Politics of religion in turkey from national view to the justice and development party



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POLITICS OF RELIGION IN TURKEY FROM NATIONAL VIEW TO THE JUSTICE AND DEVELOPMENT PARTY

Asst. Prof. Hakan Köni

Çankırı Karatekin University,

Political Science & Public Administration,

&

Meryem Açıkgöz



Senior Undergraduate Student

Çankırı Karatekin University,

Political Science & Public Administration

Abstract
This article scrutinizes the change in the ideological orientation of the Turkish religious right regarding the importance given to religion in various party goals and policies. The major argument and finding of the article is that while the National View parties attributed great importance to religion in their political, social and economic policies, the later Justice and Development Party has appeared as a comparatively moderate party with relatively limited reference to religious politics. The National View was motivated to bring about a religious society in all social, economic and political terms, reaching to calls for the establishment of an Islamic sharia regime in occasions. The Justice and Development Party’s engagement with religious politics has been limited with attempts to introduce rights and liberties for its conservative electorate in line with the norms and provisions of human rights, rule of law and democracy. The idea of leading the country into a total transformation in religious terms promoted by the National View is abandoned with the advance of the Justice and Development Party.
Keywords: National View, Political Islam, Justice and Development Party, Secularism


  1. Introduction

This article analyzes the programmatic change of the parties of the Turkish religious right regarding the importance given to religion. The list of parties examined for this purpose includes the National Order Party (Milli Nizam Partisi), National Salvation Party (Milli Selamet Partisi), Welfare Party (Refah Partisi), Virtue Party (Fazilet Partisi) and the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi). The first four of these parties – NOP, NSP. WP and VP – will be referred as the National View in this article after the nomination of their leader Necmettin Erbakan. The article argues that while the idea of serving to religion was a major motivation of the National View movement in all its social, political and economic policies, The Justice and Development Party’s (JDP) relationship with religion has been relatively limited.


The limits of Islamic politics in National View ranged between a concept of religion as a belief system guaranteed by national and international provisions of freedom of belief and conscience, and another one as a source of government. The movement has traditionally been an object of reaction by the secularist groups in Turkey particularly because of its activities related with the latter group of actions.
The JDP, however, declares its distance from the idea of establishing a religious state. It manifests its loyalty to contemporary political norms and principles inherited from the west. As a part of its conservative roots, the party has run an ambitious campaign to introduce certain rights and freedoms for its conservative supporters particularly on issues of headscarf, Imam-Hatip schools and Quran Courses, but it has been extremely cautious not to violate the constitutional principle of secularism.



  1. National View Movement

The National View was the leading actor of the Turkish religious right from 1970s to late 1990s. The movement was engaged in attempts to transform the sociopolitical and economic face of the country with a characteristically Islamic one. This was propagated in the programs of the successive parties of the movement as well as in electoral campaigns, publications, and speeches prepared by the movement.





    1. Secularism in National View

The National View had a very critical view of the type of secularism adopted by the state elites. Accordingly, secularism was a source of oppression in the country rather than freedom. While secularism was supposed to serve as a guarantee of freedom of religion and belief, that was exactly the thing that the Turkish secularism was prohibiting. As a result, the women wearing headscarf in their photos were denied from public services requiring photographic identification. A sizable number of Prayer Leader and Preacher Schools built since 1982 were not permitted to open despite high demand by the public. It was not permitted to go for Pilgrimage through ground transportation. Only air travel was possible and it was too expensive as known. And there were legal barriers against religious life, education and travel similarly (Erbakan, 1994: 78-83; NOP Party Program: Article 6; Erbakan, 1975a: 49-56; WP Party Program: Article 4; Öniş, 1997: 754).


