Insight Turkey Debate IV: The Future of Islamism in Turkey

Insight Turkey Debate IV

November 20, 2012 Tuesday

The Future of Islamism in Turkey

Authors featured in the most recent issue of Insight Turkey, the country’s leading English-language peer-reviewed journal, discussed “The Future of Islamism in Turkey

Moderated by Prof. Ihsan Dağı, Insight Turkey Editor-in-Chief, the session featured Mümtaz’er Türköne (Fatih University, Zaman Daily), Ergün Yıldırım (Yıldız Technical University) and Yasin Aktay (Selçuk University, Institute of Strategic Thinking).

Ergün Yıldırım‘s address, Plural Islamisms and Plural Modernities, focused on the problem of defining Islamism and pointed out that the term is frequently subjected to minimalist or exclusionist attitudes. Emphasizing the importance of historicity in defining Islamism, the author identified at least three distinct periods over the past century: While Islamism aimed at “saving the state” during the Ottoman Empire’s final years, the movement focused on “establishing the state” as the nation-state emerged. Similarly, the movement directed its attention to “transforming the state” from the 1990s onwards. Yıldırım also maintained that Islamism took a recent turn from revolutionary attitudes to reformism.

Mümtaz’er Türköne’s presentation on The Birth and Death of Islamism proclaimed that Islamism, an inherently dissenting movement, died with its recent advent to political power in Turkey. Having offered a survey of Islamists’ rise to power, the author commented that two central figures, Said-i Nursi and Sayyid Qutb, exerted major influence on Turkey’s Islamists –both of whom, he argued, failed to reach the masses due to their emphasis on political power.

Finally, Yasin Aktay’s speech, The ‘Ends’ of Islamism and Rethinking its Meaning, criticized Islamism’s interpretation as an anti-Western movement –an approach that he believes to disassociate the movement from Islam. Aktay also made the point that Islamism must not be viewed as a constant, unchangeable entity and instead ought to be regarded as a dynamic movement.