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Islamist populism, Islamist fatwas, state transnationalism and Turkey’s diasporas
chapterposted on 20.01.2021, 00:00 authored by Ihsan YilmazIhsan Yilmaz
Turkey is currently going through a period of radical change, where a composite ideology of Islamist populism, nationalism and authoritarianism is being used by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). The AKP has increasingly resorted to using the mosque (through the Diyanet – the Directorate of Religious Affairs) and the schools (Imam Hatip schools, the national curriculum and Islamist educational foundations) to Islamise society and raise a generation of Islamists – the kind of desired citizens they envision will characterise the new regime. This chapter argues that the AKP has been actively pursuing strategies of transnational Islamist populism and heavily resorting to state transnationalism with the intention of exporting their composite ideology to Turkish diasporas throughout the world. Several valuable academic works have analysed the Islamist usage of the mosque, the school and political discourse, domestically and in foreign policy. However, unofficial Islamist fatwas and Islamist legal narrative constructions of the AKP have not been studied. In addition to examining the Islamist legal perspective, this chapter will also briefly look at the potential influence of this Islamist socio-legal phenomenon on Turkey’s diasporas in the West. By focusing on the fatwas issued by pro-AKP religious preachers, this study unveils the ideas the AKP uses to justify Islamist behaviour in Turkey today: the Islamist populist turn, the justification of corruption, the demonisation and securitisation of AKP’s opponents, and the top-down social engineering of society along Islamist lines. This study also offers preliminary findings on the impact that these fatwas have had on domestic Turks and Turks of the diaspora, and how the justification of the government’s wrongdoings through fatwas has affected Turkish people, including leading to an increase of radicalism.