A non-government information service on Turkey
Un service d'information non-gouvernemental sur la Turquie


18th Year - N°210
April 1994
38 rue des Eburons - 1000 Bruxelles
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 Rédacteur en chef: Dogan Özgüden - Editrice responsable: Inci Tugsavul


    The Extreme-Right block confirmed its climb in Turkey by increasing its votes from 13.90% to 28.66% in five years. However all the right-wing political leaders and the Army chiefs have been accomplices in the Islamist rise since 1946. This file is a compilation of the information published until now by Info-Türk that has persistently drawn attention to the rise of Islam Fundamentalism in Turkey since the 1980 military coup. 

    After the shocking results of the March 27, 1994, confirming the never ending rise of the Extreme Right, particularly Islam Fundamentalism, many observers ask if Turkey may be a second Algeria in near future. The fact that the Extreme Right, after having raised its total vote from 13.90% in 1989 to 28.66% in 1994, is currently ruling 34 out of the country's 76 provincial centres, the Welfare Party (RP) in 28 provinces including Ankara and Istanbul and the Nationalist Action Party (MHP) in three provinces, may give reason to such a question.
    It is too early to attribute a FIS image to the RP, because the latter has already been an integrated part of Turkish political system for over twenty years and took part few times in coalition governments, even once with Ecevit’s social democrat CHP.
    Nevertheless, RP leader Necmeddin Erbakan always speaks of replacing the secular order by an Islamic order and attacks very often the European Community, qualifying it as the fifth column of the Zionism. Furthermore, despite its anti-imperialist and anti-American rhetoric, it is also well known that the RP has always had close religious, political, economic and financial relations with Saudi Arabia, the champion of Islamic fundamentalism and the closest ally of the USA in the Islamic world.
    So, encouraged by the growing popular support, RP may adopt in future a more radical fundamentalist stand and lead the country to the Saudi model. What is more, with its political power in Turkey, it may play a bigger role in imposing Islamic fundamentalism to the Turkic republics and the Turkish communities of the Balkans.
    Already, after their electoral success, the RP and MHP militants did not delay to stage  violent demonstrations in Istanbul and Ankara on pretext of protesting against the Serbs' attack on the Bosnian town of Gorazde.
    Everything started on April 10, 1994, with the Fundamentalist TV channel, TGRT, broadcasting unconfirmed reports concerning alleged "genocide" against Bosnian Muslims. Rumour was spread that the Serbs were using chemical weapons, claiming some 6,000 of Bosnian Muslims had been killed.
    What is more incredible, Prime Minister Tansu Ciller, without feeling the need to consult the Foreign Ministry on the reliability of the early reports did not hesitate to give statements suggesting this information was true. "I learned with deepest regret and horror that Serbs, surrounding the Bosnian Muslim town of Gorazde, used chemical weapons in an attack during which a great number of civilians, children and elderly were killed," she said.
    Thereupon, thousands of Islamists and Ultra-nationalists rushed to the main squares of Istanbul and Ankara by shouting blood-thirsty slogans and resorting to violent acts. In Ankara the main targets were the United National building —which was pelted with rocks and forced to take down its flag to appease the crowds—, the US Embassy —whose grounds were entered and windows smashed— and the Russian trade mission which was also showered with rocks.
    They also attacked the Turkish Radio and Television's (TRT) building and the DYP headquarters with both also having their windows smashed, reporters and cameramen jostled and kicked.
    After the events, RP leader Erbakan, criticising the government for being a "lackey of the West," said: "If you continue to be a lackey, people will rise and demonstrate in Istanbul and Ankara."
    Arguing that there will be no calm or stability in the country until Turkey accepts the RP's "just order", Erbakan added: "Turkey will definitely pass to a just order. Sixty million people will decide if this transition will be easy, difficult, sweet or bloody."


