Necmettin Erbakan
Necmettin Erbakan was a Turkish
Turkish people
Turkish people, also known as the "Turks" , are an ethnic group primarily living in Turkey and in the former lands of the Ottoman Empire where Turkish minorities had been established in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Romania...

An engineer is a professional practitioner of engineering, concerned with applying scientific knowledge, mathematics and ingenuity to develop solutions for technical problems. Engineers design materials, structures, machines and systems while considering the limitations imposed by practicality,...

, academic, politician
A politician, political leader, or political figure is an individual who is involved in influencing public policy and decision making...

 (eventually political party leader), who was the Prime Minister of Turkey
Prime Minister of Turkey
The Prime Minister of the Turkey is the head of government in Turkish politics. The prime minister is the leader of a political coalition in the Turkish parliament and the leader of the cabinet....

 from 1996 until 1997. He was Turkey's first Islamist Prime Minister. In 1997 he was pressured by the military to step down as prime minister and later banned from politics by the constitutional court.

Early life and education

Erbakan was born in Sinop
Sinop, Turkey
Sinop is a city with a population of 36,734 on İnce Burun , by its Cape Sinop which is situated on the most northern edge of the Turkish side of Black Sea coast, in the ancient region of Paphlagonia, in modern-day northern Turkey, historically known as Sinope...

, at the coast of Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

 in northern Turkey. His father was Mehmet Sabri, a judge from the prestigious Kozanoğlu clan (Oghuz Turks
Oghuz Turks
The Turkomen also known as Oghuz Turks were a historical Turkic tribal confederation in Central Asia during the early medieval Turkic expansion....

 , Afshar tribe
Afshar tribe
Afshars, also called Avshar are a branch of the Turkic Oghuz groups. These originally nomadic Oghuz tribes moved from Central Asia through Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, and finally most of them settled in Anatolia.Most of Afshars are followers of Shia Islam....

) of Cilicia
In antiquity, Cilicia was the south coastal region of Asia Minor, south of the central Anatolian plateau. It existed as a political entity from Hittite times into the Byzantine empire...

 and his mother Kamer was a native of Sinop and second wife of Mehmet Sabri.

After the high school education in Istanbul High School, he graduated from the Mechanical Engineering Faculty at the Istanbul Technical University
Istanbul Technical University
Istanbul Technical University is an international technical university located in Istanbul, Turkey. It is the world's third oldest technical university dedicated to engineering sciences as well as social sciences recently, and is one of the most prominent educational institutions in Turkey...

 in 1948 with a GPA of 4.00/4.00, and received a PhD
PHD may refer to:*Ph.D., a doctorate of philosophy*Ph.D. , a 1980s British group*PHD finger, a protein sequence*PHD Mountain Software, an outdoor clothing and equipment company*PhD Docbook renderer, an XML renderer...

 degree from the RWTH Aachen University, Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

. After returning to Turkey, Erbakan became lecturer at the İTÜ and was appointed professor in 1965 at the same university. After working some time in leading position in the industry, he switched over to politics, and was elected deputy of Konya
Konya is a city in the Central Anatolia Region of Turkey. The metropolitan area in the entire Konya Province had a population of 1,036,027 as of 2010, making the city seventh most populous in Turkey.-Etymology:...

 in 1969.

As well as his political career, Erbakan had his success in mechanical engineering and has invented several devices. He was the chief engineer in the team that designed German Leopard 1A tanks
Leopard tank
The Leopard is a main battle tank designed and produced in West Germany that first entered service in 1965. Developed in an era when HEAT warheads were thought to make conventional heavy armour of limited value, the Leopard focussed on firepower in the form of the German-built version of the...


Political activities

Erbakan's ideology is set forth in a manifesto
A manifesto is a public declaration of principles and intentions, often political in nature. Manifestos relating to religious belief are generally referred to as creeds. Manifestos may also be life stance-related.-Etymology:...

, entitled Millî Görüş
Millî Görüs
Millî Görüş has been called one of "the leading Turkish diaspora organizations in Europe". Founded in 1969, the movement claimed to have "87,000 members across Europe, including 50,000 in Germany," as of 2005...

