On the morning of November 4, 2002, Turkey woke up to a major upheaval in its political system. The Justice and Development Party (AKP), a new spin-off from the flag-bearer movement of political Islam in Turkey, unexpectedly won the majority power in the national parliament, and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, AKP’s head, rose to prime minister.

Immediately following the 2002 elections, the stars seemed to align for Turkish civil society. AKP adopted a democratic agenda during its early years in...

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