Logo: Strike a Light by Rob Howard under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
by Laura Lotte Laloire
Just a few days ago during a parliamentary session, a Kurdish deputy was violently attacked and injured by members of the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP). As if to support Charles Tilly’s statement that ‘political violence occurs when actors have few opportunities, yet enough resources to mobilize for violence’1, many groups in Turkey are currently involved in a battle against Kurdish, Alevi or left Turkish citizens. The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a political stalemate, uses military and police, but also the Nationalist Movement Party’s (MHP) youth organization Grey Wolves as well as Islamist militias like Esedullah Timleri (Arabic for: Lions of Allah) have increasingly resorted to violence as tool of action.
Political violence has been a central characteristic of the Turkish far right, which largely resembles street-based mobilization in Western Europe. Despite the common ultra-nationalist ideology, the Gülen Movement (GM) stands out. AKP’s former “soft-power instrument” now appears to be the only reasonable and non-violent player among all of these self-named animal groups. Since the power struggle escalated between Erdoğan and Fethullah Gülen in 2013, the GM has been seen as a victim of Erdoğan’s repressive measures, instead of making itself conspicuous by using violence. How can we explain this exception?