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June 9th, 2008
The Growth of Business and the Rise of Conservative Islam in Turkey

Prep for Teachers

Prior to the teaching, bookmark all of the Web sites used in the lesson. Make sure that your computer has the necessary media players to play the video and audio clips, such as Real Player.

When using media, provide students with a Focus for Media Interaction: a specific task to complete and/or information to identify during or after viewing of video segments, Web sites, or other multimedia elements.

Introductory Activity: Understanding the Basics of Islam

Step 1: Understanding Turkey

Explain to your students that they will be examining issues related to Turkey, its economy, and its religion. Before doing that, though, they must learn about the history and background of Turkey as well as the basic beliefs of Islam. Instruct students to go to the Web sites CIA World Factbook — Turkey, and BBC Country Profile — Turkey, Provide students with a Focus for Media Interaction, instructing them to read the information on the pages and record facts about the country on their Student Response Sheets. They are to focus on Turkey’s location, history, leaders, military, and economy. After students have recorded the information, check for comprehension by discussing it.

Step 2: Understanding the Basics of Islam

Explain to your students that in order to examine the experiences of Muslim men and women in Turkey, they must have a basic understanding of fundamental beliefs and practices of Islam. Instruct students to go to the Web sites Islam: Customs,, Islam: Beliefs,, and Islam: Worship, Provide students with a Focus for Media Interaction, instructing them to read the information on the page and record the answers to the questions on their Student Response Sheets. They are to record information about the Five Pillars of Islam, the six Articles of Faith, Allah, worship and prayer, and ritual washing. Check for comprehension by discussing the questions and the answers to those questions. How is Islam similar to other religions they have learned about? How is it different?

Learning Activities: Turkey, the Economy, and Islam

Step 1: Turkey’s Tigers

Explain to your students that they will be taking a closer look at Turkey’s economy and religion. To do so, they will view “Turkey’s Tigers” from WIDE ANGLE. This film can be viewed online at in four segments. Depending on class time available, you can choose to have your students view all four segments; if your class time is more limited, you can choose to have them view one or two. For each of these pieces, provide the students with a Focus for Media Interaction, instructing them to answer the questions on their Student Response Sheet. The questions they will answer include:

Part 1: Faith and Prosperity in Turkey

  • What are the characteristics of the “new face” of Islam?
  • Describe the relationship between Mustafah and Sophia Karaduman. What is the role of the husband? What is the role of the wife?
  • What kind of clothing does Karaduman design and produce? Why does he do this? What does he feel about the connection between his religion and his business? Where does he get the inspiration for his clothing?
  • Who shops at Tekbir? As Karaduman looks to expand his business, where is he hoping to open more stores?
  • What was Ayodin’s motivation for stating Ipekyol? Where does he get his inspiration for the fashions he creates? How does he feel about the West? How large is his company?
  • How are Tekbir and Ipekyol similar? How are they different?

Part 2: Anatolian Tigers

  • What is changing in Kayseri? Why are the businessmen called “Anatolian Tigers”?
  • Where are Celal Hasnaka�i’s jeans meant to be sold? What is his opinion about religion, values, and choices?
  • Describe Friday prayer in Kayseri. Who attends? Who financed the mosque?
  • According to Ahmet Hasy?nc?, how has Kayseri changed in the past several years?
  • How does the mayor, Mehmet �zhaseki, characterize the people of Kayseri?
  • What is the AK party? What do they see as their accomplishments? What do they believe?
  • Describe the business community in Kayseri. How do they maintain this community?
  • What does Erdogan Aslan see as the role of women in Kayseri’s business community? What does he think is important? Why is his wife unusual?

Part 3: The Rise of Conservative Islam

  • In the Turkish news media, what are the different points of view about the AK party and the rise of conservative Islam?
  • Who is the foreign minister? Where is he from? What does he believe?
  • How has modernization affected Muslim women and their role in society?
  • How does Elif Ozhaski feel about women working? What is her occupation? Why doesn’t her mother work? What does she think about this? Describe her wedding. How is it modern? How is it traditional?

