Use of Civilisational Populist Informal Law by Authoritarian Incumbents to Prolong Their Rule
3. Civilisational Populism
4. Turkish Islamists and Their Civilisational Populism
5. Informal Institutions, Legal Pluralism, and Unofficial Sharia in Turkey
6. Civilisational Populist Use of Informal Sharia by Different Actors
6.1. AKP Officials
“products of a project and running campaigns which “attempt to distract our country’s attention from real targets… Every incident that Turkey has gone through is a part of this insidious plot. We have until now succeeded in coming over all attacks which are not natural products of our own dynamics… Especially the CHP is forming a new mission for itself, by participating in every anti-Turkey scenario and continuing its lies and allegations that are products of slanders.”
“We are saddened when we see those who are coming on us by swinging the sword of the infidel (gavur) as if to do opposition, although they have the Turkish Republic identity.”
Gavur, a Persian word derived from Aramaic, means an infidel, but was originally used in the Ottoman Empire by tax registers to refer to Orthodox Christians. But, unlike its Arabic equivalent kafir, it now refers to a fanatical, cruel and obstinate “other,” either a non-believer or a non-Muslim. Unlike the “kafir,” (a person who has rejected or remained ungrateful to God’s teachings) a gavur is fanatical in his own ways as well as cruel and conniving. The word has been used in a number of idioms such as gavur inadı (the obstinancy of a gavur), gavur ölüsü (the corps of a gavur, meaning dead-weight), or gavur etmek/olmak, meaning making something worthless (like a gavur). None of these expressions are flattering. Proverbs are no better: “You can neither obtain a fur from a pig nor be friends with gavurs” or “Those who feed on the bread of the gavur swing the gavur’s sword,”—a thinly veiled reference to the “collaborators” or “traitors/enemies within” and, in current times, an insult leveled at non-governmental organizations that have received international financial support. Gavur, this rather musical word of discrimination and prejudice, is the meeting point of religious and national arteries, peppered with the resentment of capitalists, imperialists.”
“Unsurprisingly, the word often finds its way to the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) political rhetoric, particularly when its members want to appear righteous in the face of so-called external enemies or their local satellites… During the 2017 referendum, an AKP deputy lobbying for a yes vote to the presidential system, urged his supporters to “hit the place where it says yes” with the strength and determination that “you’d strike a gavur.”.
“Elections in June is a historical turn. It is not ordinary. It is between righteousness (hak) and evil (batıl) (as defined by Islamic law). It is clear what to do for those voters who want to avoid responsibility (mesuliyet) in accordance with Islamic law.”
“Thank God, we are Muslims. We have come to the world today and tomorrow we will depart, die. When we go, we will be judged for what we have done. Do not assume that we will not be questioned for our votes. I am saying this sincerely, you will be questioned for the votes more harshly. You will be accounted for your votes more than the obligatory prayers you did not say, obligatory fasts you have not had and obligatory pilgrimages you have not performed”.
“There are forces who want to undermine Turkey both economically and politically. To give them the best answer, sleeping is haram (forbidden in Islamic law) to us for the next 27 days. Until we make Erdoğan our president, sleeping is haram to us. Our children, our families are haram to us. Our spouses (i.e., having sex), our friends are haram. This election is a different election. This election is one of the turning points which will shape the next hundred years of our country”.
6.2. The State’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet)
“There are two groups of passengers. One group is composed of the people with knowledge, wisdom, intelligence, and virtue who also respects the rules put forward by the God. The other fanciful group, however, steps over the limits, considers freedom as fecklessness and disorder. They also have an understanding of freedom which would cause a disaster not only for themselves but also for the whole humanity.”
“Today, humanity needs to understand the messages of the Qur’an and Prophet Mohammed about freedom and responsibility more than ever as the world has shrunk with the advent of mass communication tools, the number of those want to stave the ship has increased and they went so far as to disrupt the ecological balance of the earth by using the technical opportunities.”
“We now have a court order. We’ll eradicate Twitter. I don’t care what the international community says. Everyone will witness the power of the Turkish Republic”.
“A Muslim cannot injure a sibling’s pride and dignity by saying bad words to him privately. We report with sadness that gossip, idle words and allegations, slander, lies and bad words are being presented in a provocative way through modern means of communication. A lie and gossip sector has been created in this way,” read the sermon, placing a special importance on the impact of social media.”
“People could forget about upholding their ‘holy watch’ while seated before a computer and could act irresponsibly towards others’ dignities. People who make their tongues into a poisonous arrow through the use of gossip, lies and allegations should remember they will be held accountable for their acts.”
“The FETÖ terrorist organization which seemed to represent the truth but served the superstition has exploited our beliefs, moral sensitivities, our love of the Prophet, our zakat and alms, animal sacrifices and all other religious values and concepts”.
