Turkey: The Islamist-Secularist Divide

by Binnaz Toprak, Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science and International Relations, Bogazici University, Istanbul, Turkey

In April 2007 and the months that followed, there were several demonstrations, organized by NGOs, against what the demonstrators perceived as a serious threat to the secular foundations of the Turkish Republic. Directed against the policies of the ruling AKP government, and in particular its stand on the election of a new President, these demonstrations were a few weeks apart, the first held in the capital city of Ankara, the second held in Turkey’s largest city, Istanbul, followed by others in various Anatolian towns. Although estimates differ over the number of demonstrators—between 300,000 and one million people attended the Istanbul meeting—everyone agreed that these demonstrations, with their endless rows of crowds, were the largest in the history of the Republic. In the aftermath of events, the foreign press reported that the demonstrations revealed the division of the country into “two Turkeys.”

Turkey: The I slamist-Secularist Divide.

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