Security, Secularism and Gender: The Turkish Military’s Security Discourse in Relation to Political Islam


Arik, Hulya. 2016. “Security, Secularism and Gender: The Turkish Military’s Security Discourse in Relation to Political Islam.” Gender, Place & Culture 23 (5): 641–58. doi:10.1080/0966369X.2015.1034242.


Author: Hulya Arik


This article examines the sexual and corporeal constructions of risk within the security discourses of the Turkish military in response to the rise of political Islam and Islamist identities in Turkey. I look at the Turkish military as the self-proclaimed guardian of the secular Republic, which, until recently, has actively configured political Islam as a risk to national security and ingrained such risk onto the body of the headscarved woman. My analysis covers a time frame from 1980s to late 2000s when the military issued memorandums and public statements against the rise of political Islam and pursued a belligerent campaign to erase ‘Islamist’ identities both from civilian politics and its own structure. The military implemented security regulations and dress codes to detect the ‘Islamist’ military personnel who are most conspicuously identified with the dress style of the women in their families. I explore these security regulations through women’s everyday and personal experiences in relation to their dress, headscarf style and comportment in military spaces and try to understand how ‘Islamism’ is constructed as a security threat in sexually and corporeally specific ways. I demonstrate how secularism is constructed, and needs to be protected, on the basis of a particular regime of gender and sexuality at the merger of traditional gender norms and secular Western modernity.

Keywords: risk, headscarf, secularism, Turkish military, political islam, security

Topics: Gender, Women, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Religion, Security, Sexuality Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East, Europe, Southern Europe Countries: Turkey

Year: 2016

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