From on High: Imams, Religious Networks, and Pro-Regime Mobilization
11 Pages Posted: 6 Oct 2017
Date Written: August 25, 2017
What role do religious networks have in solidifying regime legitimacy? Most studies consider the revolutionary role of religious Islam, where religion is used as a tool to challenge the state authorities. In contrast, the state-supporting role of religious networks is less understood. During the night of the 2016 coup in Turkey, Erdogan's ruling party directed imams to project certain messages from minarets that varied in their content from purely religious prayers, to distinctly secular national anthems, to direct orders to the populace. Using data on the content and timing of these messages, as well as Twitter responses and mosque networks, we find that these messages inspired individual pro-regime action, social mobilisation, and social media rhetoric. This messages from mosques were more effective than traditional information sources, even in traditionally secular areas. Even the purely religious messages encouraged pro-state rhetoric on social media, highlighting perceptions of religion's role in legitimising Erdogan's government. Overall, these results suggest that religion can play an important role in legitimising the state and solidifying it against potential challengers.
Keywords: religous network, imam, regime, legitimacy, islam
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