Instrumentalization of Religious Conspiracy Theories in Politics of Victimhood: Narrative of Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs
journal contributionposted on 01.10.2021, 00:00 authored by Ihsan YilmazIhsan Yilmaz, Ismail Albayrak
While victimhood has been studied from very different perspectives, the question how secular nation states have instrumentalised religion for the politics of victimhood has not been studied. This paper addresses this gap in the literature on victimhood by analysing the empirical case of Turkey. As is well known, the constitutionally secular Turkish state, first under the rule of the Kemalists and now Erdoganists, has been using the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) to propagate the state ideology to the faithful. This paper shows that the Turkish state has recently been using Islam to construct and disseminate a religious victimhood narrative, mainly based on conspiracy theories via the Diyanet’s Friday sermons. To do this, the article investigates the texts, such as the sermons produced by the Diyanet that are read verbatim, in every mosque in Turkey during Friday prayers that are attended by more than half of the adult male population. The paper contributes to the victimhood literature by showing how religion, i.e., Islam, has been instrumentalised by a secular state in the construction of an Islamist populist and civilisationist victimhood narrative. Further studies are needed to see if and to what extent the Islamist victimhood narrative of the Turkish state has been impactful on the mosque-goers in the country.