As the founder of Turkey's political Islamic movement, Necmettin Erbakan, who died Feb. 27 at 84, spent his career battling secularist opposition. When Erbakan became Turkey's first Islamist Prime Minister in 1996, he called for a pan-Islamic currency and tried to ease a ban on headscarves. Months later, the country's generals issued a memo listing Erbakan's antisecularist sins. He was forced to resign in early 1997. In his twilight years, Erbakan's power faded, but his former students (namely current PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan) have built on his political formula, allowing them to hold on to power for almost a decade.
This text originally appeared in the March 14, 2011 issue of TIME magazine.