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”.