    Although the RP has now the privilege of representing Islam in the political field, the rise of Islam Fundamentalism in Turkey cannot be attributed to the RP alone. 
    After a 20-year period of Kemalist and pro-Western reforms, Islam spontaneously regained ground in Turkey during the passage to a multi-party system as a means of opposition of the impoverished peasant masses. Islam reinforced its influence due to the fact that almost all political parties counted on the card of Islam for gaining over believers.
    It was already in 40s that President Ismet Inönü, closest comrade of Atatürk,  gave first important concessions to the Islamist movement by opening religious schools and closing secular oriented peasant institutes.
    One of the first things the DP Government of Menderes did when it came to power in 1950 was to authorise to call to prayer in Arab instead of Turkish and to encourage the construction of mosques and the organization of underground tarikats (religious orders).
    In Sixties, the AP Government of Demirel did its best to involve these tarikats in daily politics and to use them to counter the rising progressive and socialist movements in Turkey.
    Even today, by the side of the RP and the MHP, all other Right-wing leaders, including Turkey's first woman Prime Minister Ciller, are using each occasion to give an Islamist and Ultra-nationalist image.
    Prior to the 1980 Coup, the Turkish Extreme-Right developed in two different currents: Pan-Turkism  organized within the Nationalist Action Party (MHP), on the one hand, on the other Islamic Fundamentalism  organized within the National Salvation Party (MSP) and supported by Saudi Arabia.
    While the Grey Wolves,  propagating the superiority of Turkish race,  advocated to unite all peoples of Turkish origin, including Moslem peoples of the Soviet Union and the Bazlkans, and Turkish migrants in the West,  within an empire called Turan, the  Islam Fundamentalists, rejecting a unity on race basis, raised the idea of the unification of Moslem peoples, including before mentioned Turks, within a religious community to be headed by Saudi Arabia.
    The radicalisation of the Islam in Turkey gained impetus after Saudi Arabia, with the open support by the United States aiming to counter progressive and nationalist movement in the Islamic world, began to take under its influence other Islamic countries by the means of  the Rabitat-ul-Alem-ul-Islam (World Islam League) in 60s and 70s. (The World Islam League has its European centre in Brussels, at the Cinquantenaire Park and has benefited from many facilities and privileges offered by Belgian authorities.)
    It is in Seventies that the Islam radicalism created its political organization, the National Salvation Party (MSP) and entered Parliament and even governments.
    The Iranian Revolution gave the second impetus to the Islamic fundamentalism in 80s. Benefiting at the same time from the military junta’s concessions aiming to use Muslim masses against progressive forces, it could easily infiltrate into all public services and institutions.
    Both currents, despite their differences,  have always been supported by the United States and the Turkish big business in a view to counter the rise of progressive and anti-imperialist movements in Turkey.
    After the 1980 coup, to put an end to conflict between the two flanks of Extreme-Right and to enlarge its mass basis, the military reshaped the legislation and structures of the Turkish State in conformity with the thesis of Turco-Islamic Synthesis. This thesis stipulates to promote the traditional values of Turkish race and the principles of Islam.
    The 1982 Constitution and other laws enacted by the military junta, disrespecting the secularity of the State, increased the influence of Islam in social and cultural plans. It is the first time in the history of the Republic that the Islamic courses in the secondary education were made obligatory even for the children of non-Moslem families. Consequently, the finance holdings and foundations set up by Islamist circles in collaboration with Saudi capital have become dominant in the Turkish economy. During the military operations against the Kurdish Guerrilla, the Army declaring its adversary  the enemy of Islam, called the Muslim Kurds to join the Jihad (Holy War) that it led. (For the rebirth and rise of Islamic Fundamentalism, see: Intégrisme islamique en Turquie et immigration, Info-Türk, 1987; The Extreme Right in Turkey, Info-Türk, 1988, and Turcs de Belgique, Info-Türk, 1992)


    The number of the concessions given to fundamentalists  and ultra-nationalists extremely increased especially after Özal's Government came to power.
    On September 11, 1984, The Times reported:
    "In particular they have taken effective control of the State Radio and TV Corporation (TRT), whose new director was formerly a senior figure in the MHP. Another former MHP member is secretary of the Ministry of Employment. The last development, even more sinister, is the appointment of two deputy directors of the National Police Force, one of whom was in charge of the torture centre in Ankara during the previous military regime in 1971 and has since then been kept out of sight, while the other's name was found among the secret documents of the MHP as the future director of the National Police Force had the MHP captured power. Such appointments raise the question whether the 1980 intervention was really a comprehensive defeat for terrorism as its authors claimed."   
    When Ozal founded his Motherland Party (ANAP) in 1983, a former MHP sympathiser, Mustafa Tasar was entrusted with the function of Secretary-General.
    Within the first Ozal government, well-known sympathisers of the defunct MHP were numerous: State Minister Halil Sivgin, State Minister Kazim Oksay, State Minister Mesut Yilmaz, Minister of Communication Veysel Atasoy and Under-Secretary Hasan Celal Güzel.
    Besides, former neo-fascist activists were elected mayors in many important cities, such as Ankara, Erzincan, Erzurum, Adapazari, Bingöl, Elazig, Yozgat, Gaziantep, Antakya and Kastamonu. (Info-Türk, N°146,  December 1988)
    The  Motherland Party (ANAP) Congress, held on June 20-25, 1988, in Ankara, reaffirmed the pre-eminence of the Turco-Islamic Synthesis within this party.
    Although Prime Minister Ozal presented his party to the West as a liberal, pro-Western party, this profile could not hide the fact that the ANAP's hard-core  derived from former Neo-fascist or Islamist politicians who were later united within a "Holy Alliance".
    Speeches by the majority of the delegates with their strong religious tones, left no room for the expression of liberal trends. Prayers were recited from the rostrum with the participation of nearly 1,000 delegates. There were also calls for opening the Ayasofya (Haghia Sophia) in Istanbul used as a museum, to Islamic worship.  The Ayasofya was built as a church by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian in 537 A.D. It was converted to a mosque after Mehmet the Conqueror captured Istanbul in 1453. A decree introduced in 1934 during Atatürk's regime converted the Ayasofya into a museum.
    Ozal himself did not delay to make a religious demonstration on the occasion of hajj (holy pilgrimage) in July 1988. Although he had completed the Islamic ritual twice before, in 1968 and in 1975, this was the first time that he was making the pilgrimage as Turkey's prime minister.
    After this visit, the Saudi ambassador to Ankara, Abdelaziz M. Khojah, said: "Özal's pilgrimage will strengthen Moslem unity. The importance of Özal's visit comes from the fact that he is the first prime minister since the establishment of the Republic of Turkey to perform hajj while still in office." (Dateline, July 30, 1988).
    In the meantime, in an interview with the Luxembourg cable television network RTL,  Ozal defended the following views concerning Atatürk, founder of the Republic: "He was a good Moslem and as such he struggled with fanatics. Atatürk opened the first session of the National Assembly with a religious ceremony. He was a good Moslem who also had modern thoughts. The claims that his principles are violated in Turkey today are groundless."
    According to the press reports, many members of ANAP's inner circle and even the Prime Minister himself had links with the powerful underground tarikat of Naksibendi.
    This tarikat got the lion's share of large amounts funnelled by Saudi Arabia. Korkut Ozal, the brother of the prime minister, is known to be actively involved as a conduit of sorts for Saudi money to be distributed to various religious sects.  (Info-Türk, N°146, December 1988)
    After the seizure of the ruling ANAP's direction by the Holy Alliance, the second right-wing party in the Parliament, the Correct Way Party (DYP) of  Süleyman Demirel too began to shift to fundamentalist line.
    DYP deputy Ertekin Durutürk, known to be a very close to Demirel, proposed in January 1989 a bill in the Turkish National Assembly, asking for the Ayasofya (Haghia Sofia) to be reopened as a mosque and for the Koran to be read around the clock in the Holy Relics section of Topkapi Palace.
    In the draft law, approved by the DYP's parliamentary group, Durutürk said: "Those who silenced the call to prayer from the minarets of Ayasofya in 1934 also destroyed the 417-year old tradition of reading the Koran in the Holy Relics Department of Topkapi Palace. This decision has been a pang of conscience for the Islamic Turkish Nation." (Info-Türk, N°147, January 1989)
    Finally, the Ayasofya has prtially been reopened to Moslem prayer.


