Turkey has recently been shaken up by the tumul­tuous alter­ca­tion between the glob­ally active Muslim community-​​movement, the Gulen move­ment (GM) and the pro-​​Islamic Jus­tice and Devel­op­ment Party (AKP) in power for over a decade. Both Western and local audi­ences have been stunned by the inten­sity of the clash, which peaked in the last couple of months.

Pre­vi­ously, most observers had wrongly assumed that these groups were inherent allies because of their faith-​​based world­view. In sharp con­trast to this mis­per­cep­tion, these groups came from entirely dif­ferent pasts and polit­ical ori­en­ta­tion, although they share a common interest in free market economy and cher­ished upward socio-​​economic mobility.

In fact, these two pious Muslim groups have not coop­er­ated with each other with the excep­tion of a five-​​year period during the first term of the AKP (2002–2007). His­tor­i­cally, they come from two dif­ferent branches of Islam in Turkey. The leader, Fethullah Gulen, and his fol­lowers have never approved of — or stood close to — Necmettin Erbakan’s more rad­ical Islamism, embodied by Milli Gorus (National Outlook).

Although the GM at large shifted their votes from centre-​​right par­ties to the AKP in the 2002 elec­tion, Gulen never truly trusted Erbakan’s tra­di­tion and his pro­tege Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has served as the prime min­ister since 2002.

Read the article at Al Jazeera →