World Bulletin / News Desk
Turkey's former Prime Minister and legendary founder of Islamist movement died from heart failure on Sunday, aged 85, in Ankara.
His demise comes a day before anniversary of what writers call "post-modern coup".
Necmettin Erbakan was the founding father of the "Milli Görüş", National View, a deep-rooted Islamist political movement in Turkey. In 1997 the army forced the Islamist-led coalition of Erbakan to resign. But the army refrained from seizing power and allowed secular politicians to form a new government."
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan immediately issued a message of condolences over the death of a man who was his mentor but later became a political rival.
"He set a good example as a teacher and leader for young generations with his personality, his struggle and principles," Erdogan said, for many years one of Erbakan's lieutenants.
"We will always remember him with gratitude for what he taught us and for his persevering character," he said.
Erbakan rose to prominence in the 1970s, building up a party with an Islamist appeal to the conservative rural population and urban poor in a country where religion was excluded from political life.
Erdogan and many of his Cabinet were once members of the Welfare Party and some of the founders of the ruling Justice and Development Party were defectors from Erbakan's parties.
"Funeral prayer on Tuesday"
The state-run Anatolia news agency said Erbakan died at Ankara's Guven hospital where he was under treatment.
"We lost a world leader," said Yasin Hatipoglu, a close aide. "The world of Islam lost a great man."
His funeral prayer will on Tuesday be held in the Fatih mosque in Istanbul.
His Islamist Welfare Party was banned in January 1998 and he and other party leaders were banned from holding political posts for five years. Erdogan, a Welfare Party member, was the mayor of Istanbul at the time.
(Turkey's first Islamist Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan greets Palestinian President Yasser Arafat (R) at the presidential palace in Ankara, in this file picture taken February 20, 1997.)
Erbakan was a professor of engineering before becoming a politician.
His family said Erbakan did not want "official ceremony" in his will.
Feb. 28 was the fourth military intervention in politics, preceded by the ones in 1960, 1971 and 1980 and it is regarded as "post-modern coup". Not only were fatal blows dealt to fundamental rights and freedoms after Feb. 28 but also democracy and the rule of law were suspended.
The coup introduced a series of harsh restrictions on religious life, with an unofficial but widely practiced ban on the use of the headscarf. The military was purged of members with any ties to religious groups, a tradition still widely observed today. In addition, a number of newspapers were closed.
Erbakan is a Turkish engineer, academic, politician (eventually political party leader), who was the Prime Minister of Turkey from 1996 until 1997. He was Turkey's first Islamist Prime Minister. In 1997 he was pressured by the military to step down as prime minister and later banned from politics by the constitutional court.
Erbakan was born in Sinop, at the coast of Black Sea in northern Turkey. After the high school education in İstanbul Lisesi, he graduated from the Mechanical Engineering Faculty at the Istanbul Technical University(ITÜ) in 1948, and received a PhD degree from the RWTH Aachen University, Germany. After returning to Turkey, Erbakan became lecturer at the İTÜ and was appointed professor in 1965 at the same university. After working some time in leading position in the industry, he switched over to politics, and was elected deputy of Konya in 1969.
Necmettin Erbakan's ideology is set forth in a manifesto, entitled Millî Görüş (National View), which he published in 1969.
A mainstay of the religious wing of Turkish politics since the 1970s, Erbakan has been the leader of a series of Islamist political parties that he founded or inspired that have risen to prominence only to be banned by Turkey's secular authorities. In the 1970s, Erbakan was chairman of the National Salvation Party which, at its peak, served in coalition with the Republican People's Party of Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit during the Cyprus crisis of 1974.
In the wake of the 1980 military coup, Erbakan and his party were banned from politics. He reemerged following a referendum to lift the ban in 1987 and became the leader of Refah Partisi (Welfare Party). He led his party to a surprise success in the general elections of 1995.
He became Prime Minister in 1996 in coalition with Doğru Yol Partisi (True Path Party), becoming the first devout Muslim to hold the office in modern Turkey. As prime minister, he attempted to further Turkey's relations with the Arab nations. In addition to trying to follow an economic welfare program, which was supposedly intended to increase welfare among Turkish citizens, the government tried to implement multi-dimensional political approach to relations with the neighboring countries.
The Turkish military gradually increased the harshness and frequency of its public warnings to Erbakan's government, eventually prompting Erbakan to step down 1997 in a move that has been dubbed a "postmodern coup".
His ruling Welfare Party (RP) was subsequently banned by the courts, who judged that the party had an agenda to promote Islamic fundamentalism in the state, and Erbakan was barred once again from active politics.
Despite often being under political ban, Erbakan nonetheless acted as a mentor and informal advisor to former RP members who founded the Virtue Party in 1997. The Virtue Party was found unconstitutional in 2001 and banned; by that time Erbakan's ban on political activities had ended and he founded the Felicity Party, of which he was the leader in 2003–2004 and again from 2010 onwards.
The Islamist movement that defends national and spiritual values and political, economic and cultural cooperation and solidarity with Islamic world with Turkey returning to its historic role, has been one of milestones in Turkish political life.
Last Mod: 27 Şubat 2011, 18:50