Totalitarian Islamist poet inspires Turkey’s Erdoğan – think-tank

A recent speech by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on the United States moving its Israel embassy to Jerusalem “betrayed more than meets the eye”, said Svante Cornell, the director of the American Foreign Policy Council’s Central Asia-Caucasus Institute.

“Erdoğan uttered his warning at the awards celebrating the Islamist poet and writer Necip Fazıl Kısakürek (1904-83), who was the intellectual mentor not only for Erdoğan, but for a large portion of the current political elite in Turkey,” he wrote.

Kısakürek, who put out tabloids and magazines known for their bombast and Islamist yellow journalism, advocated “a political system led by an “exalted ruler” – a totalitarian Islamist and nationalist regime built on Sunni Islam and Turkish ethnicity, which envisaged the ethnic cleansing of other, less desirable groups”, Cornell said, along with a purge of what he saw as crypto-Jews from the country.

But while Kısakürek was a marginal figure in his own time, appealing to a limited audience both in terms of his literary and political output, today he has become a key reference point for the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, Cornell said.

“Turkish cabinet ministers regularly sing his praises. Erdoğan himself once cited Kısakürek as the single person who influenced him the most,” he said.

Despite Kısakürek being noticeably uncommitted in his personal life to Islamic values, his vision for a national-Islamic Turkey has spread with the power of Islamist governments.

“The Islamist ideology that Kısakürek represents has become mainstream in Turkey. It is no longer marginal; in fact, it is actively propagated by many of Turkey’s media, schools and mosques,” Cornell said.


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