- August 3, 2008
Turkey’s AKP escapes ban, tensions disguise ‘Islamo-secular convergence’
The case against the AK Party, re-elected with 47 percent of the vote last year, has been described as “a brazen conspiracy to undo the liberal reforms” recently implemented as part of
Although the party would probably have re-emerged under a new name, a ban would have undercut efforts to promote reform and democracy in the Middle East, warned F. Stephen Larrabee, co-author of a recent analysis of Turkish Islam. Moderate Islamists in the
The current crisis cannot be reduced to a struggle between secularists and Islamists, but is in fact a power struggle between elites, Omer Taspinar, director of the Brookings’ Turkey Project, told a recent
The AK party’s illiberal tendencies have come to the fore in its second term of office, according to Chatham House analyst Fadi Hakura, as it has “resorted to Islamic populism and confrontational, majoritarian politics.” But he is hopeful that recent trends, notably an Islamo-secular convergence, suggest that the country “could be on the cusp of a novel style of politics, emerging as a phoenix from the gathering ashes of the ideologues’ battles.” He notes that the Office for Religious Affairs or Diyanet, is engaged in a comprehensive re-interpretation of Islamic texts.
The AK Party’s critics may have legitimate concerns about creeping authoritarian or Islamizing tendencies, but a judicial coup is an inappropriate and illegitimate response. Instead, the AKP’s opponents “should be working towards the establishment of a legitimate political opposition and demanding reforms that will safeguard institutional checks and balances,” argues Diba Nigar Goksel, senior analyst at the European Stability Initiative.