Turkey was one of two countries in the world where the word secularism was cited in its constitution, the other one being France. Many western countries incorporated statements in their constitutions regarding the official religion of the state. Turkish secularism was a very cheap imitation of the West which never gave the right of the principle. While secularism had to mean the separation of religion and state, religion was rather taken under the control of the state in Turkey. It was the goal of the National View movement to introduce reforms for a more clear and accurate definition of secularism that would not leave any space for erroneous applications (Erbakan, 1994: 78-83; Erbakan, 1975b: 153-155).
To this end, the WP prepared a constitutional amendment package to make some changes in the articles of the constitution related with secularism. In the package, a multiple system of law was offered incorporating secular and non-secular laws at the same time: It was a basic human right to have a multiple system of law (Refah Partisi: 4). The word secular (laik) in Article 2 of the Constitution was to be removed and the concept of secularism described in Article 24 was to be replaced with a softer understanding of secularism. Freedoms were to be introduced to follow, express, promulgate, learn and teach religious beliefs and ideas. People were supposed to live and organize according to their religion (Refah Partisi: 70, 79). The Article 4 of the Constitution on the immutability of the secularist principle of the state was to be removed (Refah Partisi: 71). And the provision in Article 24 prohibiting the change of social, economic, political or legal order of the state with a religious one was to be dropped (Refah Partisi: 79-80; Saybaşılı, 1998: 40-43).
The National View was opposed to the article 163 of the Turkish Penal Code prohibiting the public use of religious themes by the politicians. This article was based on an assumption that people were ignorant and very open to manipulation without any ability to reason. Everyone was supposed to have the right to express his ideas and to hear the views of others. And they had to be free with their independent choices. This provision of the Penal Code was in contradiction with the constitutional rights of the citizens to freedom of thought and expression (Erbakan, 1975a: 54-56).
According to the National View, behind the rigidity of Turkish secularism, there was the idea adopted by the Turkish state elites that religion was against reason, science and progress. According to the National View, Islam was indeed in the origins of the material and spiritual sciences both. Many of modern sciences and areas of knowledge like astronomy, physics, chemistry, mathematics, medicine, history and geography had been developed by earlier Muslim scholars. The sciences inherited from the ancient Egypt, India, Greece were translated, studied, advanced and systematized by the Muslims to be exported to the West through various channels of interaction. For the National View, contrary to the idea that religion promoted ignorance and backwardness, religion was indeed the source of material and spiritual perfection (Erbakan, 1975a: 67-82; Erbakan, 2006: 15-20).



    1. Education

The party attached a great importance to religion in all levels of education. The essentials of party goals related with the education of religion and morality included the removal of elements of materialist education in favor of a moral, acceptable and pragmatist educational curriculum; attachment of greater importance to courses of religion and morality; and expansion of the number and type of Imam-Hatip schools and faculties of theology. The movement would campaign to

bring up new generations proud of their great and glorious history, loyal to their past, traditions and customs with respect and faithfulness, distant from all types of imitation, aware of their national character and always determıned to do better than the day before (Erbakan, 1975a: 92-93).
The National View was very critical of the educational system in Turkey which was argued to be materialist. In sociology and psychology lessons, the students were exposed to a heavily atheist and anti-religious learning. According to the present curricula, the origins of the man were traced to the apes. Religion was a fabrication. It was produced under fears from some natural events like fires, floods, earthquakes. Kaaba was initially an imitation of ancient Greeks who had filled in the Acropolis with the idols they had been worshipping. Accordingly, the emergence of a faith based on belief in one God was a product of social evolution from these traditions. For the National View, these teachings had nothing to do with science and reality (Erbakan, 1975a: 93-95; Erbakan, 1975b: 16-19).
As a product of this materialist education, a generation of people had grown up with contempt for Turkish moral, social, cultural and historical values. There was a remarkable decline in moral standards: Chastity (iffet) as the basis of a healthy family and social life was neglected. The youth were growing disrespectful of their elderly people. The schools had turned to hot beds of anarchy and terrorism due to radical leftist currencies of thought. The National View would give an end to these by promoting education of religion and morality in schools. That would be one of the most effective weapons against social and political disorder in the country. This would also help to produce a citizenry loyal to their country, and honest and incorruptible in the economic life (Erbakan, 1975a: 90-97; Erbakan, 1976: 19-22; NOP Party Program, Articles 19-26; NSP Party Program: Articles 65-73). The leading spiritual member of Turkish religious right Zahit Kotku was saying that

(A Muslim) refrains from sins, ill-gotten (haram) and prohibited things. He tries to acquire superb virtues like mercy, compassion, love, respect, brotherhood, communitarianism, intimacy, generosity, chastity and innumerable other qualities.


