Islamic societies in Turkey: The x-factor of Turkish politics.

Nowadays Islam is the everyday agenda of every national government or intergovernmental organization worldwide. Events, norms and beliefs are shaped throughout the world on the path that West and Islam relations are shaping and it is of everyday knowledge to read analysis some of those accurate and some prejudiced around an effect of the globalization, and that is the encountering of the Civilizations. It is the writer’s personal opinion that there is no clash of civilizations but an ordinary cyclical event to be found in numerous occasions in history when due to societal, economic or other factors civilizations are being brought together. As in every relation one should not expect carefree interactions but rather a much more complicated antagonism that may result in a great bond or in a total divorce.

Contemporary Turkish Islamic societies.

Turkey today is a state where a lot of statesmen and organizations have invested in a short of way a  prototype of a Muslim country that will lead the wider Islamic world into a reconciliation with the West and create the “missing link” in geopolitical sense between Europe and the Middle East. Since the issue is one of paramount importance it is far certain that certain aspects of Turkish society will have to come on the  limelight in order for both the Turks as well as any interested party to examine, analyze and finally synthesize the internal web of the Islamic movement in that country.
A first glance should be given to the Souleimanji society which is a traditional oriented group faithfull to the Holy Koran and is often accused in Turkey of betraying the underlying basis of Kemal’s legacy in Turkey. It has around 500,000 members and was initiated in 1950. It gives a great deal of attention in providing welfare for under privileged target groups, especially young people, unemployed etc. Two publishing houses are under the society’s influence as well as numerous schools, cultural centers(Around 250) and welfare institutions across Turkey. A notable fact is that a lot of its members have immigrated to Germany (As also a lot of people of Turkish descent since the 50’s) and have founded branches there, even though their exact number is not quite known. The main characteristic of this group is its continuous involvement into Turkish politics in a variety of norms. The current leader of the group is Kemal Katse or Hilmi Turkmen.

A second society with a greater perhaps influences and wide international connections are the Naksbenti one. Having being created before WW2 it enjoys popular support from various sectors of the Turkish society. It was rumored that members of the Ozal family -that gave a prime minister to the country- were members of that society and had high places in the internal power echelons of that organization. A lot of celebrities have been included amongst its followers like the Sultan of Brunei, the daughter of the ex-king of Afganistan, singer Cat Stevens and the artist Bob Geldorf. Despite the fact that during the 90’s there were implications of dealings between the society and Iranian elements nothing was proved apart from splits within the society as quite a few of its members went to other groups or founded their own.
Other groups:
1)IBDA-C(Radical, extremist and outlawed in Turkey)

2) Nourchoular: Very influential, leader Fetoulah Gioulen.

3)Yeni Asiagilar: Getting stronger the past few years, 250,000 memebrs.

4)Kirkinji Groupou: 200.00 members, it combines ultranationalism with traditionalist approach to Islam.

5)Kirkinji Groupou: It has a loose membership pf 2,000,000 million people! The hard core is less than 10%. Infuential in the Eastern parts of the country.

6)Ismail Aga Tekkesi: Small and cohesive group. Very close to Erbakan’s party. Low profile group.

7)Soumountsou Baba Derkiahi: 200,000 members, spread across the country.

8)Ernekioi Groupou:100,000, very focused on preaching and involved in the creation of intellectuals and students of Islamic theology.

9)Isiclar: An Islamic society that tries to combine Kemal and traditional Islam. Is very active in welfare and has numerous economic activities in Istanbul.
In general it is rumored that there are around 5,000 Seiks-group leaders. Some of them in an awkward way are founders and heads of different societies. Thus the number of societies must be less than 5,000. Their wealth and influence is strong in the Eastern parts, in Istanbul and in Germany! They have multiple ideologies and are not a singular force of power in Turkey. Nevertheless their finances as well as their structure is on a large extent unknown and that is something that hasn’t been researched in Europe. Actually no one quite knows if they are Trojan horses for an Islamic regime in Turkey or religious colored welfare establishments.
What it is certain though, is that they exercise influence in the country and one could assume that they play an influential role in issues concerning Western-Turkish relations, especially in the societal level.  Their sheer membership size and multiple welfare actions have made these organizations well-routed within the modern Turkish society and beyond.
 

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