The Rise of Political Islam in Turkey

The Rise of Political Islam in Turkey

The Rise of Political Islam in Turkey

The Rise of Political Islam in Turkey

Synopsis

Turkey, a Muslim-majority country, is pivotal to Western security interests in the Middle East. Its ruling party, the AKP, has Islamic roots but operates within a framework of strict secular democracy, which has generated controversy over the boundaries between secularism and religion. This monograph describes the politico-religious landscape in Turkey and evaluates how the balance between secular and religious forces has changed over the past decade.

Excerpt

Turkey is a Muslim-majority country that is also a secular democratic state, a member of nato, a candidate for membership in the European Union, a long-standing U.S. ally, and the host of İncirlik Air Base, a key hub for logistical support missions in Afghanistan and Iraq. As such, Turkey is pivotal to U.S. and Western security interests in a critical and unstable zone where the Middle East, the Balkans, and the Caucasus intersect. Turkey’s importance derives not only from its geopolitical position, but also from the example that it provides of the coexistence of Islam with secular democracy, globalization, and modernity. of course, the Turkish experiment with the rule of a party with Islamic roots, the Justice and Development Party (AKP), within a framework of strict secularism has generated controversies over the boundaries between secularity and religion in the public sphere—tensions that were brought to a head over the selection of the new president and that led to parliamentary elections, along with a new mandate for the party, in July 2007.

This monograph describes the politico-religious landscape in Turkey and the relationship between the state and religion, and it evaluates how the balance between secular and religious forces— and between the Kemalist elites and new emerging social groups— has changed over the past decade, particularly since the akp came to power in 2002. the study also assesses the new challenges and opportunities for U.S. policy in the changed Turkish political environment and identifies specific actions that the United States may undertake to advance the U.S. interest in a stable, democratic, and friendly Turkey . . .

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