Media and Mysticism: Erdogan vs. Gülen

Tayyip Erdoğan receives much criticism from Western media because of his conservative and repressive policies. It’s quite difficult to refer to him as a typical example of ‘Sufism’ or Islamic mysticism. Nevertheless, for a long time Tayyip Erdoğan belonged to the Naqshbandi tariqa — one of the eldest and most widely spread mystical brotherhoods in contemporary Turkey.Interestingly the Gülen movement, which, in the last few years, grew out to be one of Erdoğan’s greatest political enemies, also has a supposed 'Sufi' background. After all, the Gülen movement is led by the spiritual leader Fethullah Gülen, who lives in the US and explicitly places himself within Turkish Sufi traditions. Yet although Erdoğan’s history in the Iskenderpaşa community is seldom discussed, the ‘Sufism’ of the Gülen movement is frequently given extra attention.