OBITUARY: Necmettin Erbakan- Father Of Turkish Islamism


Necmettin Erbakan, described as the founder of the Turkish Islamist movement, has died at the age of 85. According to a biography provided by an Islamic news portal:

ISTANBUL – Thousands of Turks paid their respects on Tuesday, March 1, to former Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan, the founder of the country’s modern Islamic movement. …Thousands of Turks, including the country’s political leaders, attended the funeral of Erbakan, 85, who died on Sunday. Somber music poured from loudspeakers outside Istanbul’s 15th Century Fatih Mosque and street vendors sold scarves emblazoned with the message “Mujahid Erbakan”. Mourners chanted “Allahu Akbar”, or “God is Great”. Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul, proteges of Erbakan, joined other leaders for prayers in front of the coffin, laid out in the mosque’s courtyard and draped in green cloth adorned with Qur’anic verses. The streets, rooftops and balconies of houses surrounding the mosque were crammed with men wearing skull caps, and women, either veiled or wearing head scarves — marks of respect. Some mourners carried Palestinian flags…..Erbakan was born in 1926 in Sinop, at the coast of Black Sea in northern Turkey. A son of a leading judge, Erbakan studied mechanical engineering at the Istanbul Technical University. He received a PhD degree from the RWTH Aachen University, Germany. Returning to Turkey, Erbakan became lecturer at the Istanbul Technical University and was appointed professor in 1965. Turning to politics, Erbakan was elected deputy of Konya in 1969. He sought to include Islam into mainstream politics, a move that earned him several bans by Turkey’s constitutional court. Erbakan’s National Order Party was banned by the constitutional court in 1971, only a year after its formation. Two years later, Erbakan formed the National Salvation Party and served twice during the 1970s as a deputy prime minister. When Gen. Kenan Evran seized power in a bloodless coup, he imposed martial law, banning Erbakan’s party and briefly put him in prison. He was prohibited from engaging in politics from 1980 to 1987. Returning to politics, Erbakan formed a new party, the Islamic Welfare (Rafah) party. In the run-up to the 1995 parliamentary elections, Erbakan advocated calls for withdrawing from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), abrogating agreements with Israel, and developing closer ties with Middle Eastern countries. His views appealed to a large segment of voters, helping his party win the general elections in 1996, becoming the first Islamic party ever to win a general election in Turkey. However, Erbakan failed to form a coalition government in 1996, despite having a parliamentary majority. After the collapse of a center-right coalition of the True Path and Motherland parties, Erbakan was asked to form a coalition government. This time he successfully formed a government in 1996 after Tansu Ciller, the head of the True Path Party, agreed to join him, become 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. He also tried to follow an economic welfare program, which was supposedly intended to increase welfare among Turkish citizens. However, the military began to harass Erbakan, prompting him to step down in 1997, amid accusations of undermining Turkey’s secularism. Erbakan’s Welfare Party was subsequently banned by the constitutional court on claims of violating the republic’s secular principles. The verdict also barred Erbakan from politics for five years. After the verdict, most of Erbakan’s party formed a new party under the name of Virtue Party. However, the constitutional court banned the Virtue Party in 2001. After the end of his ban, Erbakan formed a new party, the Felicity Party, which he led from 2003 to 2004 and again from 2010 to 2011. He passed away on Sunday, February 27, writing the final line in the life of the founder of Turkey’s modern Islamic movement.

It should be noted that according to a report by Turkish affairs analyst Soner Cagaptay, the AKP party currently ruling Turkey arose out of Erbakan’s Welfare Party:

The AKP was born out of the Welfare Party (RP), the motherboard of Turkish Islamists since the 1980s. Islamism in Turkey, though traditionally nonviolent, possesses six virulent characteristics; it is anti-Western, anti-Semitic, anti-Israeli, anti-European, anti-democratic, and holds anti-secular sentiments, all of which are adopted from the Muslim Brotherhood.

A recent report from the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) provides further details about the relationship of the European Muslim Brotherhood to the Turkish Islamist movement founded by Erbakan.

Meanwhile, in Europe the Global Muslim Brotherhood has fused with the Turkish Islamist political movement founded by Necmettin Erbakan. The leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Germany maintains an intimate relationship with the Islamische Gemeinschaft Millî Görüs (IGMG) described by the German domestic intelligence agency as having its “ideological roots” in the ideas of Erbakan, who founded the movement in the late 1960’s and served as its former chairman. The German intelligence agency describes the IGMG:

“The IGMG is a pan-European organisation with around 87,000 members, according to its own statements. The European headquarters is located in Kerpen (North Rhine-Westphalia). The number of IGMG members in Germany is assessed to amount to 27,500 individuals. Its numerous institutions and wide range of offers reach a much larger circle of people, though. According to its own statements, the IGMG has 514 mosque communities, 323 of them in Germany.”

The German domestic intelligence agency also identifies the organization known as the “Islamische Gemeinschaft Deutschland” (IGD) as essentially the representative of the Muslim Brotherhood in Germany.70 Ibrahim El-Zayat, for many years the leader of the IGD, is married to Sabiha El-Zayat, the sister of Mehmet Sabri Erbakan, the nephew of Necmettin Erbakan. In addition, Mr. El-Zayat is listed as an officer of a German business called SLM Liegenschaftsmanagement Gesellschaft für Finanzvermittlung und Consulting mbH, established in 1997 and associated with the IGMG.72 Oguz Ücüncü, the General-Secretary of the IGMG, is also listed as an SLM officer.73 Since 1995, Mr. El-Zayat has also been the manager of the Europäische Moscheenbau- und Unterstützungs Gemeinschaft (European Mosque Building Association), which the German domestic intelligence agency refers to as representing the real estate holdings of Milli Görüs.

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