May 15 2018

Erdoğan’s Islamism is a nativist movement – analyst

Soner Çağaptay, program director at the Washington Institute think tank, wrote that the brand of Islamism espoused by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) was a nativistic movement that regarded only fellow Islamists as true Turks.

“Erdogan and other AKP cadres view only those that embrace political Islam as representing the people's will, as well as being the true inheritors of Turkey,” he wrote.

“According to this Weltanschauung, the AKP's detractors, nearly half the country, constituting around 40 million people, stand for alien and imported foreign interests. For them, the opposition groups are ‘proxies’ for outside actors conspiring to undermine Erdogan's agenda of making Turkey great again.”

In this sense, Çağaptay said, Erdoğan became a prototype of the new nativism that has swept the world in recent years.

Political Islamists of this type, he said, rejected all “foreign” ideologies as what had been keeping Turkey down.

“Turkey's transformation would not be premised on a foreign ideology. The country's salvation had to derive from the stock of traditions and ideas that had made the Turks great in past centuries—for conservatives, this meant understanding the necessity of Islamic guidance to politics,” Çağaptay said.

“This native political movement would embody the essence of the Turkish nation against its opponents; only such a movement could succeed in making Turkey great again.”