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Article

Religion in Creating Populist Appeal: Islamist Populism and Civilizationism in the Friday Sermons of Turkey’s Diyanet

1
Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalization, Deakin University, Melbourne, VIC 3215, Australia
2
European Center for Populism Studies, 1050 Brussels, Belgium
3
The Institute for Religion, Politics and Society, Australian Catholic University, Melbourne, VIC 3065, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Jocelyne Cesari
Religions 2021, 12(5), 359; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12050359
Received: 20 April 2021 / Accepted: 12 May 2021 / Published: 18 May 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Nationalism and Populism across the North/South Divide)
Drawing on the extant literature on populism, we aim to flesh out how populists in power utilize religion and related state resources in setting up aggressive, multidimensional religious populist “us” versus “them” binaries. We focus on Turkey as our case and argue that by instrumentalizing the Diyanet (Turkey’s Presidency of Religious Affairs), the authoritarian Islamists in power have been able to consolidate manufactured populist dichotomies via the Diyanet’s weekly Friday sermons. Populists’ control and use of a state institution to propagate populist civilizationist narratives and construct antagonistic binaries are underexamined in the literature. Therefore, by examining Turkish populists’ use of the Diyanet, this paper will make a general contribution to the extant literature on religion and populism. Furthermore, by analyzing the Diyanet’s weekly Friday sermons from the last ten years we demonstrate how different aspects of populism—its horizontal, vertical, and civilizational dimensions—have become embedded in the Diyanet’s Friday sermons. Equally, this paper shows how these sermons have been tailored to facilitate the populist appeal of Erdoğan’s Islamist regime. Through the Friday sermons, the majority—Sunni Muslim Turks are presented with statements that evoke negative emotions and play on their specific fears, their sense of victimhood and through which their anxieties—real and imagined—are revived and used to construct populist binaries to construct and mobilize the people in support of an authoritarian Islamist regime purported to be fighting a “civilizational enemy” on behalf of “the people”. Finally, drawing on insights from the Turkish case, we illustrate how the “hosting” function of the civilizational aspect plays a vital role in tailoring internal (vertical and horizontal) religious populist binaries. View Full-Text
Keywords: populism; religion; Turkey; Erdoğan; Islamist populism; Islamist civilizationism; Diyanet; Friday sermons populism; religion; Turkey; Erdoğan; Islamist populism; Islamist civilizationism; Diyanet; Friday sermons
MDPI and ACS Style

Yilmaz, I.; Demir, M.; Morieson, N. Religion in Creating Populist Appeal: Islamist Populism and Civilizationism in the Friday Sermons of Turkey’s Diyanet. Religions 2021, 12, 359. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12050359

AMA Style

Yilmaz I, Demir M, Morieson N. Religion in Creating Populist Appeal: Islamist Populism and Civilizationism in the Friday Sermons of Turkey’s Diyanet. Religions. 2021; 12(5):359. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12050359

Chicago/Turabian Style

Yilmaz, Ihsan, Mustafa Demir, and Nicholas Morieson. 2021. "Religion in Creating Populist Appeal: Islamist Populism and Civilizationism in the Friday Sermons of Turkey’s Diyanet" Religions 12, no. 5: 359. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12050359

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