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Turkey’s AKP-Gulen conflict in context

The row over private tutoring halls between the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Gulen community is just a smoke screen in their power struggle over controlling the state.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan addresses the media as he sits in front of a portrait of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of secular Turkey, at Esenboga Airport in Ankara November 21, 2013.  A feud between Erdogan and an influential Islamic cleric, Fethullah Gulen, has spilled into the open months ahead of elections, highlighting fractures in the religiously conservative support base underpinning his decade in power. REUTERS/Umit Bektas (TURKEY - Tags: POLITICS RELIGION) - RTX15NGN
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A rough political row is simmering in Turkey. The sparring sides, however, are not two political parties as it would have been in a normal democracy. Because Turkey remains an abnormal democracy — one of the sides is a political party, while the other a religious community. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) has locked horns with the Hizmet Movement — or “the Community” as it is widely called in Turkey — of Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen. A fierce propaganda war is under way, especially on social networks. The government’s plan to close down private tutoring halls, the spark that ignited the current row, is just a smoke screen. The real struggle is about who will rule the state. 

Let’s briefly review the chronology of the conflict. 

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