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The bulk of the research for this book was carried out between 1995 and 1998, and writing was completed in 2000. Since then, several interesting developments have occurred that speak directly to the thesis of this book. The Virtue Party was banned in June 2001, with the conservative faction, under Necmettin Erbakan, and the reformist faction, under Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, going their separate ways, each faction founding a new party. Under the figurehead leadership of Recai Kutan, the conservatives founded the Felicity (Saadet) Party. This party continued the heritage of strong, centralized leadership and religious rhetoric that had characterized previous Islamist parties. In August 2001, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan founded the Justice and Development Party, whose acronym in Turkish is AK (“white, unblemished”). Its symbol is a lightbulb, a radical departure from the animal and plant symbolism of most previous parties, and one that occasioned some ridicule in the press. The Party, as it came to be called, diverges significantly from previous Islamist parties and, in some ways, from other political parties . The seventy-one party founders, none of whom are politicians, are relatively well educated, represent a range of ages, and include twelve women. They are active in business, law, education, medicine , and civil society organizations. The party has developed an POSTSCRIPT organizational form that relies on internal balloting and membership votes rather than on appointments and decisions made by the leadership , and it has instituted term limits. In other words, the horizontal and more egalitarian characteristics of the grassroots organization described in this book have penetrated the structure of the party itself. Given the reliance of the party on a power base of relatively independent civic networks, it is not surprising that the influence of these networks should have filtered upward. This book has argued that the success of the Islamist parties in the 1990s rested less on their religious message than on their unique organizational ability to incorporate a wide variety of local voices and desires into the national political process on a continual basis. The reformists have taken this one step farther and developed a new style of party. The platform decidedly avoids reference to Islam and expresses support for laicism as a fundamental requirement of democracy and, notably, freedom. The essence of laicism is spelled out in the Party Principles: laicism is “the state’s impartiality toward every form of religious belief and philosophical conviction,” meaning that “the state, rather than the individual, is restricted and limited by this.” On a much publicized visit to Ataturk’s tomb, the symbolic center of Kemalist secularism, Erdoğan closed his inscription in the visitors’ book with the words “What you have entrusted [to us] is in safe hands.” This movement away from an Islamic message should not be surprising, since the Virtue Party platform has long rested on other issues. Shortly after the party was founded, the state prosecutor warned the party that it was in violation of the law on two counts: founding members of a political party may not wear head scarves, but half the female founding members did; and Erdoğan’s previous conviction on charges of violating Article 312 of the Turkish Constitution made him ineligible to found or lead a political party. (Article 312 refers to the crime of “inciting people to hatred and enmity on the basis of ethnic, religious, regional, and sectarian differences”; Erdoğan’s crime, discussed in chapter 4, had been to read a poem at a rally.) As of this writing, the issues surrounding the Justice and Development Party are unresolved. There has been discussion that the six veiled founding women might resign and that Recep Tayyip Erdoğan might be replaced as party leader by Abdullah Gül. Whether this will satisfy the Constitutional Court and prevent the party from being closed down is uncertain. 274 · Postscript It is also worth mentioning that in August 2001 the European Court of Human Rights ruled, in a 4 to 3 decision, that banning the Welfare Party did not violate human rights laws, because Turkey had legitimate concerns about the party’s threatening its democratic society . The three dissenting judges issued a separate statement in which they wrote that nothing in the statutes or program of the Welfare Party was hostile to democracy, and that they contested the decision to ban a party solely on the basis of declarations by some of its leaders .1 The issue of the relationship between democracy and rights clearly has not been...


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