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While Turkey has sporadically experienced Islamist terrorism since the Iranian Revolution of 1979, the level of terrorist activity has been largely nonexistent since the 2003 Istanbul bombings carried out by al-Qaeda. By contrast, political Islamism consistently gained in strength since the 1980s, and, with multiple electoral victories of the Islamist-rooted AKP (Justice and Development Party) since November 2002, has became increasingly visible at the grassroots level as pious Turks have enjoyed increased representation in the political process. Their election victory in 2007 helped solidify the AKP’s hold on political power, accelerating the placement of Islamists and those sympathetic to it in key posts across all three branches of the Turkish government and state bureaucracies and using state power to help build business empires.1 Moreover, a 2011 referendum allowed the AKP to gradually increase its control over the judiciary, leading to the virtual monopolization of the judicial branch in addition to the traditional control of the executive and legislative branches. As a result, what started out as a democratization initiative has gradually mutated into a more authoritarian form of governance, which some have described as a police state following the government’s brutal reaction toward widespread anti-government protests in June 2013.2 

The secular traditions of the Turkish Republic limits the appeal of radical Islamism among the Turkish society, in spite of the fact that religiosity is important to a large majority of Turks.3 Nevertheless, while the Turkish government is by and large effective in combatting Islamist terrorism,the deficiencies of Turkish democracy5 make it possible for Islamists to exploit Islam and surreptitiously extend their reach in politics. With the rise of the AKP, Islamist brotherhoods and organizations have increasingly become the dominant political forces steering the ship of the Turkish state, and working to broaden Islamism’s appeal for ordinary Turks and among the Turkish youth in particular.6 

Level of Islamist Activity: 
Islamist Activity: 

Islamist activity in Turkey generally takes place via one of the three channels: (1) through Islamist terrorist groups; (2) through the activities of charities and business organizations; and, most important, (3) through the activities of the Islamist brotherhoods—tariqats, communities and lodges—where political influence leads to cronyism and, ultimately, to corruption. In recent years, however, a fourth avenue has been witnessed: the active role of the government in advancing Islamist agenda.

Terrorist Organizations
The Islamic Great Eastern Raider Front (IBDA-C) is a Sunni Salafist group that supports full Islamic rule in Turkey. The group’s members organize independently, without any defined hierarchy or central authority, and both its legal and illegal actions are carried out via local “front” groups which cooperate with other opposition elements in Turkey when necessary.The group supports the establishment of a “pure Islamic” state to replace the present “corrupt” Turkish regime that is cooperating with the West.8 IBDA-C was founded in 1985 as a breakaway faction of the National Salvation Party, at the time headed by Islamic fundamentalist (and future prime minister) Necmettin Erbakan. The organization borrows its core ideology from Turkish poet and historian Necip Fazil Kisakurek (1905-1983), who advocated a return to “pure Islamic values” and the restoration of a universal Islamic caliphate in the Muslim world. Kisakurek also argued that the secular nature of Turkey was responsible for the state’s inability to ward off what he saw as Western imperialism.9 The organization is highly decentralized and consists of independent cells united by common goals and ideology, yet operating either autonomously or in concert depending on the circumstances. IBDA-C joined al-Qaeda in claiming responsibility for the November 2003 bombings in Istanbul.10 The group has not been involved in any activity since, and its leader Salih Izzet Erdis (also known as Salih Mirzabeyoglu) was captured in late 1998 and subsequently sentenced to life in prison in June 2008.11 The current status of IBDA-C is unknown.

Turkish Hizbullah is a Kurdish Islamic (Sunni) extremist organization founded in the 1980s by Huseyin Velioglu, an ethnic Kurd and former student activist, in the southeastern city of Diyarbakır. The purpose of the organization, which is unrelated to the Lebanese Shi’ite militia of the same name, is the establishment of an Islamic state. It seeks the establishment of an Islamic state through three distinct phases: (1) a period of propaganda and indoctrination, known as tebliğ, or “communication”; (2) the consolidation of a popular base, known as cemaat, or “community”; and (3) a jihad to overthrow the secular order and establish an Islamic state.12 Beginning in the mid-1990s, Turkish Hizbullah expanded its activities from killing Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants to conducting low-level bombings against liquor stores, bordellos, and other establishments that the organization considered “anti-Islamic.”13 The Turkish government initially ignored Hizbullah, even hoping that its Islamism might provide an ideological bulwark against the PKK’s atheistic Marxism. By the late 1990s, however, Turkish authorities finally acknowledged that Hizbullah had become a major threat in its own right, and moved against the group.14 Huseyin Velioglu was killed in a shootout with Turkish forces at a safehouse in Istanbul in January 2000. The incident touched off a series of counterterrorism operations against the group that resulted in the detention of some 2,000 individuals and the arrests of several hundred on criminal charges. Turkish Hizbullah has not conducted a major operation since it assassinated the popular Diyarbakir police chief in 2001.15 In January 2010, five members of the group were freed in accordance with a new national law restricting the amount of time suspects can be held while awaiting the final verdict in their cases.16 

