The change in official Islam in Turkey: an analysis of friday sermons published by the presidency of religious affairs
Akalın, Ömer (2016) The change in official Islam in Turkey: an analysis of friday sermons published by the presidency of religious affairs. [Thesis]
The cleavage between the secular Kemalists and the political Islamists has been salient throughout the history of Republican Turkey. On the one hand, an identity based on Turkish nationalism and laicisim put forward by the Kemalist elite during the inception of the Republic has been prevalent in state institutions. On the other hand, a movement which aims to revive Islam as an identity both socially and politically has risen in response to this Kemalist project. An important institution established during the early years of the Republic, which aimed at disseminating official Islam, is the Presidency of Religious Affairs (Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı, DİB). Within the context of the Kemalist-Islamist cleavage, this thesis aims to show how the official Islam adopted by the DİB has changed. Specifically, the DİB has moved from representing the Kemalist idea of Islam to representing the version of Islam adopted by the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, AKP), successors to the political Islam movement. The thesis argues that AKP has achieved this change through a process of “desecularization”, once it reached “commanding heights” after the 2010 Constitutional Referendum. To show this change, 696 Friday sermons published by the Istanbul Müftü’s Office (İstanbul İl Müftülüğü) are analyzed using a mixed methods approach. The analysis finds that there is a clear distinction between the two periods analyzed across various themes, such as the idea of the nation, ethnicity, terrorism and science.
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