A child is no different from an animal in its birth. It lives with its salacity and lust like animals. It does not have its reason yet. When he reaches to his adolescence, he is given a choice between good and bad; angel and devil to become a dignified or a miserable and lowly being. (Kotku, 171-173)
The sources of this educational policy of the National View was finding its place in Articles 10 and 14 of 1961 Constitution which stipulated that the state prepares necessary conditions for material and spiritual development of the people and that every citizen has the right to develop his material and spiritual being. And similarly, freedom of expression, thought, belief and conscience was guaranteed with Articles 11, 19, 22, 26, 29 of the Constitution (Erbakan, 1975a: 92; NSP Party Program: Articles 65-73).
When it was introduced to the government, the National View was promising that minimum hours of religious courses would be increased, their time would not be shifted to night time after normal school hours; those who attended to those courses would not be persecuted by leftists teachers; and the number of Imam-Hatip Schools, Faculties of Theology, and Islamic Graduate Schools would be increased much as the number of universities of technical and general sciences. The scientific competency and qualifications of Imam Hatip Schools and Islamic Graduate Schools would be developed upon needs and necessities. In addition, personnel of the Directorate of Religious Affairs would be rewarded in terms of their material and spiritual conditions (Erbakan, 1975a: 92-93; Erbakan, 1975b: 14-25; Erbakan, 1976: 22-25).



    1. Economy and Development

National View put a strong emphasis on religious and moral values in economic life. A high standard of morality would serve to the well-functioning of the economy by ensuring the loyalty and integrity of the people. At the same time, there was a broad area of interactions in the economy not regulated by the laws that could work only with the adoption of superb moral principles on the part of the citizens (Erbakan, 1975a: 109-111).


The National View argued that Islam had a distinct economic system with clear lines of separation from communist and capitalist economies. Contrary to the communist economies, Islamic economy was not the enemy of the private property. Ownership of the private property was promoted and rights of the people were inviolable thereto. Entrepreneurialism was encouraged because the wealth it generates was the road to perfection in many material and spiritual things. Capitalism, secondly, was contaminated with various spiritual illnesses like extravagance, luxury, self-preservation and gratification. They were also associated with a set of macro scale problems like interest, inflation, unemployment, income disparity and poverty (Erbakan, 1975a: 149-157; Erbakan, 1975b: 66-77; NOP Party Program, Articles 48-50; WP Party Program: Article 19). The leading spiritual leader to the party Zahit Kotku was stating:

For good and all, contentment (kanaat) is an interminable treasure. It is the source of peace in this and the other world. Discontentment and cupidity are two disasters which remove all the peace and safety from the society… The money gained from interest, gambling and such things does not bring anything except ravage. Contentment is a superb virtue (Kotku, 1994: 42-43).


The “just economic order” of the National View movement pointed out to five diseases of the Turkish economy that had to be treated for a viable and promising economy. These diseases were interest, unjust taxation, money printing, currency exchange and present banking system. First of these, interest, was the major reason for high inflation, poverty, and social unrest. The interest was the process of making money through the trade of money rather than production. The interest was making the poor poorer while the rich was getting richer. The right thing was the process of earning money through production and manufacturing. The National View would remove the concept of interest from the Turkish economy (Erbakan, 1975a: 152-157; Erbakan, 1991: 22-27; Öniş, 1997: 754). Investment in stock markets would be an alternative to interest. The trade of bonds and securities was a real trade. This system would be developed in Turkey to replace the present banking system. Though the money would be collected in the banks again, it would be invested in production (Erbakan, 1975a: 152-157).
Regarding the present tax policy, secondly, it was noted that the state was extracting taxes from a list of goods and services though it was not engaged in their production. In addition, the rich was obliged to pay a higher ratio of taxes. The National View would therefore reform all the tax law. As for money printing, it was no different than stealing the money of the people when it was done without any material property to match it. That was major reason for inflation and poverty as well (Erbakan, 1991: 24-25).
The problem with the banking system was that it was based on earning revenues with high interest rates. Instead of investing the money in interest, the national view would transfer it to the development of industrial capacity, infrastructure and other types of investments. Due to high interest rates, the tradesmen, industrialist, businessmen and the farmers were facing the problem of rising costs. This was inhibiting production, employment and leading to devaluation and inflation. In a just economic system, banks would be integrated to a system of profit sharing by which they would establish joint ventures with entrepreneurs to be directly involved in production. This would decrease the cost of production and also the inflation (Erbakan, 1975a: 152-157; Erbakan, 1975b: 78-81).



    1. The Welfare Party Bill of Indictment for Closure

The National Salvation Party was closed down after 1980 military intervention on account of turning to a center for anti-secular activities. The successor Welfare Party established in 1985 was to introduce a more radical party organization, however. The party was accused of trying to introduce an Islamic sharia regime. Until its closure in 1998 by the Constitutional Court, the party had broadened its electoral base and radicalized its party program yet to be interrupted by the Turkish Armed Forces. According to the Public Prosecutor, the Welfare Party was in violation of the secularist principle of the Turkish Republic and was attempting to establish an Islamic sharia regime.


