By David Devadas
If a successful coup in 1977 promoted Islamism in Pakistan, a failed coup seems likely to have the same effect in Turkey. Turkey’s failed coup has highlighted how far that country’s political choices have shifted towards the religion-based right, the way the entire frame of Pakistan’s politics shifted towards Islamism during General Zia-ul Haq’s regime in the 1980s.
Now that the coup has been defeated and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has blamed his one-time mentor Fathullah Guelen, he has opened the way to fill the ranks of his country’s army with loyalists who endorse his relatively orthodox Islamism. The coup gives him a reason to purge the army not only of officers sympathetic to Guelen but also staunch secularists.
The way the attempted coup has been projected, Erdogan has sought to narrow the choice in Turkey between the Islamist politics of Erdogan and the relatively Sufist base of Guelen. In the political arena, Kemalist secularism does not seem to have much space. From Erdogan to the Istanbul street, Guelen has been named as the likely coup organiser. There is little talk of secular politics – of which the army was hitherto seen as the bastion.
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