6.3. Pro-AKP, Islamist Religious Scholars
“Karaman’s religious views are an important guide for Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). To make an analogy, one can even say that if the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood has the Egyptian Islamic scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi as its religious touchstone, the relatively more modern and progressive AKP has the relatively more modern and progressive Karaman”.
Since Turkey is a dar al-harb (an non-Islamic country where Sharia is not applied) and since what Islamists are doing is jihad, they can bend Islamic rules out of necessity and also break the official law. For them, winning the elections is winning a jihad. Thus, the winners are entitled to ganimet (booty). The elected Islamist politicians can get bribes in the form of 10 to 20 percent commission on public tenders worth billions of dollars from building contractors. Erdogan had to actually defend this corrupt practice after his ministers were caught red-handed by prosecutors with concrete evidence. He reportedly said that since it was not stolen from the treasury but given by the businessmen, it was not corruption. Nevertheless, until the 17 December 2013 corruption investigations, so few people knew this. After the 17 December investigation, Erdogan’s chief fatwa-giver Hayrettin Karaman started writing openly about these issues… He was trying to convince Erdogan’s religious voters that: Yes, Erdogan did corrupt things, but it was for the dawah, jihad, for the Islamist cause, not for himself.”
“If necessity forces an individual to seize people’s property, this seizure is permissible; in fact, if the individual fears he might die from hunger, cold, or heat, it is not only permissible but also necessary for the individual to seize property to meet his needs, the fatwa reads that it is more important, even preferable, to meet the needs of a society that likely includes Allah’s chosen subjects than to fulfil the needs of one individual.”
“If absolute necessity forces a person to seize the property of another, then it is religiously permissible for one to do so, in an apparent reference to an Islamic ruling on meeting one’s bare necessities… Keeping a society which is likely to contain esteemed servants of Allah alive is more important and favoured than meeting the needs of one person.”
“The presidential system is like the Islamic caliphate system in which the people elect the president [caliph/ruler], then all pledge allegiance (biat) to him”.
“If we want Islam to incrementally spread in our lives and be completed (as a social and political system)—that wishing this is an absolute obligation in Islamic law (fard)—and if this constitutional change is one the steps that would facilitate this process, according to the Islamic rule something that helps undertaking or completing a fard is also fard, voting yes in the referendum is also a fard”.
“Since Muslims grant the right to life in their own societies to Jews, Christians and members of other faiths, since they establish relations with them within a framework of justice and goodwill, they will surely grant the same right to parts of their society who are alienated from their own values, core civilization and culture… I look at those domestic and foreign circles that want to weaken and destroy the current incumbents. Their aim is not ethics, merit, righteousness, their aim is to capture Turkey and get rid of the leader that opposes their wretched aims. The powers that rule the world with sheer force have captured some rulers who are nominal Muslims. Through these so-called Muslims, they are stealing the Muslim ummah’s wealth and lives. If they capture Turkey too, our material and sentimental losses would be very huge”.
“The Diyanet cannot say it has done its part by ordering imams to recite salâ (call to funeral prayer) on the night of the coup. The Religious Affairs High Commission must speak up about this [Gülen Movement] group. If it is not able speak against it, it must declare the basic criterion [to punish them]. For example, how the Quran punishes those involved in terror in Surah al-Ma’idah. It says ‘Kill them, execute them, order their opposing hands and feet be cut off or exile them.’ There are no prison terms. The Religious Affairs Directorate and its high commission must direct the government [for punishing Gülen followers]. This Muslim nation will have to feed those people [Gülen followers] for more than 20 years in prison. Thousands of people will be more of a burden to the state than a town is.”
“My dear brother, even if they are saints … check this out. It is important because people across the count have been asking me about this. They say: ‘Sir, there are some people within FETO who are more pious than us.’ And I tell them it doesn’t matter at all. According to Qur’an, it is even allowed to slaughter them if they rise against the government.”
When he was criticised, Professor Akgündüz did not retract his comments and posted a question on his Facebook account: “Did they expect me to provide a different answer as an expert on Islamic law?”.
“I am taking religious responsibility here. We will be judged by God in the hereafter. This is not a matter of İmamoğlu (the opposition CHP’s mayoral candidate for Istanbul). In the background, there is a plot (conspiracy). All services in Istanbul will stop. All services to the Muslims all over the world will stop. Earthquakes will follow like the acts in the Gezi protests. The plotters would want to continue further. So, I am saying this for the sake of Allah not for myself: Those who say that I caused the loss of Yıldırım (the AKP’s candidate) and win of İmamoğlu are committing haram. I am giving a fatwa here, a fatwa in fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence). I have spoken with the committee of fiqh. I have consulted with ulama (Islamic religious scholars). I asked them if I am wrong to give this fatwa. They said, according to all principles in Majalla (Ottoman Civil Code based on Islamic law) and all fiqh rules, you can comfortably give this fatwa.”
