For centuries, Islam and the West have been competing to define Turkish identity. Decades of close cooperation between Turkey and its NATO allies generated Western confidence that Turkey was a reliable ally and that its democratic system was sufficiently resilient to weather periodic political crises. But in recent years, those who have sought to soften the boundary between Islam and public life have become more organized and influential in Turkish politics.
In Torn Country, Zeyno Baran examines the intense struggle between Turkey's secularists and Islamists in their most recent battles over their country's destination. Looking into the fate of both Turkey's secularism and its democratic experiment, she shows that, for all the flaws of its political journey, the modern Turkish state has managed to maintain an essential separation between religion and the political realm—a separation that is now in jeopardy.