The Caliphate State, also known as the Kaplan group and ICB-AFID, is a Turkish fundamentalist terrorist group that operates in Germany and seeks to overthrow the secular Turkish government and establish an Islamic state modeled after Iran. The group was founded by Cemalettin Kaplan, following his parting with the National View political movement in Turkey. Its immediate purpose is to gather the Muslim masses living in Europe under an Islamic banner to reject democracy and Western culture. Its ultimate goal is to establish a federative Islamic state on Anatolian soil based on sharia by overthrowing the Constitutional state and the secular order. Since Cemalettin Kaplan appointed himself “the caliph” in 1994, the organization has been referred to as the Caliphate State. After Kaplan’s death in 1995, his son Metin Kaplan was elected the new Caliph, causing divisions within the organization. Following his declaration of jihad against Turkey, the new self-styled caliph, Metin, was arrested by the German authorities and served a four-year prison sentence in Germany for inciting members of his group to murder a rival Islamic leader. He was then extradited to Turkey, where he was sentenced to life in prison for treason. His followers have reportedly become even more devoted to Kaplan, who is believed to have a fortune worth millions, considering him a martyr for the cause of Allah.17 The group, organized as Verband der Islamischen Vereine und Gemeinden e.V. (Islami Cemaat ve Cemiyetler Birligi/ ICCB) with 1,200 members in Germany and an estimated membership of 5,000 around Europe, was outlawed by the German authorities in 2002.18 

The Army of Jerusalem (Kudüs Ordusu or Tevhid-Selam) is an illegal organization which emerged in 1985. Using the publication of several magazines, including Tevhid and Selam, as cover, the group often collaborated with other organizations and received its inspiration from the “Qods (Jerusalem) Force” paramilitary unit of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.19 In the year 2000, twenty four members were indicted for attempting to overthrow the country’s secular regime and establish a state based upon religious law, and for their involvement in the assassinations of several pro-secular journalists and academics during the 1990s. Fifteen of them were subsequently convicted in 2002, with three receiving a death sentence.20  

Al-Qaeda is also active in Turkey. In 2003, a Turkish chapter of the Bin Laden network surfaced, possibly in collaboration with IBDA-C members, to conduct terrorist attacks against two synagogues, an HSBC bank and the British consulate.21 According to Richard Barrett, the head of the UN’s Al Qaeda and Taliban monitoring group, there are over 100 Turkish-speaking al-Qaeda members along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.22 Since the Istanbul bombings, Turkish authorities have cracked down on the members running the group’s operations in Turkey, sentencing many of them to life in prison.23 Though no terrorist activity was noted after the 2003 bombings, the recent arrival of thousands of members of the al-Qaeda associate Jabhat al-Nusra (designated a terrorist organization by the United States since December 2012)24 amongst the five hundred thousand Syrian refugees25 who fled to Turkey have raised concerns. The Turkish government originally promoted the group as an effective force against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, criticizing the USA for prematurely designating it as a terrorist organization.26 However, following the Reyhanli bombings near the Syrian border that killed 46 people in May 2013, the Turkish government no longer views the group favorably.27  Despite statements by the Turkish government holding Syria responsible for the explosions,28  many Turks in the area believe al-Nusra was involved.29  

Finally, there is Hizb ut-Tahrir. Founded in 1953, the group made its way to Turkey in 1978, espousing its aims of establishing an Islamic caliphate and introducing sharia law. The group was outlawed by a Turkish court in 2004.30 The Turkish police have often detained members of the organization. The latest raid came in 2009 with the authorities detaining 165 suspected Hizb ut-Tahrir members.31 Though the exact size and breadth of the group’s Turkish branch is not known, documents and maps confiscated during the 2009 raids have exposed the organization’s plans to establish a caliphate spanning from Ukraine to Spain in Europe, from Kazakhstan to India in Asia, from Morocco to Gabon and from Egypt to Mozambique in Africa and from Madagascar to Indonesia in the Indian Ocean.32 Hizb ut-Tahrir is active in Turkey, despite having been formally banned by the Turkish courts, and boasts an organizational office in the capital city of Ankara, as well as a dedicated website under the name of Türkiye Vilayeti, or Turkish province.33 

In their efforts to better organize and expand their reach, Turkish Islamists have expanded their activity from terrorist groups to NGOs. Nearly every tariqat, lodge or brotherhood has formed its own organization, be it charity or business. 

