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Political Islam played an important role in the previous three decades of Turkish political life. It is now time to declare the failure of political Islam and its gradual disappearance from the Turkish political scene. The ruling party, Justice and Development, sealed the fate of political Islam after it appropriated a conservative-democrat identity. This essay deals with four key assumptions on the political Islam that may help us to understand why political Islam in Turkey is on the verge of disappearing. An important legacy of Ottoman patrimonial state tradition is the perception of politics as a negative phenomenon and belonging to the state realm (Mardin: 1973, 173). Politics from the people’s side is something that is pursued against the state and problems with the state are unavoidable for those involved, up to the loss of life (siyaseten katl) (Sencer: 1974, 85-96). Although it has changed to a certain extent, the remnants of this understanding survive. The repressive state policies, in particular of the single party era, fed this understanding and accordingly Islamists searched for non-political sub-realms of the public sphere. This situation led to the emergence of an alternative religious public sphere, which consisted of the private sphere and available sub-realms of public sphere. For example, the Nur (light) Movement pursued their activities through private reading circles, printed media and even attempted to use state radio when conditions were suitable.

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Bülent Aras
Bülent Aras
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