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Instrumentalizing Islam in a ‘secular’ state: Turkey’s Diyanet and interfaith dialogue
journal contributionposted on 01.01.2020, 00:00 authored by Ihsan YilmazIhsan Yilmaz, James BarryJames Barry
This paper analyses how interfaith dialogue was interpreted by the Turkish state’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) over several administrations. Mirroring changes in attitude within the state, the Diyanet began promoting interfaith dialogue in mid-1990s. The Islamist-inspired AKP administration continued this stance after its election in 2002. However, as the AKP leadership adopted a more authoritarian and anti-western tone after 2011, they changed their policy on interfaith dialogue. Through a political analysis and a content analysis of Diyanet texts and Friday sermons, this paper will discuss policy on interfaith dialogue to show how Islam has been used for social engineering by the nominally secular Turkish state. This paper contributes to literature on secularism by examining how an aggressively secular state has instrumentalized religion to meet its political needs.