The Islamic State’s New Year’s Eve bombing of an upscale nightclub in Istanbul has fuelled culture wars in Turkey and Israel and laid bare aspirations among youth in socially restrictive Muslim societies for more liberal lifestyles.
Turkey & Iran
There is a new brand of Muslim religious orthodoxy on the rise in places like Turkey, which seeks to engage modernity through the sincere religious belief of individuals. Neslihan Cevik uses the term “Muslimism” to set it apart from other trends. Neslihan Cevik‘s new book, Muslimism in Turkey and Beyond: Religion in the Modern World (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), identifies an important and fertile middle ground between fundamentalism and secularism. She discusses her research with STI in this interview.
Twin bombs in central Istanbul may not have targeted Besiktas JK’s newly refurbished Vodafone Arena stadium, but underscore the propaganda value of attacking a soccer match for both jihadist and non-jihadist groups. They also raise questions about counter-terrorism strategy. The Kurdistan Freedom Falcons, a splinter of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), claimed responsibility for Saturday’s blasts that targeted police on duty to maintain security at a match between top Turkish clubs Besiktas and Bursapor. Thirty-eight of the 30 people killed in the attacks were riot police.
In the past two decades, Turkey has emerged on the global scene. It has enjoyed dramatic economic growth that has catapulted it into the exclusive G20 club of major economies; and under the rule of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP), Turkey has enjoyed unprecedented political stability. For the past fifteen years, the AKP has formed a single-party government, a remarkable feat given Turkey’s tumultuous politics.The AKP’s tenure was at first lauded in the West as the triumph of democratic forces over semi-authoritarianism. The AKP inherited a system in which Turkey’s General Staff and high judiciary often dictated terms to officials….
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan holds Fethullah Gulen, the self-exiled conservative, leader of Hizmet, one of the world’s biggest Islamic movements, responsible for last month’s attempt to overthrow his democratically elected government. Erdogan asserts that Gulen’s followers infiltrated the military, police, judiciary, bureaucracy and education system as well as the media. In response, he has arrested tens of thousands and fired a similar number of military and police officers, judiciary personnel, teachers and professors, and bureaucrats accused of being Gulen sympathisers. Erdogan’s claim is not without reason even if elements of the deep state, a cabal of ultra-nationalist politicians, officers and…
Believers say he preaches a new, modern form of Islam. Critics charge he is a power hungry wolf in sheep’s clothing preparing to convert secular Turkey into an Islamic republic; a conspirator who has created a state within the state and attempted this weekend to topple democratically elected Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a failed military coup.
The opening of a court case against Turkish soccer star Hakan Sukur on charges of insulting the president takes Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s autocratic ambitions back to their origins: an Islamist power struggle with exiled preacher Fethullalh Gulen that erupted five years ago on the pitch. A soccer player-turned-politician who in 2011 was elected to parliament as a representative of Mr. Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), Mr. Sukur stands accused of asserting in February 2015 that the president was guilty of theft. Mr. Sukur, who sided with Mr. Gulen in his dispute with Mr. Erdogan, was referring to charges in…
The Iranians, heirs to the ancient civilization of Persia which stretches back into the mists of time, have inherited both its ruthless and its subtle and devious ways of achieving its purposes. Persia was once the superpower of the ancient world, and Iran’s current repressive Islamist rulers seek again the hegemony the nation once enjoyed. Undeterred by apparent reversals of fortune, they are relentless in their pursuit of their objectives – jihad against western values in general, and the US and Israel in particular; jihad against Sunni states and peoples whom they regard as apostates against the true faith of…
Battles for control of stadiums and other public spaces in Turkey and Egypt have pitched militant soccer fans against authoritarian leaders determined to limit the supporters’ ability to challenge their authority. As a result, a struggle that comes on the back of years of confrontation in the stadiums and mass, watershed anti-government protests that in 2011 toppled Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and in 2013 rocked Turkey and reinforced President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s autocratic instincts, has moved beyond stadiums. In Egypt, general-turned-president Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi inaugurated a new office of the Interior Ministry at the Police Academy in New Cairo, east…
Quite why or how it happened has yet to be fully determined, but the early years of the 21st century have seen the Middle East morph into a gigantic battleground. Political and religious antagonisms, both ancient and newly conceived, have flared into armed conflict in a dozen places across the region. The ancient fault line within Islam, present from the earliest days of the faith but quiescent for long periods of time, has suddenly become one of the defining elements of the turmoil – the Sunni-Shia divide. Saudi Arabia, with Mecca and Medina within its borders, is the flag-bearer for…