Felicity Party website, April 20, 2010
Professor Necmettin Erbakan
Felicity Party leader Kurtulmuş (center)
Convention in Turkey of IHH members and the Viva Palestina movement of the British George Galloway
1. Among the Turkish Islamic activists who came on board the Mavi Marmara were members of the Turkish Felicity Party (Saadet Partisi), which announced its support of the flotilla on April 20.
2. The Felicity Party is an Islamic party with an anti-Western and anti-Israeli agenda, which supports Hamas. Two of the party activists were killed while taking part in fighting against the IDF alongside the hard-core operatives of IHH (an organization that played a central role in planning and organizing the violent confrontation with the IDF).
3. See Appendix for a profile of the Turkish Felicity Party.
The Turkish Felicity Party—profile
Turkish: Saadet Partisi
Arabic: حزب السعادة
1. There are now several Islamic parties operating in Turkey, even though they avoid defining themselves as such out of fear of legal action. The major Islamic parties are the ruling party—the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Felicity Party (FP).
Professor Necmettin Erbakan, the founder of the Welfare Party,
from which the Felicity Party originated (Wikipedia)
2. Both parties originated in the Welfare Party (Refah Partisi), the traditional Islamic party of Islamist ex-politician Necmettin Erbakan, the father of the National View movement (Millî Görüş). When the party was banned for the fourth time (June 2001) for having allegedly violated secular clauses of the constitution, the conservative and reformist factions inside the party split and established the SP and AKP parties, respectively.
3. The conservative Felicity Party, headed by Kutan, who accompanied Erbakan from the very start, sought to focus most of its activities on state-religion relations and use education, propaganda, and political involvement to strengthen political Islam and shape Turkey’s domestic and foreign policy in its spirit. All the while, the party adhered (albeit not publicly) to traditional Islamic values.
4. Since October 2008, the party has been headed by Prof. Numan Kurtulmuş, born in 1959 and considered to be Erbakan’s successor. He has a Ph.D. from the prestigious University of Cornell and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Istanbul. He emphasizes in his public statements the significance of "spiritual values in society”, engaging with the so-called problematic nature of secularism in Turkey.
Felicity Party leader Kurtulmuş (center)
with IHH president Bulent Yildirim (left) (IHH website)
FP’s election failures and strengthening thereafter
5. In the general elections held on November 3, 2002, the party gained only 2.5 percent of votes and did not pass the election threshold (10 percent) for the parliament. In the local elections held on March 29, 2004, the party won only 4.1 percent of votes, which was still enough for it to be able to appoint several mayors on its behalf (none of them particularly important). In the 2007 elections, the party won less than 3 percent of votes. Its lack of success in elections apparently resulted from the success of Erdogan’s AKP, the ruling party, which competes with it for the same voters.
6. Despite the Felicity Party’s failures in elections, it is considered an important party due to its strong organizational apparatus, which operates outside of political power structures. It appears that the party grows steadily stronger, and if a recent poll held in February 2010 is to be believed, it will win no less than 5.5 percent of votes in the next elections.
7. The platform of the party is clearly based on the views of Erbakan, espousing close cooperation and unity among Muslim countries and struggle against Zionism. He detailed that ideology in 1969 in a manifest called "The National View” (Millî Görüş). The manifest goes into great detail about religious education and Islamic morals, but also discusses industrialization, development, and economic independence. In the sphere of foreign relations, Erbakan warned against further rapprochement with Europe, claiming that the European market is "Zionist and Catholic” and intends to bring about Turkey’s de-Islamization and its assimilation into the West. Instead, he called for closer economic cooperation with Muslim countries and even established the G-8 organization (which includes the eight developed Muslim countries).
8. Even though the current leader of the Felicity Party admits that it’s been many years since the publication of The National View and some of the views portrayed therein (mainly when it comes to economy) are in need of revision, the party still considers the manifest a defining document based on which it formulates its current views: the party condemns what it sees as the government’s self-effacing attitude towards the European Union and its desire to join it at any cost; it calls to make Turkey a permanent member of the Security Council; condemns the military relations with Israel and the US; and claims that Turkey must adopt a confrontational foreign and military policy towards what it considers to be growing threats posed by the West to all Muslim countries. The call for such a policy is the main difference from Erbakan’s views.
