Date posted: January 9, 2014
Growing tension between the government and the Hizmet (Gülen) movement will have lasting impacts on Turkish Islamism. The conflict is taking place between two groups that are pretty close to each other.
The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) is a political party; for this reason, it views the Islamic references it relies on as political ideology. The Gülen movement, on the other hand, is a social movement that mobilizes religiosity and uses it as a source of energy. These two groups share the same state of emotional affairs and lifestyles. The Gülen movement is trying to protect itself from the repressive power within the state. The AK Party, on the other hand, seems determined to eliminate this movement and take it under its control by relying on the state apparatus. This is a fairly intricate situation for those who do not pay much attention to religious references.
For over three decades, the elimination of a secular order and the establishment of a state order based on religious rules has been the main axis of political discussions. The current situation shows that there is no solution or remedy other than secularism that can protect groups from each other. We have a situation that requires the reconsideration of all clichés. The disagreement is not between secular and religious groups, but it is taking place between religious circles. A religious and social movement that stays away from politics needs the principle of secularism in order to protect itself against attacks by a state that an Islamic ruling party controls. If the government remains distant vis-à-vis the different faiths and does not try to make its own strand acceptable by others, this disagreement would not emerge.
Years ago, I wrote about the discussions over secularism and said that secularism is a must to protect Muslims against Muslims. As a general rule, secular circles created secularism as a shield against the rise of conservative circles. But, on the contrary, during the terms of the AK Party, the sphere of freedoms of those circles bothered by religious pressure was expanded. In the end, the most destructive conflict erupted among the conservatives. Secularism is the only principle that would stop this fatal conflict for the AK Party administration. The most heated discussion last year focused on the fate of Islamism once it came to power. I argued that Islamism existed as a political opposition and that it would disappear once it came to power; I referred to the AK Party as a materialization of this argument. Islamism is now in power; it gave up on all political arguments and attributed a different source of legitimacy to the state. And like any other political administration, its image was undermined. Today, the disagreement between the AK Party and the Gülen movement is not an ideological disagreement between two religious groups. It is a power struggle where the movement is in defensive mode and the ruling party seeks to destroy its opponent. The AK Party consolidated its power by eliminating all of its opponents and rivals. In response to the resistance by the movement to protect its autonomy, it initiated a destructive attack when it attempted to shut down prep schools.
As a political party, the AK Party should have made moves to attract the votes of the members of the movement rather than eliminating it. On the other hand, it would have been sufficient for the movement, which has not been involved in politics so far, to be assured of the state. The AK Party started the war and, contrary to its political interests, it positioned itself against its voters.
The ongoing crisis shows that the disagreements between the religious groups can be resolved by impartiality of the state. In the meantime, Islamism proved to be a project that uses faith as a tool of power and that denies the rights of other religious interpretations; so it failed. In short, this discussion shows that Islamism is now dead.
Source: Todays Zaman , January 4, 2014