Abdullah Gül (October 29th, 1949 - ) is a Turkish politician who served as the 11th President of Turkey, in office from 2007 to 2014. He previously served for four months as Prime Minister from 2002 to 2003, and concurrently served as both Deputy Prime Minister and as Foreign Minister between 2003 and 2007. He is currently a member of the Advisory Panel for the President of the Islamic Development Bank.
Advocating staunch Islamist political views during his university years, Gül became a Member of Parliament for Kayseri in 1991 and was re-elected in 1995, 1999, 2002, and 2007. Initially a member of the Islamist Welfare Party, Gül joined the Virtue Party in 1998 after the latter was banned for anti-secular activities. When the party split into hardline Islamist and modernist factions in 2000, Gül joined fellow party member Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in advocating the need for reform and moderation. He ran against serving leader Recai Kutan for the Virtue Party leadership on behalf of Erdoğan, who was banned from holding political office at the time. As the candidate for the modernist camp, he came second with 521 votes while Kutan won 633. He co-founded the moderate Justice and Development Party (AKP) with Erdoğan in 2001 after the Virtue Party was shut down in the same year, while hardline conservative members founded the Felicity Party instead.
Gül became Prime Minister after the AKP won a landslide victory in the 2002 general election, since Erdoğan wasstill banned from office. His government had removed Erdoğan's political ban by March 2003, after which Erdoğan became an MP for Siirt in a by-election and took over as Prime Minister. Gül subsequently served as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister until 2007. His subsequent bid for the Presidency drew strong and highly vocal opposition from ardent supporters ofsecularism in Turkey and was initially blocked by the Constitutional Court due to concerns over his Islamist political background. He was eventually elected Turkey's first Islamist President after the 2007 snap general election.
As President, Gül came under criticism for giving assent to controversial laws which have been regarded bythe political opposition as unconstitutional. In June 2013, he signed a bill restricting alcohol consumption into law despite initially indicating a possible veto, which was seen as a contributing factor to sparking the 2013–14 anti-government protests. Other controversies included a law tightening internet regulation in 2013, a law increasing political control over the judiciary in 2014 and a law giving the National Intelligence Organisation (MİT) controversial new powers also in 2014. Gül took a mediating approach during anti-government protests and government corruption scandals.