To understand the extent to which the founding leaders of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) have transformed their position in Turkish politics one should compare them with that of Necmettin Erbakan, the leader since 1969 of the National View Movement from which the AK Party leadership originally sprung.
Erbakan, the “spiritual leader” of the movement, now under the banner of the Felicity Party (SP), has become a popular news item for the secularist/nationalist media in Turkey.
His recent interviews remind us of his apparent lack of intellectual depth and political vision, as well as his inability to comprehend reality.
Erbakan still eagerly makes religious connotations and constantly talks of Zionist conspiracies against Turkey, a fashion better suited to the 1940s.
Everything in the world and in Turkey is to be explained by references to Zionism: xenophobia, hatred and anti-Semitism mark his speeches.
His is a perfect example of paranoia and narrow-mindedness blended with a populist Islamism.
Understandably, the secularist/nationalist media networks use Erbakan as a tool against the AK Party and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, once Erbakan"s disciple.
But in listening to Erbakan one cannot but admire Erdoğan and his friends, who previously questioned and quit the Erbakan line in politics to form the AK Party with a new set of ideas, political language and vision.
It is hard to believe that such a movement under the leadership of Erbakan has given birth to a political party like the AK Party and a leader like Erdoğan.
This should be an example of the capability of a political cadre to regenerate itself. I think they should be congratulated.
The market economy, European Union membership accession, globalization, social change, democracy and modernity are all plots stemming from the Zionists, according to Erbakan.
Today the AK Party, with its program and policies, has nothing to do with this tradition.
To be fair, there are no similarities whatsoever between the AK Party and the Erbakan line.
Today the AK Party is a party with strong commitment to Turkey"s integration in the EU. In fact, it is the party that opened historic accession negotiations with the EU.
It is the AK Party leader who tries very hard to “market Turkey” abroad to attract even more foreign capital.
It is the AK Party that is the most ardent pursuer of privatization and a liberal market economy.
It is the AK party that is proud of the amount of roads built, services provided and political reforms initiated during their term of office.
By focusing not on narrow-minded ideologies but services provided, the AK Party emerges as the party resting on the tradition of the center right in the Turkish political spectrum and not that of the Islamic movement.
In fact the rise of the AK Party under the leadership of Erdoğan marked the very end in Turkish politics of political Islam as a potential threat to secularism and democracy.
I think the secularists in Turkey owe a huge thanks to Erdoğan and his friends for removing populist, xenophobic, anti-Semitic political Islam from the Turkish political agenda.
The AK Party is a radical departure from the old leadership, ideology and program of the Erbakan ethos.
Anyone who complains about the hidden agenda of the AK Party, or those who are concerned that the AK party has an Islamic tendency, should look at the Erbakan line.
Their revolutionary departure from the Erbakan path should be appreciated.
Well, some may still prefer Erbakan and his friends to Erdoğan to form a common front against the West, the EU, political modernity and globalization.
On this we see a strange alliance forged between the Kemalists and the Erbakan Islamists.
The arch enemies of yesterday are good bedfellows today. For what?
To put up opposition to the process of globalization and EU membership. I wonder how long the tango between the Kemalists/nationalists and the followers of Erbakan will continue.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 19 Temmuz 2007, 10:09