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June 08, 2012, Friday

The crisis in conservative archipelagos

Traditionally conservative segments of Turkish society have been fragmented into various religious groups and networks. These groups for a long time kept their distance from each other.

 From time to time these groups enter into an intense rivalry with one another. On a few occasions we have witnessed this competition turning into confrontations or even fights breaking out between these groups.

Yet in the last 10 years these groups have agreed on one thing: supporting the Justice and Development Party (AKP) against the establishment. Thus, during this period the AKP has become a complex bridge between these archipelagos.

Many observers, instead of focusing on each island and trying to understand what motivates each island to allow the AKP to put a foot of the bridge on their territory, portray the AKP as a unified island. Over the last 10 years, some AKP members, including leaders, too, have started to think the AKP has glued the archipelagos together to make one big island.

Some AKP leaders have even been expecting appreciations for their effort and “brilliant” strategy to bring these islands closer. Some have gone so far as to establish their own community (cemaat) by using state funding to make sure that the AKP would emerge as the one, united, social and political group (cemaat) instead of being a political party.

Such attempts by AKP leaders do not work with the nature of how cemaats emerge in Turkey. In a way, AKP leaders have been trying to establish an “artificial cemaat” so that they could operate around the Muslim world.

Since the AKP has forgotten about its “bridge” role between these conservative archipelagos and tried to adopt an umbrella role over these groups, conservative politics in Turkey has been in crisis. As expected, the disconnected islands did not want to unite under the umbrella of the AKP, which created a fuss among the members of the archipelagos.

The second reason why the “bridge” no longer functions over these islands is related to how the AKP treats the members of each island. Instead of being a bridge to connect the islands to each other and most importantly to the rest of the world, the AKP in recent times has started worrying about the activities of some islands.

The reason why the AKP after 10 years of being in power started to worry is because the AKP is no longer satisfied with functioning as a bridge between these island. AKP leaders consider the AKP as the leader, the sultan of the Muslim world, and they think that they would do better if they broke down the bridge and built one big island at the expense of losing some islands.

This is how we could describe the deep crisis in Turkish politics. As long as the AKP continues to assume this new role instead of being a bridge over these archipelagos, the crisis will deepen.

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