The IHH (The Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief), which organized the May 2010 humanitarian aid flotilla to the Gaza Strip that resulted in a raid by the Israeli forces, leaving nine dead, is not considered a terrorist group. The group operates as a humanitarian relief organization and has close ties to Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).34 Formed to provide aid to Bosnian Muslims in the mid-1990s,35 it has held “Special Consultative Status” with the United Nations Economic and Social Council since 2004.36 However, French counterterrorism magistrate Jean-Louis Bruguiere has accused the group of helping mujahideen to infiltrate the Balkans in the mid-1990s, and alleges that the IHH is affiliated with al-Qaeda.37 For its part, the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, an Israeli NGO with close ties to the country’s military, does not dispute the IHH’s legitimate philanthropic activities, but says that the organization is an overt supporter of Hamas and has helped provide weapons and funds for Hamas and other Islamic terrorist groups in the Middle East.38 IHH continues to undertake broad humanitarian activities in emergency-stricken areas around the globe with an emphasis on those countries with a Muslim population while using these activities as a cover for relations with global jihadist networks.39 

Another internationally active relief organization is the KYM (The “Kimse Yok Mu” Association), originally founded in 2002 and since grown into a huge organization operating internationally with the ability to raise large sums of funds like the IHH.  Having initiated its international involvement following the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia, the KYM joined Red Crescent (Kızılay), Turkey’s state relief organization, and the IHH in aggressively raising funds for Somalia starting in 2010 and peaking in the summer of 2011.40 The organization has close ties to the Gulen movement, which constitutes one of the most powerful players within the governing AKP, and seeks to extend influence via charitable activities that complement the activities of the movement’s global network of schools and business initiatives undertaken by the Turkish Federation of Businessmen and Industrialists (TUSKON),41 founded in 2005.

With nearly all of its members representing small or medium-size businesses, TUSKON focuses on underdeveloped and developing countries in particular and has grown into an international force, lobbying decision-makers at the local, regional, national and global levels. Forging human connections and establishing cultural, educational and religious ties via the federation’s cooperation with the Gulen movement’s network of schools and extracurricular religious activities in conjunction with Turkish religious organizations such as Turkish Religion Foundation (TDV) , TUSKON seeks to gain influence and market access around the world. 

On the other hand, established in 1990, the vision of MUSIAD (the Independent Industrialists and Businessmen’s Association) is “[t]o become the number one business association in Turkey which is trusted and valued by majority of our people, which represents its country in the best way both domestically and internationally and whose members are sincerely loyal to their faith, by blending with the thousand year old values of its people.”42 While MUSIAD claims that its name is an acronym for “Independent” (“Müstakil”), most Turks suspect that it stands for “Muslim (Müslüman) Industrialists and Businessmen’s Association.” Indeed, the organization appears to have originally been formed as a more religious counterpoint to the country’s predominant business group, the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TUSIAD).43 The group does not appear to engage in illegal activity, but operates to extend the reach of Islamist capital—what is called yeşil sermaye, “green money,” in Turkey. Green money is basically money from wealthy Islamist businessmen and Middle Eastern countries that, through careful investment, is funneled into legitimate businesses that end up serving as an engine for Islamist parties.44  

MUSIAD and TUSKON differ in the nature of their members, with MUSIAD’s members coming from AKP’s National View arm while those close to Gulen’s cemaat are organized under TUSKON.45 

One cannot present an accurate picture of Turkey without highlighting the social activities and political influence of Islamist brotherhoods—namely, the tariqats, the cemaats, the tekkes and their varying extensions. The problem with the brotherhoods does not lie in their political involvement, however corrupt it may be, but rather in the unconditionally submissive tribal nature of the group to a sheik or a hoca, i.e., to the wishes of a single gang leader.

While numerous tariqats exist, three groups in particular—the Kadiris, the Nakshibendis and the Nurcus—founded the Milli Nizam Partisi (National Order Party) in 1970, and then the Milli Selamet Partisi (National Salvation Party) a couple years later. In doing so, they sowed the seeds for the modern political Islamist movement in Turkey. The Nakshibendis and the Nurcus have increasingly become the dominant forces in Turkey in the last decade, leading to total monopolization of the whole political spectrum after the September 2010 Constitutional Referendum was approved by the Turkish voters.46 

The most deeply-rooted tariqat, originating in Middle Asia centuries ago, the Nakshibendis in Turkey are comprised of the Suleyman, Iskenderpasha, Erenkoy, Ismailaga, Işıkçılar, Menzilci and Haznevi groups (communities and lodges) among others.47 The Nakshibendis have a long track record of supporting conservative parties on the right, including Islamist parties like Refah and its modern iteration, the AKP. The Suleymancis have dominated the state-controlled Directorate of Religious Affairs since the 1940s.48 The Ismailaga lodge has focused on spreading its influence among poor voters,49 while the Erenkoy and Iskenderpasha lodges have appealed to middle- to upper-class voters. Turkish political leaders including Islamist leader Necmettin Erbakan, prime ministers Turgut Ozal and Tayyip Erdogan—have all been a part of or close to the Iskenderpasha community.50,51  

