If you have read my article A guide to Turkey and it’s people: The story of Ataturk you’ll already be very much familiar of Ataturk, the first president of Turkey’s reforms to the country and how he set to change Turkey to a more modernise european state. Well this caused quite a stir to Islamic countries who feel Islamic religion is not seen to be old-fashioned but that Islam is the true belief and that in the future it will be the one religion. In their eyes islam should permeate every part of the culture and country if it is a true islamic country.
Ataturk’s changes to policy were offensive to many who felt he was taking away Turkey muslim identity. Religious attire was abolished, religious intervention in government and education was banned, and many concepts that were very much connected to their god and and the religious book were changed.
God was named ‘Tanri’ instead of the term used by the Quran and the rest of the islamic world ‘Allah’. This was in order to give a term that people could use if they weren’t muslim, as Ataturk’s belief was that people should have freedom of religious choice and that language should reflect this.
Turkish language was transformed into european roman letters instead of traditional arabic script, to make turkey more europeanised. Ataturk learnt alot from overseas and tried to implement it in Turkey to make life better for its citizens.
This was not to be taken well by other islamic countries, or by more devout religious Turkish people.
The once caliphate ottoman empire, and Turkey being the prime country of this empire, Ataturks reign ridded Turkey of its islamic caliphate roots.
A chief symbol of the Ottoman Caliphate was the “Great Banner of the Caliphs,” a large green banner embroidered with texts from the Qur’an and with the name of Allah emblazoned on it 28,000 times in golden letters. It was passed down in the Ottoman dynasty from father to son and only carried into battle if the Sultan himself or his specifically designated representative was there in person.
You will notice that the old flag was green and the new flag is red. The green flag is green as a sign of the Caliphate and Islam. The red symbolises secular religion. The red and green was used to symbolise this for religious institutions.
When the Turkish National Movement occurred a new non-islamic government was formed and the intervention of religion in the state was stripped. Caliphate was a position of islamic power in muslim countries, but the position has been stripped of authority and Kemal was against the traditions of it as:
The Khalifa has no power or position except as a nominal figurehead.
Still, the Caliphate was not abolished outright, as it still commanded a considerable degree of support from the people.
Then an event happened. Two Indian brothers distributed pamphlets calling upon the Turkish people to preserve the Ottoman Caliphate for the sake of Islam. Under Turkey’s new nationalist government, however, this was construed as foreign intervention, and any form of foreign intervention was labeled an insult to Turkish sovereignty, and worse, a threat to State security.
The National Assembly abolished the Caliphate on March 3, 1924. Abdülmecid was sent into exile along with the remaining members of the Ottoman House, marking the official end of the Ottoman Caliphate.
Now it doesn’t take a genius to figure out why Turkey has been insulted and seen to be against true Islam by Islamic states.
Whilst turkish people originate from the Islamic Ottoman Empire, and therefore are muslim culturally, they also have a massive amount of respect and support for the ideas Ataturk had, to modernise and europeanise turkey to move forward. Every turkish person is muslim, this is undoubtable as their faith still exists in their hearts and their cultural relics, monuments and conventions, and yet they are not part of the shia islamic faith all other islamic countries are.
I was once deeply offended being half turkish myself by a pakistani man who said to me that turkey was ‘The bastard of the muslim religion’. I was taken back by such an insult and may have said you f***ing *d***head and stormed off, but then later realised this is not one mans view, this is a view of all his countries people.
Turkey has been shunned by the islamic world, told it is not islamic enough. The more religious turkish citizens cry out in despair over the secularist country it has become.
Politics in Turkey is much like that of the way Turkey feel amongst the islamic world and europe, completely divided politically as strict islamists and secular turks battle between which government should take the reigns knowing it may influence religious factors in society.
It’s sad that neither europe deems them european enough (e.g. the inability to get into the EU) and yet Asian Middle Eastern islamic countries have shunned them too. Turkish people are wonderful and what makes them unique is that they are fixed in between these two very different cultures, some might say they have found a balance so sought in other countries.
They don’t pull there tops off on public TV and do promiscuous things live that teach people that binge drinking and acting like a whore is okay. Non religious england is sometimes seemingly void of virtue, pride and respect something that may be connected to the loss of faith and morality and yet religious countries go the other way, they force their women to be hidden beneath clothing and repress their identities. If thats not turkey at a balance I don’t know what is.
More on the current state of Kemalism and Islam in Turkey now:
Anti- Kemalist Blog Spots:
The Comment section of this website is really interesting at seeing the debate on this topic: Top 10 Profile: Kemal Ataturk