Divine Warning or Prelude to Secularization? Religion, Politics, and the Covid-19 Pandemic in Turkey

Ates Altinordu, Sabanci University

Religion was a major pillar in the government’s pandemic management and featured centrally in a string of public controversies in the course of the coronavirus crisis in Turkey. This article analyzes the role of Islam in the political and social responses to the COVID-19 pandemic in Turkey, with a focus on four dimensions: (1) religion as a tool of governance, (2) the regulation of collective religious practices, (3) religious interpretations of the pandemic, and (4) predictions about the future impact of the coronavirus crisis on religion. Based on this analysis, the study concludes that the salience and political function of religion in the course of pandemics are contingent upon the place of religious mobilization in the political repertoire of the ruling party and the balance of power between the government and the religious field, respectively. The government's extensive instrumentalization of religion in pandemic management, on the other hand, is likely to give rise to a political backlash against organized religion

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 238. Performing Religious Nationalism