The Nur cemaat emerged some time in the first quarter of the 20th century (no exact date can be found anywhere, including the movement’s own websites) as a Sunni movement based on the teachings of  its founder—a Muslim Kurd named Said-i Kurdi (also known as Said-i Nursi), who, in a 1922 letter to Ataturk demanded that the new republic base itself on Islamic principles.52 The group was often subjected to pressure by successive Turkish governments until Nursi’s death in 1960. Thereafter, the movement has split into different groups, the most active of which is the Fethullah Gulen cemaat, which has schools not only in all regions of Turkey, but also internationally from Africa to the Far East Asia,53 including the United States. In addition to schools, the movement includes the Journalists and Writers Foundation, various businesses including the Turkish Federation of Businessmen and Industrialists (TUSKON), and media outlets such as Zaman and its English-language edition, Today's Zaman, Samanyolu TV, and Aksiyon Weekly. According to a detailed 2009 study, the movement seeks to fundamentally transform Turkish society via its extensive network of media, bureaucratic, academic and economic connections.54 Concerns over the political agenda of the group has been raised by U.S. government officials as well.55  

The Gulenists have supported the AKP (Justice and Development Party) since 2002. However, tensions between Prime Minister Erdogan and the cemaat have increasingly surfaced since the Mavi Marmara incident in 2010,56 and peaking after February 7, 2012, when a prosecutor of the "Specially Authorized Judiciary," known to be controlled by the Gulenists, “summoned to its office Hakan Fidan, the undersecretary of the MIT — said to be Erdogan’s most trusted name in the state bureaucracy — and a few other high-level MIT officials on suspicion of colluding with the Kurdish PKK.”57 The action was perceived by most including Erdogan himself to be an attempt to arrest the Turkish Prime Minister in the same manner as Turkish Armed Forces generals and personnel, journalists, writers, academicians, top soccer club executives and Kurdish leaders among others were jailed by the Special Authority Courts in the highly publicized Ergenekon, Sledgehammer, KCK and match-fixing cases.58 The Special Authority Courts have since been abolished by the Turkish parliament59 after Tayyip Erdogan called them “the state within the state” and said they were going too far.60 

Erdogan reportedly wants the cemaat to stop its infiltration into the state bureacracies and keep out of the police and the judiciary. To attain this goal, the prime minister has been gradually moving the Gulenists out of the police, judiciary and educational system or into more pacified positions within the state bureacracies. Nevertheless, when deputy prime minister Bulent Arinc, known to be close to Gulen, relayed Erdogan’s message to Fethullah Gulen in Pennsylvania in May 2013 while Erdogan met with US President Obama, the response – though not exposed publicly – was not positive.61  

Next was the absurdly brutal police behavior directed by the governor of Istanbul – also believed to be a Gulenist - which helped turn a small environmental protest in a small Taksim park into nationwide anti-government protests – widely known as the Gezi protests - that took place in 79 of 81 Turkish cities in late May 2013 and continued through late June.62 While Erdogan’s embrace of the exaggerated police brutality that followed his orders for a crackdown may have been surprising, it also presented a confirmation of the existence of a chess game between the two forces competing for power, uniting only when confronted by a common adversary, which was the way the protesters were perceived. The chess game is expected to continue until the 2014 Presidential and 2015 general elections since in all probability, the Gulen cemaat would like to see the current Turkish president, Abdullah Gul, keep his post of the Presidency or somehow manage to take over the Prime Ministry.63 

Islamism and Society: 

Turkey’s population of nearly 79 million is 99.8 percent Muslim, the vast majority of which are Sunni, with the remainder mostly Christians and Jews.64 During the reign of the Ottoman Empire, religious communities were allowed to govern themselves under their own system (millet)—sharia for Muslims, Canon Law for Christians and Halakha for Jews. In the millet system, people were defined by their religious affiliations, rather than their ethnic origins. The head of a millet—most often a religious hierarch, such as the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople—reported directly to the Ottoman Sultan.65  

After the demise of the Ottoman Empire following the First World War, the Republic of Turkey was founded upon the ideals of modernism and secularism.66 The founders of the modern Republic considered the separation of religion and politics an essential step to adopting Western values and secularism, and as mandatory condition for its success as a Muslim nation.67 The new regime therefore abolished the Ottoman sultanate in 1922 and the caliphate in 1924, replacing laws based on sharia with European legal codes.68 Additionally, they switched from the Arabic alphabet to the Latin and from the Islamic calendar to the Gregorian while restricting public attire associated with atavistic Ottoman and religious affiliations (outlawing the fez and discouraging women from wearing the veil).

