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Will Turkey become an “Islamic” state?

On a final note, we have had a couple of queries as to whether Turkey is headed toward Shariah law implementation as the Presidency is consolidated, particularly given Parliament Speaker Ismail Kahraman’s comments that secularism should be taken out of Turkey’s new constitution last week, moving it instead to a “religious constitution”.

While we are dubious on the impact of any constitution (look at North Korea’s, its fabulous), we think that an overall shift to an Islamic state is unlikely in Turkey as the impact the AKP is looking to achieve, namely normalisation of Islamic practice in public as a foundational support for party control and roll back of the restrictions of prior governments.

This doesn’t require a change in the constitution, nor does it require a formalisation of Islamic law within the country as a guide to government policy, something which is better served by the use of “public interest” (maslaha) doctrine by the government in any case, which provides significant flexibility in promulgating policy.

This is similar to the interaction between religion and government we are seeing today in Russia and a sensible step to take as Turkey goes down a more conservative route for a leader who wants to consolidate control.

The decisions made on state capitalism on this path will likely be the ones that determine the success of Turkey in the coming years and something the President will be judged on as he gets his wish.

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