By Ali Bulaç
August 25, 2014
It is a challenging task to elucidate the fact that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) is not an Islamist party and does not pursue Islamist policies, and therefore the blame of its errors and mistakes cannot be attributed to Islam.
Neither the domestic nor the international community is eager to accept this. The reason for this is that the majority of the politicians affiliated with the AK Party have religious identities. This in turn puts people like me, who adopt a critical view of the party, in a difficult situation because criticizing a religious person is seen as betraying the religion itself.
Nevertheless, my guiding principle is that truth towers above everything. An Islamist should speak of and point at errors and mistakes for the sake of truth and refrain from linking the mistakes of a conservative party to Islam itself.
The damage the "religious images" of the members of the AK Party do to the religion is greater than the one done by religious figures of the centre-right and nationalist politicians. This is because they hollow out the religion with their basic political preferences and policies, and they sanction the tyrannies and injustices of the ruling party, whose basic philosophical assumptions are not endorsed by Islam but are attributed to Muslims. Even if this is not what they wish for, religion has become an indistinguishable part of their identity because of their pasts and religious appearances.
What we understand from our past experience is that these religious politicians are protestantizing Islam, making it mundane and materialistic. This in turn will extend the Western domination and hegemony over the Muslim world for many years to come.
There is a political power as defined by the modern nation-state. This power does not belong to us. Religious politicians should first study this modern power with a critical approach based on Islamic jurisprudence and theology. The AK Party's politicians are religious, but they are unaware of their own political and philosophical references. The following questions are important:
1) To what extent does Turkish society rely on Islamic perspectives to make sense of their existence, life, meaning and the purpose of man and the world, etc.? How many intellectuals have been raised during the time the ruling party has been in office with all of the public resources available to it? How many notable works have been produced during the same time?
2) Can we say that the ruling party's social and economic policies have brought society closer to a liberal, morality-oriented and justice-based lifestyle? What is the direction of social mobilization? Towards peace and coexistence or toward profound polarization and conflict?
3) To what extent has the ruling party served the ideal of ensuring regional integration and unity of the Muslim world? Has it brought us closer to this ideal? Or has it moved us away from it? How prestigious is Turkey in the eyes of government officials, intellectuals, opinion leaders and the public in other Muslim countries? Is it declining or increasing?
Political power transformed the ruling party. We have turned into the dragon we intended to kill. Society is disintegrating. The family is in a state of deep concussion. Unfair and inequitable income distribution hurts everyone. Certain people who are protected by the public start to bully other people and they grow vulgar with the income they obtain from the ruling party. They are increasingly insensitive toward the plight of the poor. Society is being lured into mindless and blind consumption. Nationalistic and sectarian sentiments are being provoked. Millions of low-income households are becoming dependent on loans. Our cities are turning into Western forests of skyscrapers. Despite the rhetoric, Turkey is being dragged around by the wind of globalization. It seeks NATO's help for its current dilemma. Religious communities and orders are becoming dependent on public resources, although they are supposed to be independent civil movements that can boost society's moral and ethical values.