6.4. Elite and Grassroots AKP Supporters
“In Islamic terms, it is fard al-ayn (obligatory according to Islamic law) to obey Erdoğan, and opposing him is haram (forbidden in Islamic law).”(SCF 2018)
“To not declare an unbeliever an infidel, to become doubtful about infidels and to believe that the non-Islamic ideologies they have produced are true; to worship monuments, graves and the dead; to endorse idolatrous systems such as Jewishness, Christianity, Communism, capitalism, democracy, social democracy, etc… The penalty for an apostate who does not repent is to be killed.”
“I entered to the booth, was undecided whether to vote for the AKP or Good Party, then I unconsciously stamped on the CHP’s column on the ballot. I trembled and was afraid. I went out and told this to my wife who told me to go back and stamp also on other parties to make the ballot void. But this was not possible. I felt so strange when I voted for the CHP for the first time.”
“Because we are in alliance with the CHP against the AKP, AKP supporters come to us and call us ‘enemy of Islam,’ ‘faithless,’ ‘infidel,’ ‘hypocrite,’ ‘Fethullahist terrorist,’ ‘Erbakan is turning in his grave,’ ‘traitors’.”(BBC 2018)
“Dear Friends! The Republican People’s Party (CHP) has openly declared war and is doing all that it can (against us). The attacks have started at the parliament with all their rhetoric and action now targets yes-sayers. On April 17, after we win the war, their wives and daughters are available as loot (and) as halal (permissible according to Islamic law) to [those who vote] yes.”
An opposition member told Tremblay (2017) that he was very concerned about the concubine rhetoric:“Although most Facebook commenters were critical of Akbayrak’s statement, quite a few applauded him as well. For example, one Twitter user wrote, ‘Omer Akbayrak, my brother, whose freedom of expression has been curtailed, stand straight. This nation is with you. No one speaks up against those who want to run us [yes-sayers] into the sea, but speaking about the law of war, gets one suspended’”.
“We saw photos of wives, daughters, granddaughters of prominent figures [naysayers who were courageous enough to advocate against the constitutional amendments] being displayed as halal [permissible] loot for all those who said yes, or for the believers. This is not a joke. This is the first time in Turkey that Islamists declared their fellow citizens enemies and a democratic political process [referendum] as a war and called upon believers to consider the others as losers, and punish them as losers would be punished in accordance with Islamic law.”.
“The wives of the infidels’ (gavur) bastards who are staging the coup are the nation’s loots (ganimet) (in Islamic law)”.
“was not the only one to objectify women as booty in these precarious times. A widely circulating video online allegedly shows a police officer asking an imprisoned soldier who supposedly took part in the failed coup d’etat if he has a daughter. He then threatens: ‘I’ll f*** her!’.”
“Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey (DEİK) representative in the Austrian province of Vorarlberg Hasan Güray Özüyer has said the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) male supporters could enter into polygamous marriages with the wives of jailed followers of the faith-based Gülen movement. Responding to Twitter message that interpreted the Rabia sign, a four-finger hand gesture frequently used by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, as meaning the Turkish lira’s hitting rock bottom at TL 4 to the euro, Özüyer wrote from his Twitter account: “That [sign] is not for the euro. It is for the wives of jailed FETÖ supporters. It means you could marry as many as four of them.” FETÖ is a derogatory term coined by government circles to refer to sympathizers of the Gülen movement. Özüyer’s remarks were reminiscent of the practices of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants, who take women in the territories they occupy as their second, third and fourth wives”.
“When Cumhuriyet’s (a Kemalist anti-AKP daily newspaper) turn came while he was reading the newspaper headlines… (he) let loose a barrage of insults to the accompaniment of ugly insinuations. He then wished for the introduction of Sharia and the death penalty and bandied threats targeting the newspaper’s staff saying, ‘It is canonically (in Islamic law) permissible to murder the likes of you.’ Democracy and all that is baloney. It is canonically permissible to murder the likes of you in wartime. Let God damn you! You are without guts, honour, dignity or prestige. There is not an ounce of religion or faith in you. You are the remnants of a period. They are crypto-zionists. Those who stage operations against this country in such a period are traitors.”
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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Yilmaz, I. Use of Civilisational Populist Informal Law by Authoritarian Incumbents to Prolong Their Rule. Religions 2022, 13, 960. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13100960
Yilmaz I. Use of Civilisational Populist Informal Law by Authoritarian Incumbents to Prolong Their Rule. Religions. 2022; 13(10):960. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13100960Chicago/Turabian Style
Yilmaz, Ihsan. 2022. "Use of Civilisational Populist Informal Law by Authoritarian Incumbents to Prolong Their Rule" Religions 13, no. 10: 960. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13100960