Turkey is drawing closer to its Islamic neighbors as a Muslim-based political party is gaining power in the country, according to U.S. News & World Report (Feb. 26).
In Turkey’s November elections, Refah, a pro-Islamic party, won almost 22 percent of the vote — “more than any other party, though not enough to form a government on its own. With a vast neighborhood-level political network and a potent message of moral renewal and more equal distribution of wealth, Refah did especially well among culturally conservative, rural migrants living in the teeming slums of Istanbul, Ankara and other cities.”
Refah’s brand of Islam is described as “fundamentalism lite.” The party champions individual rights and claims that it will not make laws requiring head scarves or wearing beads. Instead of imposing Sharia (Islamic law) on all Turks, “Refah envisions a future in which different legal systems — Muslim, Christian, Jewish, even atheist — would coexist in one state.”
Even if such ideals are not realized, observers say that including Refah in the once strongly secular government is secular than repressing such popular movements, especially since “religious revival is a nationwide phenomenon.”