For decades, prominent Islamist figures would rarely criticize Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and when they did, it would be directed at his policies, rather than his personality. That trust seems beginning to change.
On March 26, for instance, Temel Karamollaoglu, the head of the tiny but increasingly influential Saadet (Felicity) party, railed against Erdogan and the members of the public “under his spell.” Karamollaoglu’s repeated reference to Erdogan as having performed “magic” on the Turkish people is significant. Accusing the leader of the ruling Islamist party of violating Islam, which bans sorcery and witchcraft, goes against the grain of the prevailing culture of unconditional loyalty and obedience. In fact, the 76-year-old Karamollaoglu has been a devoted follower of the political Islamic ideology of dawa (religious outreach) and a former supporter of both Erdogan and his Justice and Development (AKP) Party. Today, outspoken in his opposition, he says that his movement is the only one “that can stop the polarization in Turkey because we can sit down and speak with everyone, accepting our differences. Ours can be a platform of social democrats, nationalists, Kurdish voters and those who previously supported the AKP but are now disillusioned.”