    Although both ANAP and DYP did all possible to satisfy the Islamist and Ultra Nationalist electorate, after former political leaders, banned by the 1980 coup,  having been authorised on September 6, 1987, to lead again their movements, Necmettin Erbakan's Welfare Party (RP), successor of the Nationalist Salvation Party (MSP), and Ex-colonel Türkes' neo-fascist Nationalist Labour Party (MCP), successor of the Nationalist Action Party (MHP), began  to take-over their followers.
    The March 26, 1989,  local elections resulted in a genuine rout for Prime Minister Özal's ANAP. The "occidental" image of Özal's family, mainly Mrs. Özal's public appearance with a glass of whisky in one hand and a cigar in the other, had been detrimental to the ANAP's electoral chance during the rise of fundamentalist wave in Turkey.
    Three right-wing opposition parties led an electoral campaign accusing Özal's party of taking no heed of Fundamentalist demands and appealed many Conservative ANAP voters. Such a campaign by Erbakan's Welfare Party (RP)  and Ex-colonel Türkes' neo-fascist Nationalist Action Party (MCP) was not at all surprising. This time former Premier Demirel's DYP too, in a move to regain the title of the most powerful right-wing party, resorted to demagogy such as demanding to turn the Saint Sophia in Istanbul into a mosque.
     However, this was not the only reason for Özal's defeat in rural areas. The monetarist policies imposed by the IMF and applied by Ozal for nine years, three years as vice-premier and five years as prime minister, resulted in more impoverishment of peasants and little town tradesmen and craftsmen.
    Erbakan's new Welfare Party (RP)  increased the number of nation-wide votes it won from 7 per cent in 1987 to 9.8 per cent and won five mayoral offices, including Konya, the fourth largest city in Turkey. Beside Konya, a traditional stronghold of the Islamic fundamentalist movement, RP also won the mayoral offices in provincial capitals of Kahramanmaras, Sivas, Sanliurfa and Van as well as in 15 townships and 48 municipalities.
    The extreme-right Nationalist Labor Party (MCP) of Alparslan Türkes also managed to increase its share of the electorate. Polling 4.2 per cent of the nation-wide vote, it won the mayoral offices in three provincial capitals, Yozgat, Elazig and Erzincan, 10 townships and 11 municipal administrations. (Info-Türk, N°150, April 1989 and N°151, May 1989)


    The results of the 1991 legislative elections confirmed the alarming rise of the extreme-right.
    The Welfare Party (RP), owing to its alliance with two other extreme-right parties, surged to fourth place with 16.88% of the votes and 62 seats in Parliament. The total score of these three parties in 1987 election was 10.84% and they had no deputy in Parliament.
    The Nationalist Labour Party (MCP) and the Reformist Democracy Party (IDP) of Aykut Edibali, fundamentalist,  had to give up participating in elections with their own tickets because of the 10% national and 20 or 25% provincial barrages for being represented in Parliament. Considering the fact that in 1987 elections the MCP had obtained 2.9% and the IDP 0.8% of the votes, the leaders of these two parties became candidates in RP lists.    
    Of 62 deputies of the Alliance, 40 belonged to the RP, 20 to the MCP and 2 to the IDP.  A number of Grey Wolves who had been detained after the coup for political murders too managed to enter Parliament as deputies thanks to their alliance with the RP. Among them are also Muhsin Yazicioglu and Muharrem Semsek, two former chairmen of the Idealist Youth Organization (UGD), terror organization of Grey Wolves; Ökkes Sendiller, principal author of the massacre of more than 100 people in Kahramanmaras in 1978; Esat Bütün who had shot dead with machine gun 30 people in a bus in Ankara.
    After having entered the Parliament, the MCP decided to rename itself as the Nationalist Action Party (MHP), notorious organization of the pre-coup period.
    According the right-wing daily Tercüman of November 5, 1991, the RP is distinguished from other right-wing parties by the following demands:
    - The European Communities are a part of the "Great Israel" Project. Instead of adhering to the EC, Turkey should develop a Common Islam Market with Islamic countries.
    - In the military field, Turkey should be withdrawn from the NATO and should set up, with other Islamic countries, a Common Islamic Defence Organization.
    - The State should open a Koranic Course in every village, a religious high school in every district and a university of theology in every province of Turkey
    - Local assemblies should be authorised to decide to teach in schools any other language [particularly Arabic or Kurdish] by the side of Turkish.
    - However, the education carried out exclusively in some foreign languages [particularly  English, French and German] in certain higher education schools, aiming to spread imperialist cultures in the country, should be abolished.
    - Since taking interest is considered as a sin by the Koran, interest on bank accounts and commercial transactions should be prohibited and the economic life should reorganise on a "no interest" basis.
    The RP has always made it clear that it is completely against the equality of sexes. The party leaders refused to employ female secretaries when they were setting up the bureau of their parliamentary group in Parliament.
     However, the extreme-right alliance received votes not particularly from the religious and nationalist people, but also from areas where small business owners and producers are located. The RP's electoral manifesto addressed to different social categories including workers. The RP promised new administrative management in the work place, like the participation of workers in management and not to fire any worker without the authorisation of the Supreme Arbitration Council.
    The ideological differences and the provocations of former Grey Wolves might any time lead to a divorce between the RP and the MCP. However, since 20 deputies are enough to form a parliamentary group, 20 deputies coming from the MCP might easily leave the RP group in future.
    Anyway, with the remaining 40 deputies, the RP would be one of the key political forces in the Parliament to play a key role in coalition bargainings. (Info-Türk, N°180, October 1991)


