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MIDDLE EASTERN FUNDAMENTALIST SOCIAL NETWORKS’ FUNCTIONS: IN THE CASE OF "DENİZ FENERİ" 25/12/2009

Posted by Aykut ARIKAN in Uncategorized.
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MIDDLE EASTERN FUNDAMENTALIST SOCIAL NETWORKS’ FUNCTIONS: IN THE CASE OF “DENİZ FENERİ”: “Hi, here’s my blog in English. I will present my articles and opinions by this channel to rest of the world.
This paper was presented by me on April 4, 2009, in New Orleans/Lousiana.
The symposium was held by Southern Sociological Society in USA. Official schedule was realized between April 1-4, 2009 in Monteolone Hotel. Symposium’s theme was Inequalities Across the Life Course. Our session’s name was Political Sociology I which was realized among 11:00-12:20 hours in No:161 room. My paper’s name was “Middle Eastern Fundamentalist Social Networks’ Functions: In the Case of Deniz Feneri”
My best regards,
Dr.Deniz Tansi

Especially in the Middle East, fundamentalist Islamist groups, gain their legitimacy with their own social networks. From Afghanistan to Palestine, different Islamist factions applicate this method. Taliban in Afghanistan, Hamas in Palestine , Hizballah in Lebanon, have powerful social networks.
However, the social networks which is underlined in this study, can not be a solution against poverty. These fundamentalist groups feed from poverty. Social networks do not target to found a social state. And not about to reduce inequalities.
Main problem, to delay democratic demands and to establish a totalitarian religious regime.
In Turkish public opinion , the social network which is called as “Deniz Feneri” became a corruption issue. Corruption is related to support political Islam with donations. But citizens’ donations demand is about just to help innocent, poor people. Some of the social networks manipulate persons’ emotions.
“Deniz Feneri” is an indicator for understanding “Moderate Islam” debates. Moderate Islam’s financial infrastructure and political solidarity can be perceived with “Deniz Feneri”s mechanism.
We will analyze “Deniz Feneri”s approach to comment Middle Eastern social networks’ functions. In this context, will try to indicate fundemantalist social networks do not want to destroy inequalities but to maintain them for arriving or keeping political powers.
And fundamentalist approaches target to capture all spheres of the life why they are totalitarian.

“DENİZ FENERİ” CASE AS A SOCIAL NETWORK
Social networks are so strategic for the current societies. According to Castells, “religious fundametalism – Christian, Islamic, Jewish, Hindu, and even Buddhist- is probably the most formidable force for personal security and collective mobilization in these troubled times. In a world of global flows of wealth, power and images, the search for identity, collective or individual, ascribed or constructed, becomes the fundamental source of social meaning.” Therefore religious fundamentalism feeds and creates social networks in the global world.
In Turkey, like other Middle Eastern countries, religious fundamentalism reflects itself with social networks. Charity organizations are so significant in that case. They work for political Islam’s infrastructure with communatarian solidarity and religious emotions. Deniz Feneri is one of them. First of all, we can observe, how Deniz Feneri explains its internal structure. Deniz Feneri describes itself as “Information technology, manpower and effective use of resources; are the most important factors in establishing a reliable and efficient system. Deniz Feneri is a humanitarian association with international standards.” And also the organisation allegates the qualities with global standards. “The donation and aid processes were handled in detail by ISO 9001 quality system initialized in 2001.” Deniz Feneri announces to the people with the question of “how can you help?” Question includes three main items : National Projects, International Projects and Gift Dialogue.
Volunteering and donations are the essential components of Deniz Feneri. It provides the network on the country. Deniz Feneri was registered as an association in 1998 and according to Deniz Feneri, it was arrived to a corporational structure in 2002. In the medium term, Deniz Feneri used its political comrade Kanal 7 (Channel 7) TV. Kanal 7 broadcasted the TV programme which was called Deniz Feneri. The organisation registered many volunteer and gained donations by the TV programme.
Deniz Feneri and Kanal 7 are the political fans of Turkey’s ruling party AKP. It’s administrational body has close relations with AKP. The organisation was accused by German courts related with corruption in 2008. There is one more Deniz Feneri in Germany but it does not reflect the reality. Different bodies work parallel and maintain network. Deniz Feneri is the one of the tool of Moderate Islam policy which targets to transfom the Turkish people into a religious society and realize social hegemony concept, as Gramsci underlined. According to Gramsci, hegemony was a form of control exercised primarily through a society’s superstructure, as opposed to its base or social relations of production of a predominately economic character. Deniz Feneri is the one of the pioneer network of creating a new civil society related with non secular Islamic society. Cultural relations are the origin points of social hegemony. Why we must underline political coordination of Deniz Feneri.
Neofundamentalism is stated by Olivier Roy which is related to create a new truth. ‘”Neofundamentalism provides an alternative group identity that does not impinge upon the individual life of the believer, precisely because such a community is imagined and has no real social basis.” Social networks in the case of Deniz Feneri service to built new truth which is connected with Gramsci’s “truth regime”.
Israel’s Gaza operation between December 08- January 09 and Gaza’s situation after war, started intensive emotions into the innocent Palestinian people. Deniz Feneri’s campaign about Gaza’s residents directly was perceived to support Hamas not to innocent people. It can be commented political solidarity which is underlined political Islam in this context. And also this campaign indicated ruling party’s political targets to have legitimacy.
Some of the NGO’s are the main components for building a new society which is related “new truth” concept. Especially we mean NGO’s which services as the social networks in the context of religious fraternity. On this step, Butko’s article is a functional indicator to understand what we underline:
A Gramscian theoretical framework helps to demonstrate that the contemporary Islamic theorists, most specifically, seek to project Islam as a revolutionary ideological system through which to construct a unified and disciplined organisation. Consequently, they intend to extend its appeal through a deliberate and concerted strategy that aims to challenge and overthrow the current secularised regimes (i.e., hegemonic forces) and to substitute in its place a fundamentally new and unique political and social system. By constructing a viable counterhegemonic force (i.e., a political organisation erected upon religious foundations) capable of overthrowing the dominant powers, they desire not only the seizure of political power, but also to establish a genuine revolutionary movement through the creation a new society, a new morality and, most fundamentally, a new type of man. Hence, it is through the application of a Gramscian analysis that the practical and theoretical components of the contemporary phenomenon of ‘political Islam’ can be more accurately understood.
Deniz Feneri’s efforts can be evaulated to arrive political power and a new society. Althusser’s idea of “ideological state apparatuses” must be perceived with our approach. As Gramsci defined the concept of state, supported the tangible relationship between state and society. ‘State = political society + civil society, in other words hegemony protected by the armor of coercion’ Gramsci explained the definition with these other words. “State=Dictatorship+Hegemony”.
Also Butko indicates economic conditions as we can observe from Deniz Feneri’s challenges. “In terms of the greater revolutionary process, since Gramsci seeks to garner the support of all those individuals who are disenchanted with the current socioeconomic structure and desire its overthrow, it is a commonality or similarity in experience—a shared perception of repression, exclusion, and marginalisation— which coalesces the members of a counter-hegemonic bloc regardless of a common or shared economic condition.”
In the case of Deniz Feneri can be analyzed by Gramscian doctrine as Femia considered. “To Gramsci, the paramount aim in a ‘war of position’ is to infiltrate civil society through the dissemination of new ideas and, in the process, to intellectually and culturally prepare the ground for the volutionary movement’s assault on hegemonic dominance”.
Prof. Buğra explained the term of “sadaka” which we translated as charity related to found “alternative civil society”. Turkish PM, referred to term of sadaka “Sadaka exist in our culture.” He indicated religious culture to realize charity which related to maintain social solidarity. However, instead of social solidarity, communitarian solidarity reflected itself. Buğra’s comments underlined sadaka’s –Islamic charity- function and market economy’s situation. Prof. Buğra underlined the point in an interview which was published in daily Milliyet.
“ In 1980s to the market was so confident that the market solves all problems, there is also created employment, poverty was thought to prevent. By the 1990s it is not seen such conduct and voluntary initiatives has started to come into models. Volunteers help the charity when you already have a dose of religion is one. Hence conservatism’s complete market economy, became supporter. Already we have seen today, liberalism is not a pure thing, ‘conservative liberalism’, a system supported by institutions outside the economy.”
Deniz Feneri case, reflects “total charity” concept. It is the new application of pro Islamic social networks. Another total method is valid about “zekat” which means distribution of one fortieth of one’s income as alms (one of the five pillars of the Islamic faith). All of the new total social donations are not similar with the traditional Islamic religious affiliation. Why classical approach was realized individually for centuries. New types of the pro Islamic charities are affected from modern organization’s some methods. However indicated endeavors aim to create alternative civil society for founding political Islamic state.
CONCLUSION: A SUICIDE QUESTION FOR DEMOCRACY.
“WHERE COMPETITION ENDS?”
Competition is the essential framework for a modern democratic regime. Most dangerous question is asked by Sartori. “Where competition ends?” .
Democratic tools are determiner for a sustainable democracy. Fundamentalist religious organizations –we mean not only social networks, but also political parties, etc.- target a religious totalitarian society. And related issue is to create new truth. Another allegation was stated by Fukuyama which indicated “history ends.”
Democracies do not mention a winner which would rule forever. Alternatives are -sine qua non- items for a real democracy.
Sartori explained a non competitive system which these words: “ As noted with respect to the pre-dominant party systems, the minor parties must be truly independent antagonists of the major party. If the seats are contested – that is, if the candidate of the pre-dominant party are opposed without fear and with ‘equal rights’- then competition is significant, regardless of outcome, and the meaning of ‘truly independent antagonists’ is clear enogh. “
While Turkey was shifting its economic model from import substitution to market economy, the main change was legitimized through the Turkish Islam synthesis which was supported by the September 12 military administration and the subsequent ANAP governments, exploiting the nationalist and religious sentiments of the masses. The Islamic capitalists which are known as “Anatolian Tigers” globalized in line with the globalization of the Turkish economy. Within this framework, they learned foreign languages, got familiar to information technologies, and began to visit and get to know not only the Arab states but also the US and European states as a part of their jobs although their religious sensitivities continued in their private lives. They became familiar with concepts such as the stock market, global movements of capital, multi-national companies, IMF, and the EU just in line with the advances of Turkey. In the meantime, some tariqats organized themselves in education, insurance and media sectors and preferred to develop organic cooperation with the US. They received high consideration as much to come together with the Pope and other religious leaders. The dramatic enrichment of tariqat leaders and the transformation of tariqats into economic and political power holders have traumatized the sensible segments of the Turkish society in the post-Cold War context since the disappearance of inter-block struggle uncovered the religious politics. As a result of the aforementioned bourgeoisification and globalization process, the second generation of Milli Görüş stood against the traditionalist elite of the party and started the internal struggle in Refah Partisi- (Welfare Party). After the closure of Fazilet Partisi (Virtue Party) the new generation founded AKP while the traditionalist Saadet Partisi (Felicity Party) held onto the Milli Görüş line.
AKP and Deniz Feneri are the outcomes of these political and social developments. We can underline Deniz Feneri is related post cold war era. In this context, main threat to democracy intersects with the some orientalist approaches like Samuel Huntington. Huntington’s “clash of civizilations” concept deny democracy for the rest of the world. And also Huntington tries to end ideologies’ existence and competition. Neuman’s theory of “spiral of silence”, the fundamental values begin to be perceived as common values.
Social networks in the case of Deniz Feneri prepare registered donators, supporters and voters which would end the democratic competition. The new truth threats democracy with using of democratic forms.

REFERENCES:

Books:
Antonio Gramsci, Antonio Gramsci: Pre-Prison Writings, Cambridge UP, Cambridge, 1994

Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann, The Spiral of Silence: Public Opinion – Our Social Skin, University of Chicago Press, 1993.

John Higgins, Raymond Williams: Literature, Marxism and Cultural Materialism, Routledge, London.

Giovanni Sartori, “Where Competition Ends?”, Party and Party Systems, ECPR Press Classic, Essex, 2005.

Manuel Castells, The Rise of the Network Society Volume I, Blackwell Publishing, Cambridge, 2000.

Olivier Roy, Globalised Islam: The Search for a New Ummah, C Hurst and Co, London, 2004

Q.Hoare G. Nowell Smith (ed), Selection from the Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci, International Publishers and Lawrence&Wishart, New York and London,

Articles:
Joseph Femia, ‘Hegemony and Consciousness in the Thought of Antonio Gramsci’,Political Studies,1975, 23, 1 (March), pp. 29–48.

Thomas J. Butko, “Revelation or Revolution: A Gramscian Approach to the Rise of Political Islam”, British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Carfax Publishing, London, May 2004, 31 (1), p. 42

Internet Resources:
“Deniz Feneri Model”, http://www.denizfeneri.org/icerik.aspx?kod=DENIZFENERIMODEL
“Deniz Feneri On Ground in Palastine”, http://www.denizfeneri.org.tr/icerik.aspx?kod=PALASTINE2

Devrim Sevimay, “Asıl Mesele Sadakanın Politik İktisadı”, (interview with Prof.Buğra), Milliyet, February 23, 2009. http://www.milliyet.com.tr/Guncel/HaberDetay.aspx?aType=HaberDetay&ArticleID=1063049&Date=23.02.2009&b=

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