The weekly news magazine, US News and World Report published a detailed and very well-writen story about Turkey’s current political debates titled “Continental Divide: Turkey Again Tests Whether Islam Can Coexist With Democracy”. The writer, Mr. Jay Tolson, mentions me in the piece as follows:
[Turkey’s] delicate issues will continue to include Islam and the question of how much religion is permissible in the public sphere. Mustafa Akyol, a bright young columnist for the English-language Turkish Daily News, makes a very convincing case for the moderate traditional religiosity that most AKP supporters embrace.
This is very far from the totalitarian variety of political Islam that Islamists promote. It does not seek to impose religious sharia law on society. It does not go in for the fundamentalist simplicities of the Saudi Wahhabis. Some religiously minded Turks were attracted to political Islam after Iran’s 1979 revolution, Akyol explains, but Islamism largely disappeared when the military dissolved the Welfare Party-led government in 1997.
AKP’s brand of Islamic religiosity derives, Akyol says, from the rich Ottoman traditions, which include a strong admixture of philosophically broad-minded Sufism. The party’s religious inspirations are not Islamists like Sayyid Qutb but Said Nursi (1879-1960), whose apolitical writings on faith and morality sparked a popular movement. More recently, Fethullah Gulen’s teachings on interfaith dialogue and the compatibility of belief and secularism have inspired followers to found schools, publishing houses, and even a newspaper to spread his message.
But there are many Turks who argue that not even Gulen can be trusted. They say his followers in government eventually attempt to legislate Islamic morality. “The secularists’ argument is that if you let a little religion in the public sphere, you will ultimately have a big problem,” Akyol counters. “My argument is that if you don’t, then you will have a bigger problem.”