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Unformatted text preview: Alternatives: Turkish Journal of International Relations, Vol. 5, No.3, Fall 2006 1 The Welfare Party, Turkish Nationalism and Its Vision of a New World Order* Cengiz Dinç** Thanks primarily to the dedicated work of the core group of its supporters, the Welfare Party (WP) managed to become the most important Islamist group in Turkey in mid-1990s and tried to give its color to the rising Islamism. This showed that in recent decades, an important part of Turkish society came to see certain versions of Islamism as a solution to their problems. The WP strongly contributed to articulation of a broad Islamist discourse that was very critical of the path that Turkish modernization took under the rule of the secular elite. In other words, the WP elite had a distinct understanding of the modern concepts brought about by the Turkish modernization project. This article tries to analyze the religious nationalism of the WP and how it differed from the dominant, relatively secular nationalism in Turkey, by paying a special attention to the WP elite’s views as directly expressed in their writings, speeches or as faithfully reported on a day to day basis in publications close to the party (e.g. Milli Gazete ). The WP elite’s view with regard to nationalism occupied an important place in their view about core aspects of modernity. It is crucial to explore these views both to understand the recent past of Turkey and also the background of the present developments. The article also analyzes the WP’s vision of a new world order as an interrelated area to its religious nationalism. The WP argued that the current world system was harming Turkey and other Muslim countries and its discourse implied that a unity of Muslims would put an end to this situation. According to the WP, Muslims had to have the consciousness that they were part of the Islamic community (ummah). Globalization was Alternatives: Turkish Journal of International Relations, Vol. 5, No.3, Fall 2006 2 interpreted as a process enabling increasing intra-ummah co-operation. The Welfare Party and Turkish Nationalism Similar to the views of other Islamist movements in the region the WP discourse portrayed (secular) nationalism as an alien and divisive ideology for the Muslims. 1 The main argument of the WP as far as nationalism in Turkey was concerned can be summarized in following terms: The most important and worthy base of people’s identity in Turkey has been Islam 2 . The secular nationalist elite has promoted other sources of identity (e.g. Turkishness) as a counter force against Islam; this trend had to be stopped. Thus, the WP’s conception of the nation with its emphasis on Islam differed from the secular nationalism, 3 which has been dominant in the republican era, as the mainstream parties on the left and right subscribed to it. As Ali Bulaç and some other Islamist writers observe, since the 1970s, the Islamists in Turkey tried successfully to “free” their understanding of the nation from the relatively secular nationalism of...
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This note was uploaded on 02/01/2012 for the course GENBUS 304 taught by Professor Greed during the Fall '11 term at Boise State.
- Fall '11