9. At a conference held days after the flotilla, the Felicity Party presented its economic, social, and national-religious vision for the third decade of the 21st century. Kurtulmuş gives Turkey the role of the leader of the Third World. In his vision, the West will stop being attractive, and Turkey will be the one to defend "Muslim brothers” all over the world suffering from poverty, discrimination, occupation, and exploitation.
Attitude towards Israel and support of Hamas and Hezbollah
10. It appears that the party also supports an active "resistance” (mukavemet – muqawama) against Israel. For example, on September 18, 2006, Felicity Party senior official Recai Kutan said at a conference held in Konya about the second Lebanon war that Hezbollah and Hamas were heroes defending their homelands. He added that the UN was running a deceitful agenda, with its real intent being to disarm Hezbollah. At that time, the Felicity Party organized conferences to support Hamas and Hezbollah under the title "Israel be cursed” or "Israel be damned” (Kahrolsun Israil, a slogan heard since 2006 at anti-Israeli demonstrations in Turkey) (Almoltaka.ps).
11. Members of the Felicity Party sympathize with the IHH, with many IHH operatives being members and supporters of the Felicity Party. On April 20, 2010, Felicity Party leader Numan Kurtulmuş called a press conference in which he expressed support of the IHH and the flotilla, calling it a "bold, historic move”. He also condemned the arrest of IHH operative Izzet Shahin in the West Bank and threatened a diplomatic crisis if Israel did not release him. He also stated that Israel was the "only entity” that had no formal borders with any of its neighbors, since it was still expanding and gradually invading Palestinian territories. He further added that Israel sought to conduct an oppressive siege on the Gaza Strip without taking international condemnations into consideration. He warned Israel against any attempt to attack the flotilla ships, and called on the Turkish administration to confront Israel’s "policy of expansion” at international conferences.
12. The Felicity Party supports Hamas and has contacts with it. In January 2010, Isma’il Haniyah, the Hamas de-facto administration chief in the Gaza Strip, met with Felicity Party representative Temel Karamollaoğlu. During the meeting, Isma’il Haniyah thanked Felicity Party leader Prof. Numan Kurtulmuş "for his support and the Turkish people’s support of Palestine” (Felicity Party website, January 11, 2010).
13. As a classic Islamic party, the Felicity Party operates both as a political party and a social organization. Since its establishment, the party has deployed an extensive network of Islamic charitable societies and organizational-political branches. The party has branches almost in every province, city, or village, and it demonstrates considerable presence. The party’s well-developed social apparatus allows it to recruit many supporters, particularly from the popular sectors of society. It is therefore able to organize demonstrations and protest rallies attended by thousands of supporters. Its branches in southeastern Turkey, far away from the eyes of the central government, are thriving.
14. Notable examples of the party’s activity and anti-Western or anti-Israeli statements made by its leaders:
a. 2004: Demonstration against the US attack on Fallujah
b. 2005: Demonstration against offending Islam due to the Prophet Muhammad cartoons affair.
c. 2006: Mass demonstration in Istanbul in protest of the Pope’s expected visit to Turkey. The party claimed that the Pope had not sufficiently apologized to Muslims for offending the Prophet and Islam.
d. 2007: Statement expressing "disgust” with Israeli Prime Minister Olmert’s visit to Turkey, held on the backdrop of tension on Temple Mount, noting that he was a persona non grata. The party claimed that Israel was an aggressive country engaged in "state-sponsored terrorism” and destabilizing the region. It expressed concern that the purpose of the visit was to resume military cooperation and resurrect the idea of selling water to Israel.
e. 2008-2009: Demonstrations against Operation Cast Lead.
f. 2010: Exposure of a report written by the American consulate in Istanbul, allegedly confirming that religious minorities receive defense courses inside the consulate. The exposure stirred a controversy and party leader Kurtulmuş claimed that the US was obviously meddling in Turkey’s internal affairs.