    The pro-Islamic Welfare Party (RP) dealt a stunning blow to all other political parties at the partial elections held on November 1, 1992,  in 23 municipalities, by raising its votes to 24.52% from 17.05 in 1991.
    The biggest shock occurred in Istanbul where the RP took 26.95% of more than half a million valid votes cast and turned into the strongest political force of the biggest city of the country. In Istanbul, the main opposition Motherland Party (ANAP) came second with 24.43% as the coalition partners, Social Democrat Populist Party (SHP) and the Correct Way Party (DYP), stayed at the third and fourth ranks with respectively 17.31% and 14.24%.
    As for the ensemble of the municipalities where partial elections were held, the RP obtained 24.52% of the votes, it was followed by the ANAP with 22.85%, SHP 19.15%, DYP 16.68% and Ecevit’s Democratic Left Party (DSP) 12.83%.
    The victory of the RP was generally considered as a reaction of the popular strata against the present situation in Turkey which is marked by a rapid deterioration of living conditions.
    The reports about the corruption and irregularities at the municipalities controlled by the coalition parties pushed the population of slums to revolt and to replace them by RP candidates who claimed that only the mayors attached to religious values can put an end to this situation.
    In political field, the RP had remained since the 1991 elections as the only parliamentary force leading an efficient opposition against the government’s repressive policies.
    The Turkish media’s frenzy of sensation and lottery, the pornographic  programmes of the new private televisions, the general upset of traditional moral values too played an important role in the new political choice of conservative masses.
    However the most important factor was without any doubt the successful organisation and electoral campaign led by the RP at popular quarters while the other parties were failing to show a vitality and credibility. (Info-Türk, N°193, November 1992)


    A series of alarming events happened in 1993 such as turning President Özal’s funeral into a religious demonstration, political assassinations committed by the Hezbollah, an armed Islamist group at the service of the Army in its fight aginst the Kurdish Guerrilla, attacks on a daily publishing Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, insults at a TV broadcasting to the minority sect Alevi, challenging declarations by the leaders of the Welfare Party (RP) and frightening growth of its side-organization, the National Vision  (Milli Görüs) among Turkish migrants abroad incited a considerable inquietude among democratic forces of Turkey.
    The figures relating to the rise of the number of mosques and religious institutions in last three decades show very clearly to what extent the Islamic movement had grown in Turkey. 
    According to data from the Religious Affairs Directorate, the number of mosques in Turkey, which was 35,657 in 1963, 45,152 in 1973, reached 66,674 in 1993.
    The number of mosques constructed between 1971 and 1981 was around 5,000. The must spectacular rise was registered with construction of 19,000 mosques after the September 12, 1980 Coup: 54,667 in 1984, 59,460 in 1986, 62,947 in 1988, 64,000 in 1990 and 66,674 in 1993.
    The number of Turkish mosques abroad is about 1,100 according to the same source.
    In addition to mosques, Turkey has 750 Islamic theological schools and lycees, as well as around 5,000 Koran courses in Turkey. The Religious Affairs Directorate which is directly affiliated to the State Ministry has over 85,000 employees in Turkey and 691 abroad.
    Although there are no official figures about the number of the clandestine Koran courses and religious schools, the figures concerning the pro-Islamic media can give an idea about the increasing influence of these movements.
    According to a survey  published by the Turkish Daily News on February 2, 1993, these movements have 290 printing houses, 40 country-wide and 300 local periodical publications, 100 radio stations and 35 local TV stations throughout Turkey.
    Many of the pro-Islamic publications are also printed and distributed in European countries. One of the four pro-Islamic dailies, Milli Gazete, belongs to the National Vision movement, now represented on the political plane by the Welfare Party (RP).  Another pro-Islamic daily, Zaman, has already started publishing in Azerbaijan and Bulgaria as well. The Islamist holding Ihlas owns the biggest Islamist daily, Türkiye, and a TV channel, TGRT.
    The pro-Islamic radio and TV stations very often broadcast excerpts from the Koran and programs produced by the Saudi Arabian television and radio.
    The Islamic fundamentalism, after having been an undeniable ideological and political force in Turkey thanks to concessions given by the successive governments, is now striving to propagate its influence as well within the Turkish immigration abroad as in the Turkish speaking countries or communities of the former Soviet Union and the Balkans.
    The National Vision claims to unite "1.5 billion Muslims of the world who differ from their Western influenced administration" under Turkey's leadership in a close relation with Saudi Arabia.
    The Welfare Party (RP) leader Necmeddin Erbakan, in an interview to the Turkish Daily News of March 12, 1993, said: "In the past two centuries, the West has occupied Muslim countries with its culture. It had withdrawn from these countries with a policy of leaving behind its influence on them. A supranational Islamic Union composed of the 1.5 billion Muslims all over the world from the United States to Australia should be established. Turkey should assume the leadership of the Islamic world instead of entering into the Western orbit."
    In his many declarations, Erbakan qualified the European Communities as the fifth column of the Zionism.
    The party's deputy chairman, Sevket Kazan, at a press conference held on March 29, 1993 in Turkish Parliament, accused the European Community of asking Turkey to change its national flag in order to be able to be a member, said: "The EC is weary not of the star and colour on the Turkish flag, but of the crescent, which symbolises Islam. Next, they will ask us to change our religion in order to get into the EC."
    He also claimed that the number of RP members, which was around 800,000 in 1991 elections, has risen to 1,300,000 and is expected to reach the 2 million mark by the end of the year. He also claimed that 2 million members would amount to 10 million votes, which would mean around 30 per cent of the votes. (Info-Türk, N°200, June 1993)


