The transnational politics of religion: Turkey's Diyanet, Islamic communities and beyond

Öztürk, Ahmet Erdi and Baser, Bahar (2022) The transnational politics of religion: Turkey's Diyanet, Islamic communities and beyond. Turkish Studies, 23 (5). pp. 701-721. ISSN 1468-3849


The article builds on current academic debates pertaining to the use of religion in global politics. By examining how and why religion is used as a tool for foreign policy aims as well as for perpetuating a state’s identity and institutional capacity at home and abroad; the article presents a theory-informed discussion on Turkey’s transnational politics of religion from a comparative perspective. The country’s use of religion as a political tool outside of its borders has been studied in Western Europe, Africa, Asia and the Balkans thanks to extensive fieldwork and interviews conducted between 2016 and 2020. The article investigates how and why Turkey has implemented similar policies with different aims in different geographic territories and the underlying material and normative motivations for this pursuit. The main argument presented in the article is that Turkey, under the rule of the AKP (Justice and Development Party), employs religion for three fundamental reasons: to bolster its regional and global influence, to access regions or groups that are difficult to reach through traditional foreign policy tools and to alter domestic political balances or amass power.

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