Posts Tagged: Turkey

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This is the 20. article in our series Trouble on the­ Far-Right. For more information on the series, please click here.
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?

by Hakim Khatib

Practicing politics within religious frameworks is more likely to increase states‘ fragility. While employing religious references in political discourses could foster positive outcomes such as avoiding dangerous eruptions of violence under authoritarian regimes, it could also increase the space for political and religious elites to instrumentalise religion for their own interests. Such patterns of instrumentalisation are more common in the Middle East; especially the dominant religion in the region is Islam, which enjoys a decentralised mode of function.

Political Instrumentalisation of Islam means ‚Islam‘ serves as a means of pursuing a political aim or relating to Islam’s function as a means to a political end. Like the Marxist theory views the state and social organisations as tools taken advantage of by the ruling class or by individuals in their own interests, Islam seems to function as a tool exploited by the powerful elites or individuals in their own interests.

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