    As for the Islamist violence, it had already restarted  few years ago in parallel with the rise of Islamic fundamentalist movement in Turkey. On May 3, 1987, a university student had been assassinated by the pro-Saudi Guardians of Islam in the eastern province of Van because the students were not fasting during the holy month of Ramadan.
    First violent Islamist mass demonstrations took place in Turkey in 1989 in protest against Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses and the banning of Islamic attire in universities. On March 10, several thousand demonstrators gathered at the main entrance of Istanbul University after Friday prayers. Instead of using force to disperse the demonstrators, the police pleaded with them to obey the law.
    In Ankara too, a crowd of about 1,500 men gathered at the Haci Bayram Mosque after sending telegrams of protest from the Kizilay post office to the Constitutional Court, the Parliament and the prime minister's office.
    Shouting slogans like, "Break the hands that want to take off the head scarves," "Death to Rushdie" and "Down with the British and Israeli Zionism," the crowd walked towards Ulus Square.
    RP leader Necmettin Erbakan said that the demonstrations constituted "popular reaction within the, limits of the law." He said he was against banning head scarves. Oguzhan Asilturk, the party's general secretary, praised the protesters as "glorious fighters."
    On March 13, 1989, about 600 women students clad in chadors held a demonstration at Tehran University carrying placards in Turkish in support of the Islamic fundamentalists in Turkey.
    In a commentary broadcast on March 14, Tehran radio said those who opposed head scarves in Turkey were "the lackeys of America and imperialism." (Info-Türk, N°149, March 1989).


    On May 5, 1989, the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan, thousands of fundamentalists flocked to the newly opened Cezeri Kasim Pasa mosque in Cagaloglu, Istanbul's press centre, stopping traffic and beating up journalists on the pretext of marking what they called "Jerusalem Day."
    The faithful, most of them wearing beards, green coats without lapels and skull caps, stopped the traffic on the busy thoroughfare for hours when they used the streets for Friday prayers. When the prayers finished the crowd began shouting slogans and tossing pamphlets into the air.
    The pamphlets, which began "In the name of God", declared that the last Friday of the holy month Ramadan is a day of struggle for all Moslems who must take back Jerusalem from Israel.
    The demonstrators began marching toward the main office building of the daily Hürriyet about 70 meters from the mosque, chanting slogans such as "Down with Zionists", and "Police are with us."
    In front of the Hürriyet building, the crowd protested what they termed the pro-Zionist policies of the newspaper. Several photographers who were taking pictures of the demonstrators were attacked by the group. Other reporters trying to cover the events in Cagaloglu were chased away by the demonstrators.
    The police did not move to stop the attack on the journalists.
    After the demonstrators cleared the Cagaloglu Square, a group of newspaper reporters left their cameras on the street in protest of the actions of the police. Besides, journalist organizations carried out a series of protest demonstrations in Istanbul, Ankara and Adana.
    Prime Minister Turgut Ozal told reporters that they should not exaggerate what happened in Cagaloglu. (Info-Türk, 152, June 89)
    Islamist terror shocked again Turkey on January 31, 1990, by assassinating a distinguished professor of constitutional law in Ankara.
    Prof. Muammer Aksoy, 73, an outstanding protagonist of secularism, was shot dead inside the apartment block where he lived as he returned home from his office. Unidentified people called newspapers' offices and said Prof. Aksoy was "punished by Moslems because of his attitude against Islamic attire." The callers claimed responsibility for the killing on behalf of a hitherto unknown organization calling itself "The Islamic Movement."(Info-Türk, N°159, January 1990).
    Journalist Turan Dursun, a former clergyman and writer for the weekly Yüzyil, was assassinated on September 4, 1990, in Istanbul by unidentified persons. Dursun was leaving his house on the Asian side of the Bosphorus, when seven shots were fired at him by assailants. He died at the scene.
    An advocate of secularism, Dursun had written many articles criticising Sharia (Islamic Law) and been receiving death threats for six months. In one such letter by "a businessman from Van," he was told that if he did not publicly apologise for his accusations against Moslems, he would pay with his life. However, he did not ask for police protection against the fundamentalist threats.
    In announcing Dursun's murder, Tehran Radio said "the Turkish Salman Rushdie has been killed. Like Rushdie, Dursun had repeatedly betrayed and insulted Islam and the Prophet Mohammed."(Info-Türk, N°167, September 1990)
    One month later, the editor-in-chief of Hürriyet, Cetin Emec was gunned down in October 1990 as he entered his car in front of his home. The assailants of this anti-fundamentalist journalist remain unknown.
    One of the most outspoken anti-Fundamentalist Turkish journalists and authors, Ugur Mumcu was assassinated on January 24,  1993, as a bomb planted in his car exploded in front of his house in Ankara.
    The daily Aydinlik has, after having started to publish Turkish excerpts from the Satanic Verses of Salman Rushdie on May 26, 1993, subjected to bans and a series of attacks and threats.
    First,  all copies of Aydinlik were seized after going into distribution on the basis of an earlier governmental decision banning the entry of Rushdie's book into Turkey. Moreover, a public prosecutor of Istanbul launched an investigation about the responsibles of the newspaper.
    On May 28, in Istanbul, after Friday prayers, hundreds of fundamentalists raided Kaynak printing house, which is known to have close links with Aydinlik, shouting "May the hands that are raised against Islam be broken."
    On May 29-30, Aydinlik's Izmir office was attacked by groups of fundamentalists, while the newspaper's Diyarbakir office was arsoned and a distributor truck was attacked.
    On June 3, unidentified people hurled firebombs at a newspaper kiosk in Gebze (Istanbul) and Osmaniye (Adana).
    In Ankara, fundamentalists distributed leaflets containing death threats on newspaper distributors and kiosk owners if they continue to sell Aydinlik.
    The responsibles of the newspaper qualified these attacks and the seizure of the Aydinlik copies as a violation of the freedom of press. (Info-Türk, N° 200, June 1993)


