Ülkücü Movement (“Grey Wolves”)
The Ülkücü movement is a right-wing nationalist and pan-Turkist movement in Turkey and Europe. It was founded in the late 1960s by Alparslan Türkeş and is closely associated with the Nationalist Movement Party (Turkish: Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi, MHP) that forms a coalition with The Turkish Justice and Development Party (Turkish: Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi; AKP) since 2018. The movement’s symbol is the wolf, and its members are commonly referred to as “Grey Wolves.” The Ülkücü movement aims to unite all Turkic peoples under a single state called Turan, within the former borders of the Ottoman Empire. This goal is rooted in an inflated sense of national consciousness that regards the Turkish nation as superior both in terms of politics and culture.
The militant arm of the Ülkücü movement has been involved in political violence in Turkey since the 1970s. The Grey Wolves have been linked to a number of terrorist attacks, including the 1978 Maraş massacre, which killed more than 100 people, and the assassination attempt of Pope John Paul II in 1981. The Grey Wolves were also implicated in the assassination of the Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in 2007.
The Ülkücü movement has several branches in Europe, with the Federation of Turkish Democratic Idealist Associations in Germany (Turkish: Almanya Demokratik Ülkücü Türk Dernekleri Federasyonu, ADÜTDF) being one of the most significant. According to the German Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, ADÜTDF has approximately 7,000 members and espouses an extreme nationalist or right-wing extremist ideology. Another group affiliated with the Ülkücü movement is the Union of Turkish-Islamic Cultural Associations in Europe (Turkish: Avrupa Türk-İslam Birliği, ATIB), which represents the more Islamic-oriented faction of the nationalist movement. ATIB is the largest member association of the German Central Council of Muslims, which cooperates with the German government regularly. France prohibited the Grey Wolves after an incident in 2016, when “about 15 militants from this group, armed with sticks, iron bars, knives and a revolver, and their faces masked by red and white scarves in the colours of the Turkish flag, attacked a stand run by demonstrators of Kurdish origin”.