Review: Erdogan’s grip on the Balkans

Hannah Lucinda Smith looks at an analysis of Turkey’s religious reach

The World Today Updated 12 April 2022 Published 2 April 2021 3 minute READ

Hannah Lucinda Smith

The Times correspondent in Turkey, and author of 'Erdogan Rising: The Battle for the Soul of Turkey'

Religion, Identity and Power
Ahmet Erdi Ozturk, Edinburgh University Press, £75.00

The appeal of Tayyip Erdogan can be hard to fathom if you have never seen him perform live. In May 2018, Bosnians were treated to the full spectacle as the Turkish president delivered a rally in Sarajevo: his outsized motorcade trailing through the city’s quaint streets accompanied by black-suited protection officers, and his acerbic rhetoric from the stage as he promised to protect Europe’s Muslims from the continent’s ingrained Islamophobia.

‘I came because I wanted to see how the Turks love their president,’ one young woman in the crowd told me. ‘Bosnia doesn’t have anyone like him.’

Ahmet Erdi Ozturk, a Turkish academic based in Britain, heard the same thing countless times as he travelled around the region between 2015 and 2018. 

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