Why religious people support ethnic insurgency? Kurds, religion and support for the PKK
Politics and Religion
Cambridge University Press
245 - 272
Item Usage Stats
This study challenges a dominant view that religion constrains the support for an ethnic insurgency. It argues that observing the discrepancy between religious brotherhood discourses of ethnic majority state and discrimination and inter-ethnic inequality in the social, political, and economic sphere as a result of the long-standing securitization of minority rights increase skepticism toward government among religious minorities. This long-term perception makes them receptive to the messages of an insurgent group that claims to fight for cultural and political rights of an ethnic minority. Utilizing two original public opinion surveys conducted in Turkey in 2011 and 2013, before and right after the peace talks between the Turkish state and the Kurdistan Workers' Party—The Partîya Karkêren Kurdistan (PKK), this study tests its hypotheses by taking the Kurdish conflict as a case study. The findings challenge the dominant paradigm that expects a negative relationship between religiosity and rebel support. Religious Kurds do not differ from non-religious ones in support for the formerly Marxist–Leninist PKK. Second, political and economic grievances matter; the perception among Kurds, of state discrimination and inter-ethnic economic inequality generates positive attitudes toward the PKK. Finally, the perception of inter-ethnic socioeconomic inequality amplifies support for the PKK among religious Kurds.