If we are to have a short look at some of the accusations in the Bill of Indictment, to have an idea about the character of the accusations offered, in a speech on 23 March 1993 in the national assembly, the head of the Welfare Party Necmettin Erbakan was stating that every citizen had to be able to live in a system of law they preferred. There had to be a multiple system of law that could be used by members of different social and religious groups. On 13 April 1999, in a party group meeting in the Assembly, he was saying that Just Order would be instituted in peace or with bloodshed, kindly or by use of force. All the means would be used for this matter. It was the people of Turkey who would decide it and Welfare Party would use power when it was necessary (Refah Partisi Kapatma Davası, 1998: 32).



    1. Other Controversial Issues

There was a list of other issues not included in the Bill of Indictment inciting opposition from other members of the state elites. The heavy anti-alcohol campaign of the party was one of them. The party had introduced strict regulations against alcohol sale in public restaurants. Secondly, some party members were engaged in actions like the removal of Atatürk sculptures and pictures from various public places (Karakaş, 2007: 24-25; Mecham, 2004: 344). Thirdly, soon after his appointment as the prime minister, Necmettin Erbakan had met with representatives of Egyptian Muslim Brothers, an organization devoted to the introduction of Islamic states and societies in the world. Erbakan was similarly inviting leaders of religious communities to the residence of prime minister for various purposes. Fourthly, the WP was trying to recruit graduates of Imam Hatip schools at military schools (Karakaş, 2007: 26). Some other issues concerned WP’s attempts to build a mosque in Taksim square, to change working hours in accordance with Ramadan, and to change the roadside marks in big cities to reflect an Islamic view (Öniş, 2001: 286; Mecham, 2004: 343).





  1. The Justice and Development Party

The JDP has adapted a more moderate party program and set of goals compared to its predecessor National View movement. The JDP has declared in its establishment that it is opposed to any attempts to introduce an Islamic sharia regime. It rejects any links with Islamism as a political doctrine. The general ideological line of the party is identified by the party itself and the intellectuals as Conservative Democracy. Aspects of JDP’s conservative democracy can be read in JDP’s founding “Development and Democratization Program” as respect for democracy, secularism, rule of law, human rights, freedom, pluralism and diversity. JDP incorporates a basic difference from earlier national view parties that it traces the development of these modern political paradigmatic values and principles to the west. The party believes that its policy goals can be accomplished fully in a liberal democratic system (Dağı, 2006: 89).


As a part of its conservative origins, the JDP voices its continued interest in Turkey’s traditional, cultural, historical and moral values. Most remarkable examples of this new orientation are manifest in party campaigns for headscarf, Imam-Hatip schools, religious education and Quran Courses. However, the JDP differs from the earlier parties of Turkish religious right so far as it runs its campaign in abidance by the rights and freedoms presented by the existing political system. The party leaders argue that the reason for them to come in conflict with the secularist establishment in occasions is the authoritarian leanings of the state elites rather than the motivations of the party to violate secularism and democracy (Çınar and Duran, 2008: 33; Duran, 2008: 82-83; Hale and Özbudun, 2009: 20-21; Özbudun, 2006: 547-548).
In addition to this policy transformation, the party illustrates a significant change in the political style of the Turkish religious right. The party expresses its opposition to radical political changes and favors common sense, prudence and gradual change (Dağı, 2005: 30). The party pays utmost attention to keep away from hot debates with the state elites in its search for religious rights and freedoms. Burhanettin Duran argues that JDP’s conservative democracy is a program offered by the Turkish religious right to normalize the Turkish political life after 28 February process. For this reason, the Party is most careful not to make any reference to Islam as a legal, political and economic system (Duran, 2008: 81-82).
JDP’s policy orientation expressed in concise as conservative democracy has led to some changes in the character of the party too. Compared to substantially ideology seeking character of the National View, the JDP is more concerned with vote-seeking goals. The party has been more concerned with the ratio of the votes it obtains in the elections with a perception that parliamentary majority is the most valuable asset that a party must ensure to achieve its goals and policies. Thus the JDP has been more concerned with the expectations of the electorate and has widened its sources of appeal by moving the ideological line of the party towards the center (Duran, 2008: 83; Kuru, 2009: 176-181; Dağı, 2005: 30-32).



