Hacı Bişkin/ DUVAR

A schoolteacher in the district of Silopi in the southeastern province of Şırnak has been punished for sharing a post on Facebook where he quoted the late influential Islamist politician Necmettin Erbakan, criticizing tax increases on gasoline and diesel fuel. 

An investigation was opened against the teacher, S.A., who was subsequently punished by being sent to another school far away from the one at which he was previously teaching, and had his rank advancement suspended by one year. 

S.A. quoted a well-known speech from Erbakan from decades prior, where he criticized then-Süleyman Demirel-led government for raising fuel prices. “Are you a traffic policeman, or an automatic button?” Erbakan said.

During the investigation, S.A. was reportedly asked, “who were you referring to when you said ‘are you an automatic button’?” The teacher responded by saying that these weren’t his words but Erbakan’s, and that he was criticizing the current poor state of the economy, and was referring to Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, the son-in-law of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. 

Necmettin Erbakan is considered to be among the founding fathers of Islamist politics in Turkey, leading a number of parties throughout years, including the Welfare Party (RP), of which Erdoğan was a member during his tenure as Istanbul’s mayor during the 1990’s. 

Erbakan, who did not conceal his Islamist views and desire to achieve closer political and economic ties with the Islamic world, briefly served as prime minister in 1996-1997 in a coalition government before being forced out in February 28, 1997 in what has been dubbed Turkey’s “postmodern coup,” where the military strongly urged Erbakan to step down from his post via a memorandum. He passed away in 2011. 

Erdoğan broke away from Erbakan’s overt Islamist tradition when he founded the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the early 2000’s, which at the time was hailed as a conservative, pro-EU party. The primary successor to Erbakan’s Islamist movement today is the Felicity Party (SP), a small, yet well-established and vocal party that has emerged as a fierce opposition to Erdoğan and the AKP.