Mustafa Akyol

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Mustafa Akyol
Mustafa Akyol.jpeg
Akyol in 2013
Born1972 (age 46–47)
OccupationWriter, journalist

Mustafa Akyol (born 1972) is a Turkish writer and journalist. He is the author of Islam without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty, long-listed in 2012 for the Lionel Gelber Prize, a literary award for the world's best non-fiction book in English. He became a contributing opinion writer for the International New York Times in 2013.

Early life and education[edit]

Akyol was born to liberal journalist Taha Akyol and received his early education in Ankara.[1] He later graduated from the Istanbul Nişantaşı Anadolu Lisesi and the International Relations Department of Boğaziçi University. He earned his masters in the History Department of the same university with a thesis on Turkey's Kurdish question, which he later extended to a popular book titled Kürt Sorununu Yeniden Düşünmek: Yanlış Giden Neydi, Bundan Sonra Nereye? (Rethinking the Kurdish Issue: What Went Wrong, What Next?)


Akyol writes regular columns for two Turkish dailies, Star and Hürriyet Daily News.[2] He has criticized both Islamic extremism and Turkish secularism, which he likens to Jacobinism[3] and fundamentalism.[4] His articles are often friendly to the incumbent Justice and Development Party.[5][6]

Over the years, he has given seminars in several universities or think-tanks in the U.S. and the U.K. on issues of Islam, politics, and Turkish affairs. He also spoke at TED, giving a lecture on Faith versus Tradition in Islam.

Mustafa Akyol's articles on Islamic issues, in which he mostly argues against Islamic extremism and terrorism from a Muslim point of view and defends the Islamic faith, have appeared in publications like Foreign Affairs, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, The Forward, First Things, Huffington Post, The Weekly Standard, The Washington Times, The American Enterprise, National Review, FrontPage Magazine,[7] Newsweek[8] and Islam Online.[9]

Akyol is also author of the English-language book Islam Without Extremes: A Muslim Case For Liberty (W.W. Norton). This, according to the publisher, is "a desperately needed intellectual basis for the reconcilability of Islam and religious, political, economic, and social freedoms." Schwartz critiques the author’s lack of full disclosure regarding his own family’s Turkish history and involvement in politics. He also faults the author for not carefully laying out the facts surrounding Turkish democracy and rushing to conclusions about the country’s AKP political party that are not fully supported by the evidence.[10][11]

From 2017 to 2018, he was a senior visiting fellow at Wellesley College, and since 2018 has been senior fellow at the Cato Institute.[12]

Intelligent design advocacy[edit]

Akyol used to be an outspoken promoter of intelligent design[9] and was identified as a former spokesman for Science Research Foundation (Bilim Araştırma Vakfı), an Islamic creationist group, started by Adnan Oktar.[13] But Akyol later noted[14] that he had ended all his "cooperation with [Bilim Araştırma Vakfı]... due to some serious disagreements on issues other than intelligent design." He was also affiliated with the Discovery Institute.[15] He has testified in the Kansas evolution hearings in favor of introducing Intelligent Design[16] and arranged a government-sponsored Intelligent Design conference in Istanbul.[17] He also used to be the director of International Relations at the "Intercultural Dialogue Platform", a subsidiary of the Journalists and Writers Foundation (Gazeteciler ve Yazarlar Vakfı), founded by sympathizers of Fethullah Gülen.[citation needed]


  • Akyol, Mustafa (2011). Islam Without Extremes (1st ed.). W.W. Norton & Company. ISBN 978-0-393-07086-6.
  • Akyol, Mustafa. Rethinking The Kurdish Question: What Went Wrong? What Next?. Dogan Publishing.


  1. ^ "Learn more about Mustafa Akyol". Retrieved 4 November 2011.
  2. ^ The Crisis in Turkey The American June 19, 2008
  3. ^ Akyol, Mustafa (2008-02-23). "The greatest Turkish story ever sold". Turkish Daily News. Retrieved 2008-07-20.
  4. ^ Akyol, Mustafa (2007-05-04). "The threat is secular fundamentalism". International Herald Tribune. Retrieved 2008-07-20.
  5. ^ Bekdil, Burak (2008-09-10). "Hürriyet must be banned for better democracy". Turkish Daily News. Retrieved 2008-09-23. Even in this newspaper there are several fiercely pro-AKP columnists, including my sparring partner, Mustafa Akyol.
  6. ^ Ellis, Robert (2008-03-20). "Tout va très bien, Madame la Marquise". Turkish Daily News. Retrieved 2008-09-23. Mustafa Akyol has left no stone unturned in his efforts to convince the readers of the Turkish Daily News of the benefits of the Islamic revival which has taken place since the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government came to power over five years ago.
  7. ^ Spencer, Robert (11 October 2004). "Terror's Islamic Roots". FrontPage Magazine. Retrieved 20 July 2008.
  8. ^ "The Plot Against Turkey", Newsweek, 12 July 2008.
  9. ^ a b Akyol, Mustafa (14 September 2004) Why Muslims Should Support Intelligent Design, Islam Online. Retrieved on 2008-07-18.
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Mustafa Akyol". Retrieved May 17, 2019.
  13. ^ Ortega, Tony (5 May 2005). "Your OFFICIAL program to the Scopes II Kansas Monkey Trial". The Pitch. Kansas. Archived from the original on 31 January 2013. He also has identified himself as a spokesman for the murky Bilim Arastirma Vakfi, a group with an innocuous-sounding name -- it means "Science Research Foundation" -- but a nasty reputation.
  14. ^ "Hang Time | Letters". The Pitch. Archived from the original on 6 September 2012. Retrieved 2011-11-04.
  15. ^ Akyol, Mustafa. "Intelligent Design (and Me) in The Economist".
  16. ^ "Kansas Evolution Hearings: Warren Nord and Mustafa Akyol".
  17. ^ Akyol, Mustafa. "Turkey's First ID Conference—Accomplished". The conference was sponsored by the Cultural Affairs Bureau of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, which is headed Kadir Topbaş, a member of the incumbent conservative AK Party. (Hence it can be said that the event had official support.)

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