13 Pages

Anat Lapidot

In the 1980s, the Iranian revolution, the spread of Islam within Turkish communities abroad and within Turkey itself, the relatively open, government-encouraged public debate on Islamic issues, as well as numerous other indications that Islamic activity had spread into a broad range of areas, all inspired the interest of researchers, academics and others

in the role of Islam in Turkey. This interest increased further after June 1985 when Turks were shocked to discover that a group of army officers, calling themselves 'the Patriotic Officers', had circulated a memorandum arguing that Turkey protected the interests of the US rather than those of Islam, and that like Israel, Turkey had become a front-line state against the Islamic nation.2 In mid-1985, prayer rooms were built inside government ministries and the parliament. In 1985, the study of Arabic as a foreign language was introduced into Turkey's high school curriculum3 and in January 1988 the government introduced a law proscribing the defamation of Muhammad, Allah and the religion of Islam.