Author Archives: Mustafa Gurbuz

Fuat Avni: The Reason Erdogan Bans Twitter?

Having more than 12 million users, Turkey was one of the leading countries in the world connected to Twitter. No more.


Perceiving Twitter as a major platform for protesting his regime, Turkish premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan ordered the blocking of the site. “Twitter schmitter,” said Erdogan, “we will wipe out all of these. The international community can say this, can say that. I don’t care at all.”

Twitter users in Turkey have divergent styles. Some will generally share news stories, others prefer direct interactive engagement with others. Few, however, use Twitter as a venue to publish their ideas. Instead of interacting, they primarily focus on sharing their story in a series of tweets, often numbered consecutively. Fuat Avni is one of them. Using a pseudonym, Fuat Avni stands out with an important feature that makes him unique: targeting Erdogan by revealing his everyday interactions. Continue reading

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Don’t Touch My Web!

The street protests in Istanbul has forcefully revived in the past few weeks, reminiscent of the Gezi protests in Summer 2013. On Sunday, protesters in Taksim Square was shouting in tandem: “Do not touch my Internet!”


The recent political crisis that began after a major graft probe in Turkey has now a new arena of contestation: Web activism. The ruling AKP government has increasingly been freaky about circulation of news about the corruption. Here is the first few sentences of a recent New York Times article on the issue:

Shortly after an audio recording in which Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is said to be heard talking about easing zoning laws for a construction tycoon in exchange for two villas for his family, SoundCloud, the file-sharing site where it was leaked last month, was suddenly unavailable to Internet users in Turkey.

Other recordings, also apparently from wiretaps connected with a corruption inquiry linked to Mr. Erdogan and those close to him, have shown up on YouTube, Vimeo, Twitter and other social media sites. Often, just as quickly as they appear, they disappear, only to show up soon after somewhere else on the Internet, like a game of Whac-a-Mole. Continue reading

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What is Happening in Turkey: New Episodes of Contention

imagesAfter two weeks of contentious politics, streets have started to return to normal in Turkey. Although the activists did not leave Gezi Park yet, current political atmosphere has already changed: massive confrontational rallies now harbor traditional battle-grounds instead of the sentiments that gave rise to the Occupy Gezi. The Occupy Gezi was an expression of a mass frustration by a wide-range coalition against aggressive neo-liberal regime that has been symbolized in urban renewal projects and PM Erdogan’s iron fist. The current organized rallies in the last two days, however, push people to be polarized as pro-AKP or anti-AKP. This is the new phase in contentious episodes, and arguably, a detrimental blow to the spirit of the Occupy Gezi. Continue reading


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Piety and Radicalization: Is There a Link?

After the unfortunate bombings in Boston, the media accounts often highlight increasing religiosity of the terrorists before their attacks. Here is a quote from NY Times, investigating Tamerlan’s path to radicalization:

He flew in to the airport here in Makhachkala, where the plate-glass windows of the arrival hall frame a mosque with twin minarets stretching skyward. He had already given up drinking alcohol, grown a close beard and become more devout, praying five times a day. (full story)

Similar descriptions could be found in many other outlets in these days. Does personal piety correlate with radical views? Continue reading


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New Volume on Nonviolent Resistance

Devoted to nonviolent conflict and civil resistance, the new issue of Research in Social Movements, Conflict, and Change is available now. The volume provides a wide range of case studies around the world including Northern Ireland, Turkey, Iran, Post-Communist States, and Palestine. The articles are also engaging with new conceptual paradigms. In our article, Thou Shall Not Protest!, Mary Bernstein and I utilized Multi-Institutional Perspective approach to explain non-confrontational strategies of some Islamic activists. The issue editors, Sharon Nepstad and Lester Kurtz, introduced Thou Shall Not Protest! as the following:

Another chapter in this volume addresses Sharp’s singular focus on the state and political power. Mustafa Gurbuz and Mary Bernstein examine two Islamic movements in Turkey that responded differently to a conflict over a politician’s decision to wear a headscarf in parliament. The National Outlook movement mobilized demonstrations while the Gulen movement did not. Gurbuz and Bernstein argue that the latter group’s decision was rooted in their belief that power is dispersed throughout civil society and therefore the state should not be the sole target for resistance activities. Instead of directly confronting political authorities, Gulen organizers chose “strategic nonconfrontation” so that they could pursue their goals through other avenues such as contesting everyday cultural practices. Thus, the authors reveal how new forms of nonviolent resistance become evident when we expand our view beyond the state and challenges to political authorities.

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Amnesty USA, Veil, and Occupation

You have probably heard of Amnesty International USA’s pro-occupation ads, declaring “NATO: Keep the Progress Going!”, which shocked many anti-war activist organizations.

In a recent essay, Ashley Smith comments on the issue in detail and quotes from feminist activists Sonali Kolhatkar and Mariam Rawi:

Under the Taliban, women were confined to their homes. They were not allowed to work or attend school. They were poor and without rights. They had no access to clean water or medical care, and they were forced into marriages, often as children. Today, women in the vast majority of Afghanistan live in precisely the same conditions, with one notable difference: they are surrounded by war. (see their full article)

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On Tribalism-Radicalism Nexus

Citizenship Initiative, led by David Jacobson and his colleagues at the University of South Florida, offers global Tribalism Index- a quantitative measure of tribal culture that can gauge degree of tribalism-  to study development of radical movements and terrorist networks around the world. Their database will be ready for public soon.

In their recent article in New Global Studies, Jacobson and Deckard utilize this new Index and come to interesting conclusions such as the following:

Regression models that include both Muslim population percentage and level of tribalism demonstrate that, in the absence of a clear tribal culture, adherence to Islam does not make for susceptibility to extremism. Furthermore, these models show that it is within tribal environments that Islamist movements are best nurtured. The Tribalism Index proves of greater utility than the Failed States Index for eliciting the dynamics of violence in tribal societies, while illuminating the inaccuracy of seeing militancy as a function of Islam as such. Continue reading


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Morsi and the Military- Let’s Conceptualize!

A couple days ago (June 24 2012), after 84 years of mobilization, protests, and struggle, the Muslim Brothers have opened a new page in Egypt’s history.

In his book Revolutions and Revolutionary Movements, James DeFronzo tells us stories of revolutionaries who succeeded to grab the power. According to DeFronzo, from the Russian revolution to the Iranian revolution, we see a similar trend: the regime was collapsed by joint social forces (including a variety of groups that are even at conflict one another), and soon after the breakdown, the radicals eliminate their rivals and get the control.

Now, what is your take? Is it the story of current Egypt?

Here is my two cents: Continue reading


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Civilian Deaths and Radicalism

As we are involved in a heated debate about Obama’s kill list and controversial drone attacks in Pakistan, it is timely to ask whether American public sufficiently comprehends seriousness of the issue of civilian deaths, which poses a great danger in fighting against terrorist networks and radical movements. In his new book, The Deaths of Others: The Fate of Civilians in America’s Wars (Oxford University Press, 2011), John Tirman presents a compelling argument to explain why a culture of public “indifference” still dominates.

According to Tirman, there are three major reasons behind this lack of public attention: racism (i.e. Americans’ lives are more important than some other people’s lives), frontier myth (i.e. a strong belief in USA’s mission in world politics), and psychological aversion (i.e. just too much burden for someone to think about these disturbing issues). Examining Korean War, Vietnam War, and recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Tirman also indicates how American public were made in dark, and thus, were deceived about number of civilian deaths. At the outset of the Iraqi war,  only 73 of 18000 news stories on the major networks mentioned Iraqi casualties. By 2008, during the time American public supported to pull out of the country, any coverage of the Iraq war went down to 3 per cent Continue reading


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Terrorism and Collective Behavior

Two recent books are quite valuable in thinking about the relationship between terrorism and Islamic mobilization. Collecting the largest data on suicide terrorism around the globe (database available in the Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism website), Robert Pape and James Feldman make a compelling argument to demonstrate strong impact of foreign occupation on suicide terrorism.

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