With the abolition of the caliphate, Islam no longer constituted the the basis for the Turkish legal system. However, vestiges remained: despite the abolishment of Şeyhülislam, the superior authority in the matters of Islam, and the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Pious Foundations,69 Islam was still preserved as the state religion by the Constitution of 1924.70 Meanwhile, the Directorate for Religious Affairs, Diyanet, was established to oversee the organization and administration of religious affairs. The Unification of Instruction, Tevhid-i Tedrisat, brought all educational establishments under the control of the state.71 Hence, the transformation from a tribal entity to a national entity – from an ummah to a modern nation-state – was initiated.

Since the start of multi-party democracy in 1946 and the ensuing victory of the Democratic Party, Demokrat Parti, four years later, the Islamist groups consisting of Sufi brotherhoods - tariqats, communities and lodges - and have managed to take advantage of the appeasement strategies of political parties in competition for votes and have increasingly become powerful players in Turkish politics, often exploiting the deficiencies of the nation’s young democratic system. Islamist terrorism has also become a factor since the 1980s, gaining momentum after the 1990s.

In today’s Turkey, indigenous Islamist groups imitate the strategies of foreign Islamists. Political sociologists and commentators have long warned of this phenomenon. For example, in a 1999 letter to then-Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, political scientist Gurbuz Evren warned about the importation of ideas and strategy from the Muslim Brotherhood: 

The political Islamist segment is currently trying to establish the Egypt-originated ‘Muslim Brotherhood” model in Turkey. This model aims to create an “alternative society within a society.” According to the model, the fundamental needs of the poverty-stricken masses and the low-income segments are designated. Then, hospitals and medical centers that provide free medical services are established, scholarships are increasingly provided for students, religious educational institutions are disseminated, the number of soup kitchens and charities that hand out clothes and financial aid are increased. On days like wedding days, holidays and child births, people are paid visits to make them feel they are not alone and are given gifts. In short, a society comprised of people who are made to believe that their problems can be solved not by the current order, but via the religion of Islam that embraces them… a society comprised of people who are dressed differently with totally different lifestyles… a society comprised of people who will eventually toil to influence and pressure the rest of the society will be created.72 

Evren had even warned that a new party based on this model was most likely to be founded out of a cadre of the Islamist Refah Partisi (Welfare Party) and Fazilet Partisi (Virtue Party). As predicted, the AKP—which contains former members of both Refah and Fazilet—was founded on August 14, 2001, and went on to win the country’s November 2002 parliamentary elections. 

Grassroots Islamism in Turkey is also strengthened by the infusion of “green money” from other Middle Eastern states. These vast financial flows, estimated by government officials and Turkish economists at between $6 billion and $12 billion from 2002 to 2005,73 have given both imported and domestic interpretations of Islamism considerable voice in Turkish society. Moreover, terrorist groups active in Turkey appear to be financed not only through domestic methods (including donations, theft, extortion, and other illicit activity), but also via funds from abroad as well as training and logistics. The amount and origin of such funding is not fully known, but is understood to be substantial. For example, documents recovered in the January 2000 raid against Hizbullah in Istanbul helped to expose the significant financial and logistical support Iran has provided the group. Since such raids by the security forces often disrupt group activity, foreign support serves as a much-needed lifeline in terms of sanctuary, training, arms, ammunition, food and clothing.74 

Turkish society in general does not appear as susceptible to radical Islamism as that of other Muslim nations or the Muslim communities in Europe. When it comes to religious conservatism, 42 percent of Turks consider themselves irreligious or slightly religious, 37% are somewhat religious while just half that number, 21 percent, identify themselves as very religious or extremely religious (with only 1.6 percent falling into the latter category).75 However, Islamist groups in the form of “Islamic holdings” have been known to prey on religious communities in Anatolian Turkey and the religious Turkish population in Germany, borrowing directly from lenders without using any financial intermediaries and accumulating large sums of capital.76 The support for Islamist terror groups by the Turkish society, on the other hand, has been negligible and is restricted to the extreme minority.

Islamism and the State: 

Since the founding of the Turkish Republic, the Turkish state has made an effort to separate Islam from Islamism. In its attempt to erect a tradition of "state Islam," the government has regulated religious affairs via the Diyanet (the Directorate of Religious Affairs established in 1924). The Diyanet, directly tied to the office of the Prime Minister, coordinates the building of mosques, trains and appoints imams, and determines the topics for weekly Friday sermons by imams. Thus, in contrast with other regional states (where governments finance, certify, and supervise mosques but underground radical mosques, Koranic schools, and imams successfully compete with government establishments, more or less unchecked), state Islam in Turkey has enjoyed a near-monopoly on legitimate expression of the Muslim faith.77 

Over the years, the formally secular nature of the Turkish state has led to constraints on political participation as well. Article 2 of the Turkish Constitution, which codifies that “The Republic of Turkey is a democratic, secular and social state governed by the rule of law,”78 has served as the basis for the closure of four political parties—the Millet Partisi (the Nation Party), Milli Nizam Partisi, Refah Partisi and Fazilet Partisi—each of which was charged with violating the secular nature of the Republic. Twenty-two other parties have been banned for other reasons.79  

