we see European dominance of Islamic lands (the most powerfulconflictfront symbolic moment of this was the Napoleonic expedition to Egypt in 1798). First, in the age of empires and the colonial period, Europe dominated Muslim countries directly. Later, during the ongoing stage of neo‑ or post‑colonial influence ‘at a distance’ – through economic globalization, the pervasiveness of the mass media and western consumption patterns – Europe has gradually brought the Muslim world within transnational economic trends and political institutions.

Phase 3: Islam in Europe In a third, more recent phase, Islam began to spread in Europe through migration. This began in France, for example, between the two world wars, and in most European countries during the period of postwar reconstruction and economic boom – in the 1950s and 1960s in the centre and north, and later still, from the late 1970s onwards, in southern Europe. It is still a phase characterized mainly by first‑generation immigrants coming from former colonies (from Algeria to France, for instance, and from the Indian subcontinent to Great Britain), but there are also new forms of immigration (such as Turks coming to Germany), which gradually expand as more and more countries export labour in response to European demand.

Phase 4: the Islam of Europe In a fourth phase we observe the emergence and consolidation of an Islam of Europe, through a gradual process of insertion, manifested in the processes of integration – initially in the workplace, then in a social and sometimes political context – and of generational transition. Together, these contribute to the formation of a middle class and an intelligentsia of Islamic origin: one that still has relations with the countries of origin, but which does not come from outside, and is born and socialized in Europe – self‑formed and forced or encouraged to build its own identity and its own space.

Phase 5: European Islam The result of this process should be the formation of a genuine European Islam, with its own pronounced identity different from that of Arabic Islam or that of other countries and cultural areas of origin. This Islam is (and even more in the future will be seen to be) a native European movement, largely the result of a gradual and substantial process of ‘citizenization’ of Muslims residing in Europe, who look forward to the prospect of full rights on an equal footing with other Europeans, with whom they share a common destiny. Of this phase, for now just given in outline, one cannot say much, except that its outcome will depend on the internal evolution of Muslim communities and their populations; on the dynamics of global Islam; and, perhaps most importantly, on the reactions and policies adopted towards them by the governments of individual European countries, which will in turn be influenced by their political parties and public opinion. In a word, the outcome will depend largely on non‑Muslims, on the manner in which they approach the problem, on discussions of the issue, and on the fears and visions of the wider world.

Today, most European countries find themselves somewhere between the third and fourth phases, although there are some hints of the beginning of the fifth phase, which will become more visible in the years and decades to come… Like all social phenomena, these cannot be generalized, and show elements of complexity, contradiction and ambiguity.

Read Full Post »

Excerpt from Ayhan Kaya (2014) ‘Islamisation of Turkey under the AKP Rule: Empowering Family, Faith and Charity’, South European Society and Politics, DOI: 10.1080/13608746.2014.979031

Unlike its predecessors, conservative political parties like the Democrat Party (DP), Motherland Party (ANAP), and unnamedTrue Path Party (DYP), the AKP claims to represent excluded societal values, such as Islamic values, and to return these values to power. The aim is to create a perception of resemblance between the lifestyle of the nation and that of those occupying political power (Saracoglu 2011, p. 44). Rather than using an elitist jargon in their everyday language, the leaders of the AKP have always been very meticulous in using language that is also used by the masses. The use of slang by AKP leaders is very common…

Furthermore, the AKP successfully employed a very strong political discourse of victimisation to mobilise the masses around its own political and societal agenda. Continuing the former Milli Gorus¸ line, the party elite often represented Muslims as having been victimised by the Kemalist–laicist regime since the beginning of the Republic in the early 1920s. In this regard, laicism was always regarded and represented by pro-Islamist political parties, including the AKP, as anti-Islam and anti-religion…

The AKP has not only lifted the headscarf ban in higher education and popularised the Imam Hatip Schools, but also Islamised the national curriculum through the addition of certain optional courses at secondary school level, and with the transformation of the school textbooks on Religious Culture and Morality in 2007 and 2008 (Turkmen 2009). In 2012, a new regulation was introduced increasing compulsory education from eight to 12 years (Law No. 6287)…

In April 2012, together with the extension of compulsory education from eight to 12 years, a new structure was introduced (four years of primary school plus four years of secondary school, then four years of high school). The amended Education Law allows families the flexibility to choose among different types of secondary schools, including general and vocational schools and religious Imam Hatip schools (Karakas¸ et al. 2014). However, secular families and various civil society organisations, such as the Education Reform Initiative (ERG), the Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen Association (TUSIAD), and the Women Entrepreneurs Association of Turkey (KAGIDER), have a different perspective. They maintain the new law is an attempt to Islamise primary education through the growing number of Islamic-based optional courses (ERG 2013). Also in 2012, two optional courses for years 6 to 8, Civic Education (Vatandaslık ve Demokrasi Egitimi) and Agriculture (Tarım), were removed from the curriculum while three religion-based courses were introduced: Quran (Kur’an-ı Kerim), Prophet Muhammad’s Life (Hz. Muhammed’in Hayatı), and Fundamentals of Religion (Temel Dini Bilgiler)…

The AKP still attracts almost half the voters. In the presidential elections of August 2014, Erdogan won an absolute majority in the first round and became the new president, replacing Gul. For some, the attraction of the AKP springs from their faith-based approach towards Erdogan, even perceiving him as the ‘last Prophet’; for others, what primarily matters is the profit-based local politics of the AKP, continuing the process of capital accumulation which dates back to the early days of AKP rule. Whatever the motives of AKP voters are, it is clear that Turkish society has become even more polarised along societal and political divides of secularism and Islamism. Turkish democracy is on the verge of creating new societal and political alliances to come to terms with the growing impact of Islamisation. In fact, such alliances have been experienced on different occasions. An example was the nomination of a joint candidate for the 2014 presidential election by the two main opposition parties.

Another critical moment, partly meant to be the formation of a societal alliance against the neoliberal governance and Islamisation rhetoric of the AKP rule, was the #Occupygezi movement. The movement – or rather the moment – took place in Istanbul and the rest of Turkey in June 2013, and lasted around three weeks. Similar to predecessors such as Tahrir Square, Occupy Wall Street, and Indignado movements in Europe, the #Occupygezi protests provided some segments of the Turkish society with a prefigurative form of politics, symbolising a rejection in all walks of life of Erdogan’s vanguardism and engineering of the lifeworlds of Turkish citizens.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: