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Islamic Calvinists

September 2005

In September, ESI published its first major report on Turkey: Islamic Calvinists. The report triggered an enormous amount of interest in Turkey, with op-eds in all of the major papers and a series of televised debates.

The report described the extraordinary social and economic changes which have taken place in the Central Anatolian province of Kayseri, turning an old silk-route trading town into a major industrial centre. The story of Kayseri's success created little controversy. What some found provocative was the argument that, on its path to prosperity, Central Anatolian society had also found an accommodation between capitalism and traditional Islamic values.

For some, both on the religious right and the ultra-secularist left, this was an outrageous claim. One commentator devoted no less than 8 opinion pieces in the mass circulation Hürriyet to denouncing the report. However, most commentators, including the Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül, supported the analysis that in Central Anatolia "economic success has created a social milieu in which Islam and modernity coexist comfortably."

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