Turkey

AK Party, The

The AKP (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi) or Justice and Development Party is a center-right Islamist political party founded in 2001 and the party of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. It emerged from the reformist wing of the banned Islamic Virtue Party (Fazilet Partisi) and is comprised of a coalition of politicians, many of whom were supporters of Turgut Özal and Neҫmettin Erbakan’s Refah Parti (Welfare Party) in the 1980s and 1990s....

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Alevism

Alevism is a branch of Shi’a Islam that is practiced in Turkey and the Balkans among ethnic Turks and Kurds, and is related to—though distinct from—Alawism in Syria. Alevis make up 20% of Turkish Muslims and comprise Turkey’s largest religious minority community.

Alevism emerged in Turkey during the 10th century. Like other Shi’a Muslims, Alevis believe that the Prophet Muhammad’s nephew ‘Ali Ibn...

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Armenian Apostolic Church in Turkey, The

The Armenian Apostolic Church is an Eastern Orthodox Church, the largest Christian denomination in Turkey, and the national church of Armenia. The Church was founded in Armenia, where Christianity was established as the state religion in the year 301 CE. With the fall of the Armenian kingdoms in the 11th century and the rise of the Safavids in Iran in the 16th century, Armenians immigrated to cities throughout Ottoman Empire, particularly in Anatolia and the Levant. In 1742, Rome officially recognized...

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Armenian Genocide, The

The Armenian Genocide refers to the deaths and deportations of between 700,000 and one million Armenians during and after WWI. Heightened tensions arose between the Ottoman government and its Armenian subjects beginning with the 1830 annexation of Eastern Armenia by Russia, triggering an Armenian cultural revival that led to the emergence of Armenian nationalism, which made claims to a homeland in Eastern Turkey. The genocide also reflects population policies instituted by the Young Turks to “Turkify” and homogenize the Turkish population. These policies were issued in the context of a...

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Armenians in Turkey

Armenians form a small but highly politicized minority community on account of the 1915-1916 Armenian Genocide, during which over one million Armenians were killed as a result of population policies instituted by the Young Turks during and after the First World War. International efforts to push Turkey to officially recognize the Armenian Genocide have had a negative impact on the lives of Armenians living in Turkey. The current Armenian community is estimated to be around 70,000, the...

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Baha'i Faith in Turkey, The

Turkey has a longstanding Baha’i Faith community which today numbers roughly 10,000. The Baha’i Faith was founded in 19th century Iran by Mirza Hosayn-Ali Nuri Baha’ullah (d. 1892) and developed from Babism, an Iranian messianic movement, and Shi’a Shaikhism. Baha’is acknowledge numerous prophets, including Muhammad, Jesus, Krishna, Buddha, and Baha’ullah. The Baha’i Faith is monotheistic and universalist, recognizing the truth claims of other religious traditions. Followers believe in progressive revelation, such that each age has its prophet and revelations specific to that...

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Christianity in Turkey

Christianity is a minority religion in Turkey today, though it was once the majority faith of the Ottoman Empire. The Christian population shrank immensely with the forfeiture of large territories leading up to and during WWI, and with the population transfer between Turkey and Greece that saw the loss of most of Turkey’s Greek Orthodox community. Christians currently make up less than 0.3% of the population, including (from largest to smallest)...

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Dhimmi

A dhimmi refers to a non-Muslim subject of the Ottoman Empire. Derived from Islamic legal conceptions of membership to society, non-Muslims ‘dhimmis’ were afforded protection by the state and did not serve in the military, in return for specific taxes. The dhimmi status was legally abolished in 1839 with the Hatt-ı Şerif of Gülhane and was formalized with the 1869 Ottoman Law of Nationality as part of wider Tanzimat Reforms. Regardless of these official changes, in...

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Fethullah Gülen

Fethullah Gülen (b. 1938) is a prominent Turkish Islamic scholar and founder of the international Gülen Movement, which evolved from the Nur Movement in the 1960s. Gülen stresses education as the vehicle for transforming the contemporary world. Where Said Nursi emphasized personal transformation as a means to effect social change, Gülen looks both to personal transformation and social and political activism, and fully embraces Turkish nationalism—the defining characteristic of which is Islam, not nationality—...

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Gezi Park Protests (2013)

The Gezi Park Protests in the summer of 2013 began in response to Prime Minister Reccep Tayyip Erdoğan’s plans to demolish Istanbul’s Gezi Park, one of the city’s few remaining public green spaces, and to replace it with a shopping mall and luxury apartments. Initial protests were held by environmentalists opposed to the project; when forcibly removed, a wider coalition of protesters came together and demonstrations evolved into a wider critique of the ...

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