    The most dreadful crime of Islamists was marked on July 2, 1993,  by an arson attack on a hotel which killed 37 people and injured 60 in the central Anatolian city of Sivas. All the victims were guests, including authors and poets attending a cultural festival in memory of the famous Alevi leader, Pir Sultan Abdal, who was executed in the 16th century by the Ottoman rulers.
    The Alevi is the second Islamic sect in Turkey after the Sunni and the Alevis are distinguished with the philosophy and way of living conforming to the standards of a civilian society. They have always taken part by the side of reformist and progressive movements and resisted against the repressive policies of the State authorities. Because of this attitude, they have very often been subjected to discrimination by the State and attacks and massacres by the Sunni fanatics.
    It is noteworthy that the horror occurred in a city of which the municipality belongs to the fundamentalist Welfare Party (RP). The foundations established and backed by the RP mayor of Sivas are the principal centres of anti-secular activities. The provincial Chamber of Commerce said that the municipality does not issue license to operate or creates difficulty for those who do not make donations to those foundations.
    In Sivas there is also an important Alevi community. When the Alevis started to organize a series of festivities in Pir Sultan Abdal's memory, the RP officials began to provoke the Sunnis against them. Leaflets signed "Muslims" and "Muslims of Turkey" and calling for "holy war" had been distributed before the festivities started.
    The State authorities, despite warning from the local people, did not take any measure in Sivas and let free the fundamentalist groups to commit one of the most shameful horrors of the Republic's history.
    The presence of writer Aziz Nesin in Sivas was used a pretext for instigating the people to riot. He was already a target of fundamentalists for publishing Turkish excerpts from Salman Rushdie's controversial book, The Satanic Verses in the daily Aydinlik of which he is the chief editorialist.
    A day before the riots, local newspapers had blasted Nesin for remarks he made during a speech at the festival, criticising Islam and declaring that he was a non-believer. According to observers, if it were not for Nesin, it would have been another incident, again putting the Islam fundamentalists of Sivas on the street and directing them at the Alevis.
    Further provoked during Friday prayers, an initial group of about 500-600 people started to march through the streets of the city shouting slogans against Nesin and governor Ahmet Karabilgin who had recently made erected Pir Sultan Abdal monument in front of the city's cultural centre.  They gradually built up force and marched to the Hotel Madimak where Nesin and other  guests to the Pir Sultan Abdal festival were staying.
    They first attacked the hotel with stones and sticks. Men tried to climb up to first-floor balconies. Thousands chanted slogans in favour of Islam. Under the siege, Aziz Nesin and many other intellectuals staying in the hotel called many times SHP leader and deputy premier Erdal Inönü and asked him to order security forces to stop the attack, but no help arrived. The demonstrators were not stopped and the security forces were not directed in a co-ordinated and active way. It was later understood that such a stance on the part of officials stemmed from instructions and suggestions which had come from Ankara, particularly from the President of the Republic.
    Finally, in the evening, a group set the hotel on fire. "This is Hell's fire," demonstrators  were heard shouting.
    Although Aziz Nesin was saved at last moment and escorted from Sivas under police protection, other guests including distinguished authors and artists such as Asim Bezirci, Muhlis Akarsu, Nesimi Cimen were killed in arson attack. Most of the victims were members of a Semah (traditional Alevi dance) group who were there to attend the Pir Sultan Abdal festival.
    In the meantime, the demonstrators attacked newly erected Pir Sultan Abdal monument, pulled it to the ground and destroyed it.
    The State authorities who did not take a shred of measure to prevent the massacre, instead of pursuing Fundamentalist instigators of this massacre, attempted to accuse Aziz Nesin of having provoked the people to riot by talking against Islam.
    As for new Prime Minister Ciller, she first shocked everyone in Parliament by minimising the incident and claiming that the hotel was burned down by its own owner. She and the DYP ministers in her government never pronounced a word expressing sorrow on the events. They refused to participate in the funerals of the victims.
    In fact, Ciller herself had a big responsibility in  the recent upsurge in fundamentalist violence. At her provocative speeches during the Correct Way Party (DYP) emergency convention that named her chairwoman, she frequently expressed the desire "to hear the Islamic call for prayers (ezan) in every neighbourhood of Turkey" and continuously referred to Allah, Islam and the Turkish flag.(Info-Türk, N°201/202, July-August 1993)


