Talking Turkey: After Banning of Virtue, Nationalism Takes over Where Islamism Left Off

By Gorvett, Jon | Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, September 3, 2001 | Go to article overview

Talking Turkey: After Banning of Virtue, Nationalism Takes over Where Islamism Left Off


Gorvett, Jon, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs


TALKING TURKEY: After Banning of Virtue, Nationalism Takes Over Where Islamism Left Off

Jon Gorvett is a free-lance writer based in Istanbul.

Eight years ago this July, in the central Turkish city of Sivas, 33 writers and intellectuals were burned to death in a hotel fire started by a fundamentalist mob.

The "Sivas incident," as it became known, was one of the worst political massacres in recent Turkish history. Until then, some secular, mainly leftist, public figures had been subject to periodic armed attack from religious extremists, but with Sivas, it seemed that this age-old conflict had erupted into a major new form. The alarm bells started to go off--not just in Ankara, but in the U.S. and Europe, too.

Concurrent with this apparent upsurge in fundamentalist violence, in the early 1980s it seemed political Islam also was becoming unstoppable. In 1984 the pro-Islamist Welfare Party won control of Istanbul in the municipal elections. A year after that, the party swept to national victory, forming a government in coalition with an opportunist center-right party. Necemettin Erbakan, for years the bogey man of Turkey's staunchly secular military and bureaucratic establishments, became prime minister.

Now, however, a few years down the road, the picture seems a quite different one. In late June, the Constitutional Court banned Welfare's successor, Virtue, with hardly a ripple appearing on the Turkish political pond. Never mind that Virtue was the country's largest opposition party, with some 100 deputies in the 550-seat parliament, nor the fact that its mayors run both Istanbul and Ankara city halls.

While the court judges had timed their decision so that it would be announced after the markets had closed on a Friday evening, it seemed they needn't have bothered, for when the markets reopened Monday morning, they showed every sign of being more buoyant than they had been for weeks.

Meanwhile, on the streets of Istanbul and Ankara, not a single protest was held, while the most Virtue leader Recai Kutan could do was say he was "bitterly disappointed" before leading a silent walk-out of Virtue deputies from the assembly.

Virtue was banned on the grounds that it had become the "center for fundamentalist activity." Five of its deputies were given personal bans as well, disqualifying them from parliament and leaving one--the wine-drinking, non-headscarf-wearing Nazli Ilicak--open to military court action for criticisms of the generals made while under parliamentary immunity. The non-banned Virtue deputies retained their seats but became "independents," losing all their positions on parliamentary committees. Leadership of the opposition passed to the one party remaining, Tansu Ciller's True Path--a group which barely managed to get enough votes to ensure any representation at all at the last general election.

"Deputy chief constitutional judge Hasim Kilic said a day before the verdict that this was a political case," wrote the respected columnist Cengiz Candar in the daily Yeni Safak. "He then added that they were trying to make this political case fit the legal terms. The fact is that the social reality of the six million Turks who voted for Virtue is now being ruled out."

Columnists and commentators generally were united in their condemnation of the closure decision. Virtue had gone out of its way to distance itself from any fundamentalist activity, had always played by the quirky rules of Turkish democracy, and had most likely even succeeded in pulling into peaceful political activity social groups which in other circumstances or countries might have turned to more violent extremes. Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit said the court ruling had "upset" him deeply, while the other party leaders also expressed their disagreement with the decision.

So who wanted Virtue closed? Mainly, it seems--aside from the more extreme secularists in the military and the bureaucracy--it was Virtue itself that was most interested in being banned. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Talking Turkey: After Banning of Virtue, Nationalism Takes over Where Islamism Left Off
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.