(National View), which he published in 1969. The Islamist organisation of the same name, which he founded and of which he is the leader, upholds nowadays that the word "national" is to be understood in the sense of monotheistic
Monotheism is the belief in the existence of one and only one god. Monotheism is characteristic of the Baha'i Faith, Christianity, Druzism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Samaritanism, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism.While they profess the existence of only one deity, monotheistic religions may still...

Ecumenism or oecumenism mainly refers to initiatives aimed at greater Christian unity or cooperation. It is used predominantly by and with reference to Christian denominations and Christian Churches separated by doctrine, history, and practice...


One the leading names in Turkish politics for decades, Erbakan was the leader of a series of Islamist political parties that he founded or inspired. These parties rose to prominence only to be banned by Turkey's secular authorities. In the 1970s, Erbakan was chairman of the National Salvation Party
National Salvation Party
The National Salvation Party was an Islamist political party in Turkey founded on 11 October 1972 as the successor of the banned National Order Party . The party was led by Necmettin Erbakan...

 which, at its peak, served in coalition with the Republican People's Party
Republican People's Party (Turkey)
The Republican People's Party is a centre-left Kemalist political party in Turkey. It is the oldest political party of Turkey and is currently Main Opposition in the Grand National Assembly. The Republican People's Party describes itself as "a modern social-democratic party, which is faithful to...

 of Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit
Bülent Ecevit
Mustafa Bülent Ecevit was a Turkish politician, poet, writer and journalist, who was the leader of Republican People's Party , later of the Democratic Left Party and four-time Prime Minister of Turkey.- Personal life :...

 during the Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

 crisis of 1974.

In the wake of the 1980 military coup
Military coup in Turkey, 1980
The 12 September 1980 Turkish coup d'état, headed by Chief of the General Staff General Kenan Evren, was the third coup d'état in the history of the Republic after the 1960 coup and the 1971 "Coup by Memorandum"....

, Erbakan and his party were banned from politics. He reemerged following a referendum to lift the ban in 1987 and became the leader of Refah Partisi (Welfare Party). His party benefited in the 1990s from the acrimony between the leaders of Turkey's two most prominent conservative parties, Mesut Yılmaz
Mesut Yilmaz
Ahmet Mesut Yılmaz is the former leader of the Motherland Party and was the Turkish prime minister in the 1990s.Mesut Yılmaz was a rising star in the Motherland Party of Turgut Özal, representing the Black Sea province of Rize in the parliament and serving as tourism minister in Ozal's cabinet...

 and Tansu Çiller
Tansu Çiller
Tansu Penbe Çiller is a Turkish economist and politician. She was Turkey's first and only female Prime Minister.- Early career :She is the daughter of a Turkish governor of Bilecik province during the 1950s. She graduated from the School of Economics at Robert College after finishing the American...

. He led his party to a surprise success in the general elections of 1995.

Prime Ministership

He became Prime Minister in 1996 in coalition with Çiller's Doğru Yol Partisi (Correct Path Party), becoming the first devout Muslim to hold the office in modern Turkey. As prime minister, he attempted to further Turkey's relations with the Arab nations. In addition to trying to follow an economic welfare program, which was supposedly intended to increase welfare among Turkish citizens, the government tried to implement multi-dimensional political approach to relations with the neighboring countries.

Erbakan's image was damaged by his famous speech making fun of the nightly demonstrations against the Susurluk scandal
Susurluk scandal
The Susurluk scandal was a scandal involving the close relationship between the Turkish government, the armed forces, and organized crime. It took place during the peak of the Turkey–Kurdistan Workers' Party conflict, in the mid-1990s...

. Even though his government had no responsibility for the scandal, he was nevertheless widely blamed at the time for his indifference. The Turkish military gradually increased the harshness and frequency of its public warnings to Erbakan's government, eventually prompting Erbakan to step down 1997.

At the time there was a formal deal between Prime Minister Erbakan, and the leader of Doğru Yol, Tansu Ciller, for a "period based premiership". According to this, Erbakan was to act as the Prime Minister for a certain period (a fixed amount of time, which was not publicized), then he would step down in favour of Tansu Ciller. However, Ciller's party was the third in the parliament, and when Erbakan stepped down, President Süleyman Demirel
Süleyman Demirel
Sami Süleyman Gündoğdu Demirel, better known as Süleyman Demirel , is a Turkish politician who served as Prime Minister seven times and was the ninth President of Turkey.-Life:Demirel was born in İslamköy, a town in Isparta Province...

 asked Mesut Yılmaz
Mesut Yilmaz
Ahmet Mesut Yılmaz is the former leader of the Motherland Party and was the Turkish prime minister in the 1990s.Mesut Yılmaz was a rising star in the Motherland Party of Turgut Özal, representing the Black Sea province of Rize in the parliament and serving as tourism minister in Ozal's cabinet...

, leader of the second-biggest party, to form a new government. Since this whole act was after the infamous 28 February 1997 National Security Council meeting orchestrated by the military (who was against the Erbakan government), this has been claimed as a "postmodern coup" by some.


Erbakan's ruling Welfare Party
Welfare Party
The Welfare Party was an Islamist political party in Turkey. It was founded by Ali Türkmen, Ahmet Tekdal and Necmettin Erbakan in Ankara in 1983 as heir to two earlier parties, Milli Nizam Partisi and Milli Selamet Partisi , which were banned from politics...

 was subsequently banned by the courts, who judged that the party had an agenda to promote Islamic fundamentalism
Islamic fundamentalism
Islamic fundamentalism is a term used to describe religious ideologies seen as advocating a return to the "fundamentals" of Islam: the Quran and the Sunnah. Definitions of the term vary. According to Christine L...

 in the state, and Erbakan was barred once again from active politics.

Despite often being under political ban, Erbakan nonetheless acted as a mentor and informal advisor to former Refah members who founded the Virtue Party
Virtue Party
Virtue Party was an Islamist political party established in December 1998 in Turkey. It was found unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court and then banned in June 2001, for violating the secularist articles of the Constitution...

 in 1997. The Virtue Party was found unconstitutional in 2001 and banned; by that time Erbakan's ban on political activities had ended and he founded the Felicity Party, of which he was the leader in 2003–2004 and again from 2010 till his death.


Erbakan died on 27 February 2011 at 11:40 local time of heart failure at Güven Hospital in Çankaya, Ankara
Ankara is the capital of Turkey and the country's second largest city after Istanbul. The city has a mean elevation of , and as of 2010 the metropolitan area in the entire Ankara Province had a population of 4.4 million....


His body was transferred to Istanbul, and following the religious funeral service at the Fatih Mosque
Fatih Mosque
The Fatih Mosque or Conqueror's Mosque in English) is an Ottoman imperial mosque located in the Fatih district of Istanbul, Turkey. It was one of the largest examples of Turkish-Islamic architecture in Istanbul and represented an important stage in the development of classic Turkish...

, the attending crowd accompanied his coffin the about 4 km (2.5 mi) way to the Merkezefendi Cemetery
Merkezefendi Cemetery
The Merkezefendi Cemetery is a burial ground situated in Merkezefendi neighborhood of Zeytinburnu district on the European part of Istanbul, Turkey.Many renowned intellectuals, writers and artists rest in this old cemetery covering an area of ....

, where he was laid to rest beside his wife Nermin. He did not wish a state funeral
State funeral
A state funeral is a public funeral ceremony, observing the strict rules of protocol, held to honor heads of state or other important people of national significance. State funerals usually include much pomp and ceremony as well as religious overtones and distinctive elements of military tradition...

, however his funeral was attended by highest state and government officials.


His foreign policy had two main pillars: Close cooperation and unity among Muslim countries and struggle against Zionism
Zionism is a Jewish political movement that, in its broadest sense, has supported the self-determination of the Jewish people in a sovereign Jewish national homeland. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, the Zionist movement continues primarily to advocate on behalf of the Jewish state...

. He created "D-8" or The Developing Eight
Developing 8 Countries
The Developing 8 are a group of developing countries with large Muslim populations that have formed an economic development alliance. It consists of Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Turkey.-History:The D-8 was founded by Necmettin Erbakan, former Turkish Prime...

, to achieve a strong economic and political unity among Muslim countries. It has eight members including Turkey, Iran, Malaysia, Indonesia, Egypt, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nigeria. These countries constitute around 14% of the world's population, with a total of more than 800 million people.

External links

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