    The National Vision movement, RP's European organization, has recently taken a series of further steps in taking over migrant families and succeeded to legitimate its fundamentalist activities thanks to the heedlessness and even the open support of some Turkish immigrant organizations.
    Despite its activities incompatible with the social and cultural promotion and integration of immigrants, the National Vision Organizations in Europe (AMGT)was admitted to take part among the founding members of the Council of Turkish Communities in Europe (ATTK) which was founded last year on the initiative of a number of left-wing organisations in a view to being the sole representative of Turkish migrants with the European Communities.  
    By the side of the AMGT, the following organizations take part in the ATTK: The Federation of Migrant Associations (Germany), the Federation of Turkish Workers Associations (Sweden), Türk-Danis (Belgium), the Council of Migrants from Turkey (France), the Islamic Federation (Holland), the Turkish Workers' Union (Holland) and the Union of Turkish Women (Holland).
    In a most recent spectacular move, the Secretary General of the National Vision Organizations in Europe (AMGT),  Ali Yüksel managed to get named the Sheikh ul-Islam (Chief of Muslims) in Germany by the so-called German Islamic Council (Der Islamrat in Deutschland) consisting of 14 Islamist organizations.
    Of the 140,000 members of the council, 80 per cent are of Turkish origin. Some 10 per cent are German Muslims and the remaining 10 per cent are of Arab, Bosnian or other origin.
    The most powerful one of the member organizations of the German Islamic Council is the AMGT. Among the other Turkish associations in the council are also Cemaat-i Nur (Community of Nurcu Order believers) and the German Turkish Islamic Cultural Union (ATIB).
    The duty of the Sheik ul-Islam is to regulate relations between the Muslims and the State. According to some rumours, the Sheikh ul-Islam will have the authority to collect taxes as the Catholic and Protestant churches do, if the election is ratified by the German authorities.
    This election has given rise to a power struggle for the influence of Muslims in Europe, as the Muslim population in Europe rises due to the presence of 2 million Turkish migrants.
    In late 1970s, the Süleymanci, another fundamentalist group active in the Turkish Community of Germany had attempted to be registered as the official representative of Muslims in Germany with the authority to collect taxes, but they failed after the Religious Affairs Directorate of Turkey intervened.
    Yüksel justifies his election to the post of "representative of Muslims in Germany" by reminding his success in obtaining a concession from German authorities: Last year, when some Turkish Muslims reacted to obligatory swimming lessons where their daughters would be together with half-naked boys, the German authorities accepted the German Islamic Council's proposal in the same sense. Now, swimming lessons in many states of Germany are not obligatory for Muslim girls. (Info-Türk, N°200, June  1993)


    On the eve of the local elections in Turkey, on March 26, 1994, the AMGT organized a gigantic meeting in Antwerpen on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Islam's recognition in Belgium.
    At this meeting held at Sporthal, Sheikh ul-Islam Ali Yüksel gave a speech raising the question of the unity of Muslims in Europe.
    The meeting was also addressed by Prof. P.S. van Koningsveld (Leiden University), Prof. Yahya Michot and Prof. Albert Martens (Catholic University of Leuven), Prof. Jef Verschueren (University of Antwerpen) and Dr. Yassin D. Beyens (Chairman of the Higher Council of Muslims in Belgium).
    The organization of such a meeting in Belgium with the participation of Belgian personalities has been interpreted as a new attempt of the National Vision to extend its self-claimed spiritual authority to the capital of Europe. One of the main objectives of the AMGT is to set up Islamic universities, Islamic trade unions and Islamic political parties in Europe.
    Earlier, the AMGT had organized its annual congress in Gent with the participation of RP Chairman Necmeddin Erbakan.
    The AMGT has been organized in Belgium under the name of Islamic Federation of Belgium and has branch offices and mosques in many Belgium cities and towns inhabited by Turkish migrant workers.
    In a move to propagate fundamentalism and to educate young girls as preachers, the National Vision Organizations in Europe (AMGT) opened a boarding school in the town of Hensies in the Mons region of Belgium.
    According to a report published by the daily Milli Gazete of 12 September 1992, this school is situated in a site of 19,000 Square Meters bought by the AMGT and has a capacity of 350 students. There are also 13 lodgings for teachers.
    The education is carried out during 25 hours per week only in Arabic language and is based on the Koran. Although the AMGT had obtained a permission for opening this school from Belgian authorities,  it has not yet been recognised an agreed school because its education programme does not correspond to the Belgian school regulations which stipulate that 36 hours of the weekly education be made according to the Belgian education programme and by the teachers recognised by the Education Ministry.
    Instead of conforming to these regulations, the young Muslim girls were ordered to quit Belgian schools and to follow this religious education in Arabic language alone. So, these young girls have been deprived of any education for their social and cultural promotion.
    Beside this full time education, many young girls between 10 and 18 years old too come to Belgium from Germany, Holland, Switzerland or Denmark during the annual summer holidays or at Christmas and Easter.
    The Chief of Training Section of the AMGT, Abdullah Yüksel said that they were planning to open religious classes for the young boys as well.  (Info-Türk, N°200, June 93)


