Resistance to modernization

The modernization movements were coercive, were therefore widely perceived as repressive, and thus elicited resistance from the outset. The ensuing cycle of resistance and oppression might vary in vehemence and duration – from a few years to several decades, as the case of Turkey demonstrates. This resistance might also come from many different sources. In addition to political disputes, economic and cultural ones abounded. Some led to heated conflicts pitching Greeks against Turks, Turks against Armenians (137), or Turks, Arabs, and Kurds against each other (136). The protest might also primarily target what was perceived as serious disregard for social issues – the common argument of leftist political parties and trade unions in the region (138).

While the political arena was long controlled entirely by modernists and communists, the proclamation of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979 (140-141) gave a new impetus to a religiously inspired opposition movement in large parts of the Islamic world, including Turkey (143). Manifestations of this trend have appeared in the Central Asian former Soviet republics (139). The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood was the most important pioneer (142) in this broad range of movements invoking tradition to turn against existing regimes perceived as corrupt – sometimes focusing largely on politics and at other times dealing mainly with social affairs, in some cases peacefully and in others resorting to violence. Their stand on modernization is ambivalent or in any case difficult to capture in conventional analytical frames of reference. Although many have revivalist features, some groups have created new rallying points, such as in the Rushdie affair and the 9/11 attacks. Traces are visible in the Netherlands as well (144). The IISH has taken a strong interest in these movements.