    1. The JDP’s View of Secularism

The JDP shares some similarities with the National View Parties in the way it frames secularism. The party interprets secularism as a guarantee of freedom of belief, conscious and thought. The party pronounces its distance from the idea of introducing an Islamic sharia regime as well as the other Islamic alternatives to social, political and economic institutions of public life in Turkey. The main goal of the party is defined as promoting democracy, justice, human rights, freedom and free market economy. (Kuru, 2009: 176-181; Dağı, 2006: 95-97).


The JDP’s approach to religion and secularism is stated as follows in the party program:

Our party considers religion as one of the most important institutions of humanity, and secularism as a pre-requisite of democracy, and an assurance of the freedom of religion and conscience. It also rejects the interpretation and distortion of secularism as enmity against religion.
Basically, secularism is a principle which allows people of all religions, and beliefs to comfortably practice their religions, to be able to express their religious convictions and live accordingly, but which also allows people without beliefs to organize their lives along these lines. From this point of view, secularism is a principle of freedom and social peace.
Our Party refuses to take advantage of sacred religious values and ethnicity and to use them for political purposes. It considers the attitudes and practices which disturb pious people, and which discriminate them due to their religious lives and preferences, as anti-democratic and in contradiction to human rights and freedoms. On the other hand, it is also unacceptable to make use of religion for political, economic and other interests, or to put pressure on people who think and live differently by using religion (JDP Party Program).
Bearing a concept of secularism like that, the JDP has been running a political and social campaign for reframing the laws to ensure freedom of using headscarf in universities, repudiation of the YÖK barrier against the graduates of Imam-Hatip schools, and improvement of the state of the Quran Courses and religious courses in normal schools. However, the campaign of the party is found by the judiciary as violating secularism (Kuru, 2009: 187-198; Yıldız, 2008: 52).



    1. Headscarf

The controversy on headscarf is very recent in Turkey. There was not a measure adapted uniformly by the public authorities against wearing headscarf in universities until late 1990s. Headscarf was not a common sociological theme among university students until 1970s. In 1984, headscarf ban came into effect in universities but it was not applied by all the universities because of student protests and personal preferences of certain universities. However, due to the pressures of the Turkish state elites, the ban was put in effect at all the universities gradually. The issue was one of the hottest issues of late 1990s with students being forced out of their classes, campuses, exam rooms and ceremonies. The view of the European Court of Human Rights was also with the secularist which had opined that headscarf ban was necessary and that it did not violate the European Convention of Human Rights (Upon the appeal of some student) (Çarkoğlu and Kalaycıoğlu, 2009: 100-102).


Contrary to the state elites, the JDP argues that the use of headscarf in schools and other public places does not bear any political character. It can never be considered as a part of a political doctrine that defends Islamic sharia regime. In a liberal democratic society, citizens enjoy certain rights and freedoms that cannot be violated. The way the people cover their body can never be instructed by a public authority. It is a most basic human right and a part of freedom of belief, conscience and thought. With such an approach to the headscarf issue, first related examination of the JDP came to the agenda with the events that followed the appointment of Erdoğan Teziç as the new head of Turkish Board of Higher Education, YÖK, in 2003. Soon after his appointment, Erdoğan Teziç widened the scope of headscarf ban by also prohibiting the use of wigs. He also added that a school principal must not have worn headscarf even in the street let alone in the school. The JDP found these measures as very extreme and went on by introducing a bill in the parliament to remove Erdoğan Teziç and to reorganize the YÖK. But the bill was vetoed by Necdet Sezer with a very heavy opposition from other members of the state elites as well (Kuru, 2009: 187-193).
Second important event related with the headscarf took place in December 2007 when the Nationalist Action Party presented a constitutional amendment bill in the parliament to prepare a legal ground for the abolition of the headscarf ban in universities. The initiative was fully supported by the JDP. But the Public Prosecutor of the High Court of Appeals Abdurrahman Yalçınkaya ruled a warning that such an action would lead to the opening of a closure case against both parties. But despite the opposition, amendments over two articles of the Constitution were approved by the parliament in February 2008. The laws reiterated equality before the law and brought an end to discrimination for reasons not clearly defined by the law to mean that it should be free to use headscarf in the schools and universities. After the approval of the amendments by the President Abdullah Gül, YÖK took the initiative to apply the laws by distributing instructions to the universities to permit entrance with headscarf. But under heavy reactions from presidents of some universities, the RPP and the Democratic Left Party (DLP), the Constitutional Court repudiated the laws with a claim that they are in violation of the principle of secularism (Rabasa and Larrabee, 2008: 62-63).