While the Turkish military has been involved in several interventions (commonly termed as “coups”) over the years, only one—the 1997 warning from the country’s National Security Council that led to the resignation of Necmettin Erbakan’s ruling Islamist coalition—was related to a violation of secularism. Turkey’s transition to a multi-party system and the evolution of the Turkish democracy since been marked by friction between the competing pulls of modernization and traditional societal mores. Successful collective political action by tribal leaders, in combination with the appeasement policies of political leaders, has given tribal entities a disproportionate voice in Turkish politics, allowing the more traditional minority to dominate the country’s political scene.80 As a result, even the Diyanet, established to control the religious exploitation common in an earlier age, has ended up being dominated by one of the Islamist bodies it was intended to control, namely the Suleymancis of the Nakshibendi tariqat. The outcome has been further “Sunni-ization” of Turkey over the years, despite the supposed neutrality of the state toward all religions and their branches. In keeping with this trend, the U.S. State Department’s 2010 Report on International Religious Freedom notes that the Turkish state “provided training for Sunni Muslim clerics” while “religious communities outside the Sunni Muslim mainstream have not found a suitable system to train leadership inside the country within the current legal framework.”81 The report goes on to detail that “Alevi children received the same compulsory religious education as all Muslim students, and many Alevis alleged discrimination in the government's failure to include any of their doctrines or beliefs in religious instruction classes in public schools.”82 

The behavior of the governing AKP since grabbing 49.9% of the vote in June 2011 has proven political scientist Gurbuz Evren’s Muslim Brotherhood model to be valid and exposed new approaches of imposing Islamism on the Turkish society. The 2010 Constitutional Referendum weqkened separation of powers that existed in the Turkish political system, essentially giving the governing party the power to control all three branches of the government.83 Nearly all state institutions have been inundated with AKP cadres and the opposition has been silenced due to the majority control of the parliament. In the two years since the 2011 elections, not a single resolution out of the 216 attempts by the three opposition parties were accepted, while all 50 of the AKP resolutions were approved.

Moreover, media freedom is now being threatened in Turkey.84 Turkey leads the world in the number imprisoned journalists85 and has dropped from 99th in 2002 to 154th in 2013 (out of 179 nations) in the World Press Freedom Index rankings.86 With the exception of a few small channels and newspapers, most media outlets provide unconditional support for the government. Those who do not abide by the rules either wind up in jail or see their careers end.87  


