Former Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan, a groundbreaking statesman whose political career cut short by a coup, was remembered on the eighth anniversary of his death. His supporters visited his grave in Istanbul while politicians issued messages in remembrance.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who started off his own political career in Erbakan’s Welfare Party (RP), issued a message yesterday on the occasion. “I remember Necmettin Erbakan hoca, a distinguished name in Turkish political history, a great man of cause, with respect and blessing on the eighth anniversary of his death,” Erdoğan said in his message. Erbakan was nicknamed “hoca” or teacher, which both refers to his academic career as a professor and used as a way to describe scholars in Islamic terminology.
Erbakan, a mechanical engineer by profession who made his first foray into politics in 1960s, became a voice for Muslims in Turkey, long before any party gave a platform for the pious in this Muslim majority country long ruled by a secular elite. It was that secular elite too that ultimately forced Erbakan to step down from his post as prime minister in 1997 in a coup. He kept a low-profile after the coup, which also led to his ban from politics for five years. He returned to the political scene and chaired the Felicity Party (SP) up until his death from natural causes in 2011 at the age of 85.