        Behind the rise of fundamentalism is no doubt also the growing economic power of Islamic capital.
        Islamic fundamentalism's economic activities in Turkey are getting more and more uncontrollable in Turkey thanks to the Ozal Government's encouraging attitude. Within the total foreign capital invested in Turkey, the Islamic countries hold a share of 8 per cent. At the end of 1988, the number of companies founded with the participation of Islamic capital reached 309 of which 134 are shared by Iraq and 31 by Saudi Arabia. The total capital invested by Islamic countries is estimated at 64.3 billion TL. (Cumhuriyet, 21.2.1989)
        One of the main Turkish partner of these companies is Korkut Ozal, brother of the Turkish Prime Minister. He is the principal shareholder of Akabe Insaat, Ozal-Bayraktar Oil and Chemical Products Co., Hak Investment Co. and Akoz Commercial Advisory Co. He has also a share of O,1% in Al Baraka, principal international investment company of Saudi Arabia. (Milliyet, 12.1.1989)
        Islamic capital appears as the most eager in the field of foundations. While there were 754 foundations in 1984 in Turkey, their number rose to 1237 in 1988. The new 483 foundations' properties are estimated at 300 billion TL. At least 10 per cent of the new foundations have been founded with religious purposes. (Cumhuriyet, 6.2.1989)
        Islamic foundations' growing control in the field of education is seriously menacing the principle of secular education, one of the main pillars of the Republican state. The number of Koran courses throughout Turkey rose to 4,691 in recent years. 633,000 children learn by heart the Koran in Arabic language, without understanding its meaning. (Cumhuriyet, 23.1.1989). Meanwhile, these courses, mainly founded and directed by Islamic foundations, form children according to the Sharia (Islamic law) principles.
        As for the official religious high schools (Imam Hatip Okullari), their number rose to 384 in 1988, while it was 384 in 198O. Accordingly, the number of students educated by these schools rose from 178.000 to 290.000. (Cumhuriyet, 9.1.1989) The majority of these students are lodged in the dormitories belonging to Islamic foundations.
        Recently, a group of Islamists, led by former TV director Saban Karatas, has taken the initiative in founding a private university, Bezm-i Alem, to operate on the basis of Islamic principles. (Hürriyet, 30.1.1989)
        And some more figures on the rise of fundamentalism in Turkey:
        The number of the personnel employed by the Religious Affairs Directory was raised from 53,582 in 1984 to 84,717 in 1988. Every year at least 1,500 new mosques are being built throughout Turkey. Five mosques and seven small mosques have been opened in five universities of Ankara.
        The number of the people who go to Mecca to make the pilgrimage climbed from 30,450 in 1984 to 285,724 in 1988.(Cumhuriyet, 23.1.1989)
        A holding company modelled after Muslim charitable foundation, Ihlas, has a $ 200 million-a-year turnover and puts its profits back into operations. It owns the largest-selling Islamic paper, Türkiye, which has a room of prayer at its istanbul headquarters, and runs a fundamentalist television station. It also has interests in construction, hospitals and publishing, and distributes Islamic books free outside Turkey. (Info-Türk, N°208, February 1994)


    The upsurge of Islamic fundamentalism has given rise to a nation-wide polemic. Recently, Turkish businessmen too have been involved in the debate by accusing the government of encouraging fundamentalist penetration into the Turkish educational system.
    The Turkish Industrialists' and Businessmen's Association (TÜSIAD) , on September 19, 1990, issued a report criticising the quality of Turkish education and calling state funding for education "inadequate." It also criticised the integration of religious schools into the public system.
    "Turkey falls behind African countries in educational spending. Only 2.7 percent of the gross national product is spent on education," the report said. In an indictment of the proliferation of state-run religious schools and private Koran courses, it also called for stricter controls upon both.
    The report identified three educational standards in Turkey:
    "Turkish students attend either state-run religious schools (initially designed to educate Moslem clergy). low-quality state schools or with a foreign language curriculum,.
    "The Turkish education system took a step back from the unified and standardised system before 1980 to a 'three-channel' system similar to the one in force in the first years of the Republic. Fundamentalism begins where standardised education fails."
    TÜSIAD's main criticism of the Turkish education system was that "privileged" private high schools. "The Imam-Hatip religious schools originally established to educate the clergy have been integrated into the system as general-purpose institutions competing with normal state run high schools."
    Defining the Imam-Hatip schools as "anti-secularist" the report said that in 20 years, the number of such schools has increased by 1,250 per cent:
    "Only 39,000 Imam-Hatip graduates have been employed as clergymen since the schools were established in 1951. Their students, meanwhile, have numbered 433,200. Figures were based on data obtained from the Department of Religious Affairs.
    "The schools educate 10 times more students than there are clergy posts available. A 1983 amendment to the law regulating the status of Imam-Hatip schools enabled their graduates to transfer directly to universities, a step previously banned by law.
    "These theological students are thus channelled into a number of careers. Of the 9,931 students graduating from one Imam-Hatip high school in 1988, only 981 entered university theology departments.
    "State and religious high schools produce two types of people opposed to each other in cultural, social and religious outlooks. This development contravenes the Tevhid-i Tedrisat Law (Law of Unity in Education)."
    The report also criticised obligatory religion courses in elementary and secondary schools, and the increase in the number of privately run Koran courses:
    "The enrolment of Imam-Hatip schools should be limited and the private Koran courses put under the control of the Education Ministry. Most of the religious sects which were formerly banned have been revived. Students of the Koran courses across Turkey put pressure on Turkish children to join."(Info-Türk, N°169, November 1990)