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Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

Democracy (For Me): Religious and Secular Beliefs in Turkey and Liberal Democracy

Murat Somer, Koç University in Istanbul
Date: Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Time: 12:00-1:15 PM
Location: Boisi Center, 24 Quincy Road

Islamist political movements demanding an Islamic state or greater roles for Islam in society and politics have long been thought to be incompatible with western, liberal democracy. However, the most significant improvements in Turkey’s democracy in the last decade have been achieved under the government of the AKP, an Islamic-conservative party founded by reformist Islamists. This experience has divided scholarly opinion. This presentation brings in empirical evidence from the systematic content analysis of various Turkish news sources and addresses the implications of these findings for the relationship between political beliefs and behavior, theories of democratization particularly in semi-democracies, the democracy-secularism relationship, and Turkey’s democratization.

headshot of Murat Somer

Murat Somer is an Associate Professor of International Relations at Koç University in Istanbul. Somer's research examines ethnic identities and conflict, public and private polarization, democratization, religious politics, and secularism, with area emphases on political Islam, the Kurdish conflict, Turkey, the Balkans, and the Middle East. His research has appeared in book chapters and journals such as The Annals of the AAPSS, Comparative Political Studies, The Middle East Journal, and Third World Quarterly. He holds a BA in Economics from Boğaziçi University in Istanbul, and an MA in Economics and a PhD in Political Economy and Public Policy from the University of Southern California. Before joining Koç University, he was a Mellon Post-doctoral Fellow and lecturer at the Jackson School of International Studies of the University of Washington, Seattle. Somer is currently a visiting scholar at Harvard’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies.