Islam and Ethnicity in the Kurdish Political Sphere in Turkey

Hosted by the Middle East Centre

Research Centres Suite, 9th Floor, Pankhurst House, Clement's Inn, WC2A 2AZ


Dr Mehmet Kurt

Dr Mehmet Kurt

LSE and Yale University


Robert Lowe

Robert Lowe

LSE Middle East Centre

mehmet kurt event 800-600

Islam has returned to the Turkish and Kurdish public and political spheres, becoming an effective means to mobilise voters and recruit supporters during the AKP era.

In this talk, Mehmet Kurt highlights two distinctive approaches to the Kurdish issue adopted by Kurdish Hizbullah (Huda-Par) and the wider Kurdish movement. While the former relies on an explicitly Islamist political agenda to subsume Kurdish society into part of a pan-Islamist entity, the latter pursues a secular but increasingly pluralist agenda to expand its base among religious Kurds.

This in turn determines both groups’ connection to Kurdish political identity. While Hizbullah embraces a form of ‘Kurdishness’ that mainly makes reference to Islam, the wider Kurdish movement incorporates Islam into its pluralist notion of ‘the people of Turkey’. 

Dr Mehmet Kurt is a Marie Curie Global Fellow at the London School of Economics and Yale University. His research lies at the intersection of political science, sociology, and political ethnography with a specific focus on political Islam and civil society in Kurdish Turkey and among the Turkish diaspora in Europe.

Robert Lowe is Deputy Director of the Middle East Centre. He joined the Centre when it opened in 2010. Robert is responsible for running the Centre's operations, research activities, fundraising and development.

This event is part of the Kurdish Studies Series at the LSE Middle East Centre. Convened by Zeynep Kaya and Robert Lowe, the series will encourage dissemination and discussion of new research on Kurdish politics and society and provide a network for scholars and students with shared research interests. Public lectures and research seminars will be held regularly during term-time. If you wish to join the mailing list for the series, please contact Robert Lowe:

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Image: 2016, Diyarbakır. The Blessed Birth of Muhammed celebration (Kutlu Doğum) organized by the Hizbullah affiliated organizations each year in April in Diyarbakır.  Image courtesy of Mehmet Kurt


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