Insight Turkey Volume 19 No. 1, 2017
The National Outlook movement (NO, Milli Görüş), to which several political parties were affiliated throughout Turkey’s political history, stood for decades as the main representative of Islamism in the country. The national identity envisioned by Milli Görüş had very important implications for the field of foreign relations. During the two decades between the 1960 and the 1980 coups, for the first time in Turkish republican history, new circumstances allowed a free debate on foreign policy issues to emerge. The 1961 Constitution
allowed a “liberalization of the political spectrum,” and the translation of many foreign ideological texts, including the Islamist ones, affected the Turkish context. Religion became more visible and important within the country’s political process.
For most Turkish Islamists, both inside and outside the NO, belonging to the Turkish nation was ideologically subordinate to their belonging within the transnational Islamic community, glorifying Turkey’s leading role due to its Ottoman legacy notwithstanding.
The Kemalist project of cutting ties with the Muslim world to bolster the Republic’s Western orientation was for the Islamists a violence inflicted on the genuine identity of the Turks as members of the umma (the community of Muslim believers), forerunners of the Muslim world and heirs to the Ottoman State.