Islamic Political Identity in Turkey. By M. Hakan Yavuz. New
York: Oxford University Press, 2003. 352p. $49.95.
In November 2002, Turkey's Justice and Development Party (AKP)
won the majority of the votes in the general elections and formed the
government. AKP's electoral victory was a major development in
Turkish politics, one that was the culmination of the growing
importance of Islamic identity since the 1980s, but it also reflected
the impact of the liberalization of the country's economy and
politics in the 1990s. AKP was formed by a breakaway faction of the
main Turkish Islamic political movement, disavowing that
movement's more contentious Islamic demands in order to adopt a
moderate and democratic platform. The meteoric rise of a party with
origins in Islamic activism in the most secular Muslim country, one
that has served as the paragon for secularism across the Muslim world,
is a member of NATO, and is an aspirant to membership in the European
community, has raised a number of interesting questions. There is much
in the example of Turkey that is instructive for the study of Islamic
activism, but there has so far been a dearth of studies on the subject.
Hakan Yavuz's seminal study seeks to fill that lacuna.