Islamist Turn in Turkey, State Transnationalism and Transnational Islamist Unofficial Law

19 Pages Posted: 22 Nov 2019

Date Written: October 12, 2019


Turkey is currently going through a period of radical change; where a composite ideology of Islamist populism, nationalism, and authoritarianism is being used by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). The AKP has increasingly resorted to using the mosque (through the Diyanet) and the schools (Imam Hatip schools, national curriculum, and Islamist educational foundations) to Islamize society and raise a generation of Islamists; the kind of desired citizens they envision will characterise the new regime. This chapter argues that the AKP has been actively pursuing strategies of transnational Islamist populism and heavily resorting to state transnationalism with the intention of exporting their composite ideology to Turkish diasporas throughout the world. Several valuable academic works have analysed the Islamist usage of the mosque, the school, and the political discourse; domestically and in foreign policy. However, unofficial Islamist fatwas and Islamist legal narrative constructions of the AKP have not been studied. In addition to examining the Islamist legal perspective, this chapter will also briefly look at the potential influence of this Islamist socio-legal phenomenon on Turkey’s diasporas in the West. By focusing on the fatwas issued by pro-AKP religious preachers, this study unveils the ideas the AKP uses to justify Islamist behaviour in Turkey today: the Islamist populist turn, the justification of corruption, the demonization and securitisation of AKP’s opponents, and the topdown social engineering of society along Islamist lines. This study also offers preliminary findings on the impact that these fatwas have had on domestic Turks and Turks of the diaspora, and how the justification of the government’s wrongdoings through fatwas have affected Turkish people, including leading to an increase of radicalism.

Keywords: Islamism, Turkey, Legal Pluralism, Authoritarianism, Populism, Diasporas, Citizenship

JEL Classification: Z10

Suggested Citation

Yilmaz, Ihsan, Islamist Turn in Turkey, State Transnationalism and Transnational Islamist Unofficial Law (October 12, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

Ihsan Yilmaz (Contact Author)

Deakin University ( email )

75 Pigdons Road
Victoria, Victoria 3216


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