Part 4: Faith, Fashion, and the Future

  • At the Tekbir collection fashion show, what things are the organizers concerned about? Describe the Tekbir collection. What is the goal of the new line?
  • Describe the work the Tugba Ozay normally does. Is it conservative or modern? Why do you think she was a part of the Tekbir fashion show? Why would the Tekbir executives want her to represent their company? How do you think they feel about her other work?
  • Why does the state keep control over the mosques? How do different people feel about that?
  • Describe, in more detail, the home of the Karadumans. What are their beliefs?
  • Describe the Ayayden home. What are their beliefs? How is it different from the Karaduman home?

After students have viewed the segments, check for comprehension by discussing the questions. Why are the Anatolian Tigers gaining attention?

Step 2: Examining Issues of Economy and Religion More Closely

Explain to students that, now that they have some understanding of the differing viewpoints in Turkey about business and the role of religion and women, they will look more closely at those issues. Direct students to read the article “Bordering on What?” on the WIDE ANGLE — Turkey’s Tigers Web site, Provide students with a Focus for Media Interaction, instructing them to answer the questions on their Student Response Sheets. Students will respond to the following questions:

  • How have Turkey’s cities, such as Bursa, changed recently?
  • From 1923 until the end of the Cold War, what was Turkey’s view of Europe?
  • How does the author link changes in Turkey, the country’s masses, and Islam?
  • What is the European Union’s rationale for welcoming Turkey into its councils and economic sphere?
  • What does Erdogan believe? Why does this concern some people?

After students have read the article, check for comprehension by discussing these questions. What connection do they see between the information in the article and what they viewed in the film?

Have students continue their exploration of Turkey’s economic and religions conflicts, and the country’s desire to join the EU, by reading “Looking to Europe” from THE ECONOMIST Web site, (If time permits, you can also have students listen to an interview with the author of the article, where he elaborates on this content, at Students will respond to the following questions:

  • What are the causes of the changes in Turkey?
  • What effect has the rise of fundamentalist Islam had?
  • What does membership in the European Union mean for Turkey?

If your students have no background information about the European Union, take some time to go over the basics of the EU. At the European Union Web site there is an overview called “European Union in 12 Lessons,”

After students have reviewed all of the pieces, have a class discussion about the articles and the film to help them process the information they learned. What are the various prevailing viewpoints, relating to both economy and religion, in Turkey? What are the main issues in Turkey’s “identity crisis,” and what were some of the examples from the film that exemplify these issues? Do you think there can be a balance between modern society and religious observance, such as the practices of conservative Islam? What do you think will happen in the next year in Turkey? In the next five years? In the next 10 years?

Culminating Activity

As a way to have students synthesize the information they have gathered, put them in the role of a reporter for a major newspaper, such as THE NEW YORK TIMES. Explain to students that the newspaper is planning on publishing a special section or supplement about Turkey and its economy. As reporters, they are charged with the task of writing a series of articles on the following topics about Turkey:

  • the country’s history
  • Islam, and the rise of conservative Islam
  • the economy, focusing on the role that the Anatolian Tigers play in its growth
  • how companies, such as Tekbir, combine their religious beliefs and business dealings to run successful companies
  • Turkey’s goal of joining the European Union (additional information can also be found on WIDE ANGLE’s “Turkey’s Tigers” site)
  • a political cartoon, focusing on the growth of the economy in Turkey
  • if possible, as an additional topic for an article, interview Turkish immigrants for a piece about their country, or interview local businesspeople to write about what it takes to build and maintain a successful business

After students have written and done the layout for their supplements, have them share their work with the class.

If time is a factor, another option is to divide the students into small groups. Each student is responsible for writing one article, and they then work together to put it together as a supplement.

Cross Curricular Connection

World Cultures/Social Studies
Have students research other secular countries that separate church and state, such as France. Have them compare what they learn about these countries to what they have learned about Turkey, and also to what they know about religion and government in the United States.

Divide students into groups and have them research and learn more about various areas of Turkish culture, including architecture, music, fine arts, and literature. The Turkish Culture Foundation is a great starting point, at Have each group present what they learned to the class.

Community Connections

  • If possible, have your students meet with Turkish immigrants in your community to learn about their native country.
  • Invite local business leaders to speak to your class about what it takes to start, run, and grow a successful business.

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