New issues for Islamism
ORAL ÇALIŞLARThe essential mentality that marked the long years of the rightist segment in Turkey (which still continues in some circles) can be summarizes as this: Damn the communists.
The Islamic movements (whether or not they regard themselves as rightist) have been anti-communist militants for years.
According to the classic “conservative” discourse, targeting to change the class structure of the society and to activate the working class was the work of leftists and communists and their aim was to “stir the country.” Of course, paradoxically, the Islamism in Turkey has also essentially developed among segments that were excluded from the system and among the “lower classes” to reach its present level.
Now, several movements are emerging from within the Islamic world which shifts past paradigms. Also in relation with the “Arab Spring,” radical theses are put forward, which we are not used to. The Muslims are starting to settle accounts with capitalism.
‘Freedom to the slaves’
A group from them marched yesterday at May 1 with their slogan “Freedom to the slaves” written in several languages. It was meaningful that Armenian, Kurdish and Arabic were among these languages.
The Islamic segment, for years, was in a political and economic position that could be regarded as a sufferer. With the 10-year rule of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), this victimhood has to a great extent ended.
Shaking off years of frustration, a segment is being formed inside the Islamists who have attained money, comfort and welfare with the facilities provided by the government. Tenders are being won, mega markets are being established, ports and airports are being constructed and a different segment from what it used to be is taking advantage of these developments this time.
Indeed, it is not possible for everyone to take a satisfactory share from the welfare in a country where the income per capita is still very far from desired levels. Seriously deep gaps are being formed between the majority of those who voted for the AKP and the segments that are able to take advantage of the opportunities the AKP government supplies. As a result, we are nearing the point where the Islamists are also beginning to form a privileged few within themselves.
The “anti-capitalist Muslims” are before us as a result of this “differentiation” and as representatives of a new form of thinking. Speakers of this group are referring to a situation similar to the differentiation experienced in the first years of Islam. According to them, during the time of the prophet the poor constituted the spine of Islam. The spreading of Islam as an empire created wealth and a new aristocracy.
To what extend can this movement develop?
We are living in a country free of unions and organizations. We can say that capitalism still exists without any rules, based on imbalance and even on exploitation. The system created by the Sept. 12 coup is totally dominant in this field.
The majority of laborers are people who vote for the AKP. It is obvious that a significant segment of these people are pious. The new movement can be influential right there and might enable new doors to be opened for laborers to get organized.
We are talking about the field of organization where the leftists have not quite been successful until now.
Even though joining the pious and the “left/anti-capitalist thought” under a new and radical union requires immense effort and courage, it is not impossible.
There are oppositions to the phrase “anti-capitalist Muslim” on the grounds that Islam dictates opposition to capitalism anyway. Also, there are views that the left opposition would melt within the Islamic movement.
As a result, it is too early to make an evaluation on how permanent this movement can be, how far it can reach and which fractures it may experience.
Oral Çalışlar is a columnist for daily Radikal in which this piece was published on May 2. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.