[1] Richard C. Morais and Denet C. Tezel, “Turkey's Double Edge,” Forbes, February 11, 2008,
[2] “A Record of Taksim Gezi Park protest meetings, Day 1-19”,,28,29/#27
[3] “KONDA Research: Religion, Secularism and the Veil in Daily Life Survey September 2007,” Milliyet (Istanbul), December 2007.
[4] “Istanbul Bombacisi 6 El Kaideci Yakalandi,” [Six Al-Qaeda Hand Istanbul Bombers Arrested] Aksam (Istanbul), September 16, 2009, 
[5] Okan Altiparmak, “Turkey’s Uncertain Future: A Symposium,” The American, April 30, 2008,
[6] “Turkey PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan sparks furor by saying he wants to ‘raise a religious youth’,” National Post, February 12, 2009,
[7] Yoni Fighel, “Great East Islamic Raiders Front (IBDA-C) – A Profile,” International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, January 12, 2003,
[8] U.S. Department of State, Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, “Appendix C: Background Information on Other Terrorist Groups,”n.d.,
[9] Center for Defense Information, “In the Spotlight: The Great East Islamic Raiders Front (IBDA-C),” October 8, 2004,
[10] “Turkey Buries Latest Bomb Victims,” CNN, November 21, 2003,
[11] “IBDA-C lideri Salih Mirzabeyoglu'na müebbet hapis,” [IBDA-C Leader Salih Mirzabeyoglu Gets Life Imprisonment,] Ihlas Haber, June 13, 2008,
[12] Gareth Jenkins, “Back with a Vengeance: Turkish Hezbollah,” Jamestown Foundation Terrorism Monitor 6, iss. 2, January 25, 2008,
[13] Department of State, “Appendix C: Background Information on Other Terrorist Groups.”
[14] Jenkins, “Back with a Vengeance.”
[15] Department of State, “Appendix C: Background Information on Other Terrorist Groups.”
[16] İzgi Güngör, “Release of Turkish Hizbullah members sparks controversy over its future strategy,” Hurriyet (Istanbul), January 9, 2010,
[17] “Profile: The Caliph of Cologne,” BBC, May 27, 2004,
[18] “Kaplancilar'ın itirazi kabul edilmedi,” [Kaplan Objection was not Accepted] Mynet Haber, November 28, 2002,
[19] Keles: Mumcu cinayeti cozuldu,” [Keles: Mumcu’s Murder Solved] NTVMSNBC, July 11, 2000,  
[20] “Ugur Mumcu aniliyor,” [Ugur Mumcu Remembered] Hurriyet (Istanbul), January 24, 2002,
[21] Emrullah Uslu, “Was Alleged al-Qaeda Attack a Failed Attempt to Occupy the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul?” Jamestown Foundation Terrorism Monitor 5, iss. 27, July 23, 2008,[tt_news]=5073&tx_ttnews[backPid]=246&no_cache=1. 
[22] Tolga Tanis, “En az 100 Turk El Kaideci,” [More than 100 Turkish al-Qaeda Hands] Hurriyet (Istanbul), October 10, 2010,
[23] Aysegul Usta, “El Kaide'ye 7 muebbet hapis,” [7 al-Qaeda get Life in Prison] Hurriyet (Istanbul), February 17, 2007, 
[24] “US blacklists Syrian rebel group al-Nusra,” Al Jazeera, December 11, 2013.
[25] “Number of Syrian Refugees in Turkey Reaches 500,000,” Novinite, September 5, 2013.
[26] Semih Idiz, “Turkey Reconsiders Support For Jabhat Al-Nusra,” Al-Monitor, August 13, 2013.
[27] “Who was behind the Reyhanli attack?,” DW, May 14, 2013.
[28] Matthew Weaver, “Turkey blames Syria over Reyhanli bombings.” The Guardian, May 12, 2013.
[29] “Al Nusra Caught with Sarin Gas in Turkey,” LarouchePAC, June 1, 2013.
[30] Patrick Wrigley, “Turkey Hems in its Islamist Fringe,” Asia Times, August 7, 2009,
[31] “Turkey Detains 165 Suspected Members of Radical Islamist Group Hizb ut-Tahrir,” Fox News, July 27, 2009,,2933,534927,00.html
[32] “Hizb-ut Tahrir'in "Hilafet Devletinin topraklari," [Hizb-ut Tahrir’s “Caliphate State Lands”] Radikal (Istanbul), July 27, 2009,
[33] “Hizb-ut Tahrir Turkiye Vilayeti,” n.d., 
[34] Damien McElroy et al., “Gaza flotilla: Turkey Accused of Behaving like Iran by Israel,” Telegraph (London), June 3, 2010, 
[35] Factbox: Turkish Charity Group Behind Gaza-Bound Convoy,” Reuters, May 31, 2010,
[36] The list of non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council as of September 2009 is available at United Nations Economic and Social Council, E/2009/INF/4, September 1, 2009,
[37] “Turkey’s Radical Drift,” Wall Street Journal, June 3, 2010,
[38] Alexander Christie-Miller & James Hider, “Turkish Charity that Sent Aid Convoy to Gaza ‘has Links to Terrorism,’” Sunday Times (London), June 3, 2010,
[39] “The Turkish organization IHH provides humanitarian assistance to the famine-stricken regions of Somalia,” The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, May 11, 2011.
[40] Ismail Einashe, “The Tears of Somalia: Turkey’s Moral Foreign Policy,” BÜLENT Journal Contemporary Turkey, May 7, 2013.
[41] Julia Harte, “Turkey Shocks Africa,” World Policy Institute, Winter 2012.
[42] Vision, MUSIAD website, 
[43] Eylem Turk, “Omer Cihad Vardan, Son dönemin yükselen muhafazakar dernekleri,” [The rising conservative associations of the recent era] Ekonomi, Milliyet, August 1, 2009,; TUSIAD US, “Mission Statement,” n.d.,
