From on High: Imams, Religious Networks, and Pro-Regime Mobilization

11 Pages Posted: 6 Oct 2017

See all articles by Tugba Bozcaga

Tugba Bozcaga

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Political Science

Elizabeth Dekeyser

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Political Science

Michael Freedman

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Political Science

Zachary Steinert-Threlkeld

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Luskin School of Public Affairs

Date Written: August 25, 2017

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Bozcaga, Tugba and Dekeyser, Elizabeth and Freedman, Michael and Steinert-Threlkeld, Zachary, From on High: Imams, Religious Networks, and Pro-Regime Mobilization (August 25, 2017). MIT Political Science Department Research Paper No. 2017-26. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3044005 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3044005

Tugba Bozcaga

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Political Science ( email )

Cambridge, MA
United States

Elizabeth Dekeyser (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Political Science ( email )

Cambridge, MA
United States

Michael Freedman

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Political Science ( email )

Cambridge, MA
United States

Zachary Steinert-Threlkeld

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Luskin School of Public Affairs ( email )

3250 Public Affairs Building
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1656
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
45
Abstract Views
240
PlumX Metrics