    1. Imam-Hatip Schools

The second issue leading in JDP’s agenda is the Imam-Hatip schools. The major problem pressuring the JDP deputies is the application of a barrier to the graduates of Imam-Hatip schools in their entrance to university exam. The barrier is the application of a lower coefficient in the calculation of the points of Imam-Hatip school graduates that substantially decrease their competitive advantage compared to graduates of other schools. The extent of the barrier is such that even if the graduates of Imam-Hatip schools answer all the questions correctly, they cannot enter certain universities and departments.


The secularist establishment argues that Imam-Hatip schools’ curriculum is filled with religious and moral sciences and therefore their graduates must be employed as prayer leaders and preachers in public service. But the JDP argues that the curriculum of Imam-Hatip schools includes those science courses taught by other public schools and that the fact that they also receive religious courses as a matter of preference cannot be turned into a tool of violation in their preparation to university examination. It cannot be argued that people cannot learn religious and moral courses if they don’t use it in their occupational life. It is a constitutional right of every citizen to learn and practice their religion as a part of freedom of conscience, belief, practice and thought. The JDP deputies thus consider the application of the barrier of lower coefficient as a source of discrimination.
For this reason, the JDP presented a bill to the parliament in 2004 to increase the coefficients of the Imam-Hatip schools to increase their chances though not lifting the barrier absolutely. The bill was met with a heavy media campaign by the secularist establishment. It passed the votes of the parliament with the support of other right parties as well, but it was vetoed by President Necdet Sezer. Another bidding was made in December 2005 by Minister of Education Hüseyin Çelik who had ruled an instruction that would enable the students to transfer to normal public schools in the last year of their education. After taking some extra courses, they would take the university entrance examination under the same condition as graduates of non-vocational schools. The instruction was cancelled by the Council of State with an excuse that it was against secularism (Rabasa and Larrabee, 2008: 63-64; Kuru, 2009: 193-196).



    1. Quran Courses and Other Controversial Issues

The Quran Courses have been another leading issue in JDP’s agenda. In December 2003, the JDP Government started an initiative via the Directorate of Religious Affairs to improve the state of the Quran Courses. The measures taken for this purpose included the opening of night courses, reduction of the minimum student number to open a course, removal of the time limitation of two months and permission to open dormitories. But the initiative met with the barrier of the Council of State again which cancelled all the policies adapted. Again in 2005, the JDP introduced a bill in the parliament to decrease the punishment for opening illegal Quran courses. The bill passed the parliament, but again to be vetoed by the President (Kuru, 2009: 196-198).


A relatively less sensational issue by which the JDP Government has drawn the reactions of the state elites is the attempt of the party to prohibit or limit the sale of alcoholic beverages in the cafeterias of the ministries and other public places. In 2004, a regulation is passed by the JDP Government putting limits and greater control over the alcohol consumption by giving the municipal and city-county councils the authority to issue liquor licenses and to determine the places to drink alcohol. Although it has been claimed that JDP is ruling these measures because of the prohibition of alcohol in Islam, the JDP Government has drawn attention to the health problems it generates as well as the social and cultural problems that it could lead. Alcohol market and consumption is thus taken under strict control (Yıldız, 2008: 53; Karakaş, 2007: 32).
And lastly, the JDP made a proposal in 2006 to divide parks, beaches and swimming pools with separate sections for men and women. The attempt was opposed by the secularists, however. Against the reactions, JDP deputies replied that such measures were adapted in European countries also (Yıldız, 2008: 53; Karakaş, 2007: 34; Cizre, 2008: 9).



  1. Conclusion

To summarize the main points of the article, the Turkish religious right has been subject to a remarkable change in terms of the importance given to religion. While the National View parties aimed to Islamize the sociopolitical and economic structure of the country, the JDPs relations with religious politics have been relatively limited. JDP has declared its opposition to the idea of establishing an Islamic sharia regime. It has run an ambitious campaign for headscarf, Imam-Hatip schools, Quran Cources and some similar issues, but it has paid utmost attention not to violate the provisions presented by the laws. The JDP has annunciated its respect for human rights, democracy, rule of law, secularism and pluralism. Contrary to the National View, the JDP does not offer an Islamic alternative to the aspects of public life and it does not foresee a substantial role for religion in Turkey’s road to development. JDP politics is most often interpreted as conciliatory, pragmatist, moderate and legalistic.



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