[44] Michael Rubin, “Green Money, Islamist Politics in Turkey,” Middle East Quarterly, Winter 2005, 13-23,
[45] Mustafa Sonmez, “TUSKON’la MUSIAD birbirine girecek (TUSKON and MUSIAD will clash),” Odatv (Istanbul), February 20, 2012.
[46] What will the constitutional changes mean for Turkey?, Hurriyet (Istanbul), September 12, 2010.
[47] Okan Konuralp, “Turkiye’nin tarikat ve cemaat haritasi,” [Turkey’s Religious Order, and Community Map] Hurriyet (Istanbul), September 17, 2006,
[48] “Suleymancilar: Gizlilik Yemini,” [Suleymancilar: A Privacy Oath] Sabah (Istanbul), September 20, 2006,
[49] “Yakin plan tarikat rehberi,” [Close-up Sect] Sabah (Istanbul), September 20, 2006,
[50] Timur Soykan, “Naksibendi seyhi oldu,” [Naqshibandi Sheikh is Dead] Radikal (Istanbul), February 5, 2001,
[51] Sefa Kaplan, Recep Tayyip Erdogan: Gelecegi Etkileyecek Siyasi Liderler, Istanbul: Dogan Kitap, 2007). ISBN 9752935563
[52] “Said-i Nursi’nin Ataturk’e 88 yillik mektubu,” [Said-i Nursi’s Ataturk 88-Year Letter,” Gazetevatan, January 4, 2011, 
[53] Konuralp, “Turkiye’nin tarikat ve cemaat haritasi” [Turkey’s religious order, and community map].
[54] Rachel Sharon-Krespin, “Fethullah Gulen's Grand Ambition,” Middle East Quarterly, Winter 2009, 55-66, 
[55] “GULEN: TURKEY’S INVISIBLE MAN CASTS LONG SHADOW,” Cable 09ANKARA1722, Wikileaks,  December 4, 2009.
[56] “The Gulenists fight back,” The Economist, May 18, 2013.
[57] Kadri Gursel, “Gulenist-AKP clash is now in the open,” Al-Monitor, August 16, 2013.
[58] Gareth Jenkins, “Ergenekon, Sledgehammer and the Politics of Turkish Justice: Conspiracies and Coincidences,” MERIA Journal, Volume 15, No.2, June 2011.
[59] “Turkish Parliament abolishes special courts,” Hurriyet (Istanbul), June 8, 2012.
[60] “Special-authority courts ‘going too far,’ Turkish PM says,” Hurriyet (Istanbul), July 2, 2012.
[61] Amberin Zaman, “The Looming Power Struggle Between Erdogan and Gulenists,” Al-Monitor, May 19, 2013.
[62] “2.5 million people attended Gezi protests across Turkey: Interiro Ministry,” Hurriyet Daily News, June 23, 2013.
[63] Francesco Cerri, “Turkey: Erdogan-Gul ambitions behind the curtains,” ANSAmed, June 5, 2013.
[64] “Turkey,” Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook, May 26, 2011.
[65] Ortaylı, Ilber. "Son Imparatorluk Osmanli (The Last Empire: Ottoman Empire)", Istanbul, Timas Yayinlari, 2006, pp. 87–89, ISBN 975-263-490-7.  
[66] Kemal Karpat, “Modern Turkey,” in P.M. Holt et al., eds. The Cambridge History of Islam, 1970, vol I, 528; Yael Navaro-Yashin, Faces of the State: Secularism and Public life in Turkey (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002).
[67] Stanford J. Shaw and Ezel K. Shaw, History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey: Reform, Revolution and Republic vol. 2 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977), 384.
[68] M. Winter, “The Modernization of Education in Modern Turkey,” in Jacob M. Landau, ed., Atatürk and the Modernization of Turkey (Leiden: Brill, 1984), 186.
[69] Karpat, op cit, p. 533-4.
[70] Shaw and Shaw, History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey, 385.
[71] Republic of Turkey Presidency of Religious Affairs, “The State and Religion in Modern Turkey,” n.d.,
[72] Author interview with Gurbuz Evren, Ankara, Turkey, August 2007.
[73] Rubin, “Green Money, Islamist Politics in Turkey,” 13-23.
[74] Turkish National Police, “Teror Orgutlerinin Finans Kaynaklari,” n.d.,
[75] “KONDA Research: Religion, Secularism and the Veil in Daily Life Survey September 2007.”
[76] Gul Berna Ozcan & Murat Cokgezen, “Trusted Markets: The Exchanges of Islamic Companies,” Comparative Economic Studies (2006),
[77] Soner Cagaptay, Duden Yegenoglu, and Ekim Alptekin, “Turkey and Europe's Problem with Radical Islam,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy PolicyWatch 1043, November 2, 2005,
[78] Constitution of the Republic of Turkey, Article 2,
[79] “Fazilet, kapatılan 25. Parti,” [Virtue, 25 Party Closed] Hurriyet (Istanbul), June 22 2001,
[80] Mancur Olson, The Logic of Collective Action: Public Goods and the Theory of Groups revised edition (Boston: Harvard University Press, 1971).
[81] U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, International Religious Freedom Report 2010, November 17, 2010,
[82] Ibid.
[83] Okan Altiparmak, “Is Turkey really a ‘vibrant democracy’?,” PJ Media, September 30, 2011.
[84] Gareth Jenkins, “A House Divided Against Itself: The Deteriorating State of Media Freedom in Turkey,”  Silk Road Studies Program, Central Asia-Caucasus Institute, February 6, 2012.
[85] Christophe Deloire and Joel Simon, “Turkey leads the world in jailing journalists,” Twin Cities, May 20, 2013.
[86] “Turkey falls to 154th in World Press Freedom Index,” France24, July 25, 2013.
[87] Oray Egin, “A Turkish pres gag: How Erdogan is suffocating journalists,”,  August 19, 2013.