Necmettin Erbakan, former Turkish Prime Minister, Islamic thinker and founder of Turkey’s Islamist movement, breathed his last at Ankara’s Guven hospital where he was under treatment, on February 27. He was 85.
He was an engineer, academic and politician. “Erbakan was a scientist who devoted his life to learning. We will remember him with gratitude,” said Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. “We lost a world leader,” said Yasin Hatipoglu, one of his close aides. “The world of Islam lost a great man.”
In the 1970s, Erbakan was chairman of the National Salvation Party which served in coalition with the Republican People's Party of Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit during the Cyprus crisis of 1974. In the wake of the 1980 military coup, Erbakan and his party were banned from politics. He re-emerged following a referendum to lift the ban in 1987 and became the leader of Refah Partisi (Welfare Party). He led his party to a surprise success in the general elections of 1995. However his Welfare Party was banned in January 1998 and he and other party leaders were banned from holding political posts for five years.
Despite often being under political ban, Erbakan nonetheless acted as a mentor and informal advisor to former Refah members who founded the Virtue Party in 1997. The Virtue Party was band in 2001; by that time Erbakan's ban on political activities had ended and he founded the Felicity Party, of which he was the leader in 2003–2004 and again from 2010 onwards.