Do Turkey’s Islamists  want a Sharia state?

Turkey’s myriad Sunni tariqats are increasingly coming out of the woodwork, demonstrating visibly and loudly for a return to Islamic law, also called Sharia.  No doubt, part of this groundswell is attributed to local elections, where Erdogan hopes to draft their support and in general benefits from religious polarization.  Yet, while Erdogan has shown no indication that he wants to return to Ottoman Era, where Sharia was the law of the state, he would benefit tremendously from further Islamization of the society, which allows of ample room to manipulate voter preferences as the titular leader of Sunni Muslims. The problem is most Turks, even those who vote for AKP don’t want to be ruled by Sharia.

In a recent  sharia poll conducted by Aksoy Research, participants were asked the question “If you were to determine the form of government in Turkey, which would you choose?” The rate of those who want secular government is 83.2 percent. The proportion of AKP voters who want sharia attracted attention. Researcher Can Selcuki looked at the sharia discussions from a different perspective and pointed out why extreme ideas find fertile ground to flourish.


Aksoy Research company conducted a survey regarding the sharia “debate” that is heated up from time to time in Turkey, and is currently experiencing a cyclical high.

In the survey, the question “If you were to determine Turkey’s form of government, which one would you choose?” was asked. In the survey, 39 percent of those who voted for AKP said “Sharia”. In Aksoy Research’s survey, the rate of MHP supporters who gave the same answer to this question was 11.5 percent.

Researcher Can Selcuki evaluated the sharia discussions on Halk TV. Selcuki made interesting observations and explained the reasons why alliance politics gives way to extreme ideas. According to Selcuki, alliance politics will end for both the opposition and the ruling party after the March 31 elections, which would reduce the attractiveness of  pandering to sharia backers.

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Published By: Atilla Yeşilada

GlobalSource Partners’ Turkey Country Analyst Atilla Yesilada is the country’s leading political analyst and commentator. He is known throughout the finance and political science world for his thorough and outspoken coverage of Turkey’s political and financial developments. In addition to his extensive writing schedule, he is often called upon to provide his political expertise on major radio and television channels. Based in Istanbul, Atilla is co-founder of the information platform Istanbul Analytics and is one of GlobalSource’s local partners in Turkey. In addition to his consulting work and speaking engagements throughout the US, Europe and the Middle East, he writes regular columns for Turkey’s leading financial websites VATAN and and has contributed to the financial daily Referans and the liberal daily Radikal.