Turkey: Creeping authoritarianism

Behind Bars in the Deep State

For many Turkish citizens, the evolution of their democracy is best discussed in whispers. Turkey has come far in recent years, but these days they prefer not to speak too loudly about where it is headed.

In the past two years, thousands of citizens who have voiced criticism of the government have been detained, usually led away by police in predawn raids on their homes. On Jan. 5, one of the country’s most high-profile detainees, investigative journalist Ahmet Sik, testified in court for the first time to defend himself against charges of propagandizing for a shadowy pro-military conspiracy called Ergenekon, which allegedly plotted to overthrow the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Foreign Policy, January 11, 2012

Kurdish youth ponder the prospect of peace

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey // For nearly three decades, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party has waged one of the world’s bloodiest insurgencies against the Turkish government, in a bid for autonomy and greater rights for the country’s Kurdish minority.

So when Abullah Ocalan, the leader of the militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), called for a ceasefire on Thursday, it was greeted with widespread praise and cautious optimism.

The National, March 23, 2013

Analysis: Turkey’s divisive Ergenekon trial

Istanbul, Turkey – On August 5, 2013, a court in Silivri, a small town outside of Istanbul, sentenced 19 current and former military officers to life in prison after finding them guilty of being part of a cadre that aimed to overthrow Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

The group, named Ergenekon after a mythical Central Asian valley connected to Turkish nationalist lore, was described as consisting of members of the armed forces and civilians in the media, academia, and opposition political parties. They were accused of being part of a secret “deep state” and were said to view themselves as the protectors of Turkey’s national identity and the secular values of the country’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

Al Jazeera, August 12, 2013

Georgia: Gülen Schools Flourishing

When the topics of conversation turn to Turkey and Islam, tempers can sometimes flare in the South Caucasus country of Georgia. Even so, a movement founded by the charismatic Turkish theologian Fetullah Gϋlen has found a welcoming community in this emphatically Christian country.

Gϋlen, a controversial, US-based Turkish religious leader, recently named by Time Magazine as one of the world’s 100 most influential people, heads a civic movement “rooted in the spiritual and humanistic tradition of Islam” that operates charter schools in 140 countries worldwide.

EurasiaNet, May 6, 2013

Turkey’s dual cause in northern Iraq

Nothing encapsulates the foreign policy of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) better than the presence of more than 1,000 Turkish companies in Kurdish northern Iraq, which are reconstructing the region at a breakneck pace and planning to stay on to reap further rewards as the region develops.

business new europe, July 15, 2010

Turkey: A Peek Inside a Gulen School

With conservative Muslim believers becoming more visible in Turkey these days, a movement founded by a charismatic Islamic theologian, Fetullah Gülen, is attracting increasing outside interest. The Gülen movement’s public profile is defined mainly by a worldwide network of schools that it operates, yet little is known about the inner workings of the organization’s educational component.

EurasiaNet, May 10, 2012

Turkey: How Durable is Gülen Movement?

Turkish spiritual leader Fethullah Gülen, 72, has long been rumored to be in a precarious state of health. But well-informed followers offer assurances that the international network of schools, businesses, media-outlets, and civil-society organizations that his movement has built is prepared for a stable transition.

EurasiaNet, April 11, 2013

Secularists forge indelible link to Ataturk

ISTANBUL // The flourish of ink jumps out amid the crowds on the teeming Istiklal pedestrian street and on ferries making their rounds across the Bosphorus, the distinctive flow of the signature instantly recognisable.

With increasing frequency a tattoo of the signature “K. Ataturk” can be seen on the bodies of Turks, a show of support for the late Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the modern Turkish republic and the symbol of the country’s secular establishment. But as Turkey’s Islamist government grows ever stronger and Ataturk’s legacy appears to diminish, many secular Turks are becoming more vocal – and more visual – in their support of the late army general’s legacy.

The National, July 29, 2010

Political Islam has many faces in Turkey

Though the country’s opposition has accused them of possessing a secret, long-term plan to establish an Islamic state in Turkey, the AKP is officially a secular political party. In mass media they are usually described as “Islamic-rooted” or coming from an “Islamic background” or another variation of this vague categorization

Asia Times, November 17, 2010

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