Turkey’s strong backing of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) has been extensively catalogued, but not much has been written about the country’s support for the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), the Brotherhood’s ideological cousin in South Asia that also has an active presence in North America.
JI’s role in advancing the Islamist agenda of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) was highlighted by a senior aide to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a video interview last year. JI and the MB are “soft power proxies” that helped bolster Turkey’s role as leader of a global caliphate “defending oppressed and victimized Muslims,” Yasin Atkay told the pro-government Hilal TV.
Islamist ideologue Maulana Syed Abdul Ala Maududi created the JI in 1941, when Lahore, Pakistan was part of British India. In addition to advancing a rigid interpretation of Islam, the Islamist movement has provided an ideological platform and recruiting base for terrorist groups in South Asia.
Turkey advocates actively on behalf of the JI. Erdogan, for example, denounced the 2016 hanging of JI Bangladesh leader Motiur Rahman Nizami as “neither fair governance nor a democratic mentality.” He also described the Islamist leader as a “mujahid [holy warrior].”