Kemalism: 1881 - 2007, RIP

NY Times, July 20, 2007

... An ad last week ... showed a black ballot box and a woman’s eyes behind the rectangular cut-out, evoking a facial veil. “Are you aware of the danger?” it said. Before the ill-fated presidential election this spring, a television ad flashed the years 1881 and 2007 on a black screen - the year of Ataturk’s birth and the year his secular reforms died ...

For 84 years, modern Turkey has been defined by a holy trinity — the army, the republic and its founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Each was linked inextricably to the others and all were beyond reproach.

But a deep transformation is under way in this nation of 73 million, and elections this Sunday may prove a watershed: liberal Turks, once supporters of the ruling secular elite and its main backer, the military, are turning their backs on them and pledging votes to religious politicians as well as a new array of independents.

They say that the rigid rules of the last century, which prohibit women from wearing Muslim head scarves in public buildings and forbid ethnic minorities to express their identities, need to be left behind ...

He and others say the rules served a purpose when Turkey was forging a national identity out of the remains of the Ottoman Empire. But now Turkey has outgrown them.

“In 50 years, people will write that this was the time Turkey started to come to terms with its own people," ...

From its beginnings in the 1940s, a powerful chain of bureaucrats, judges and army generals from the secular upper classes has controlled the most important Turkish affairs ...

But Turkish society has significantly changed in recent decades, with religious Turks gaining wealth and status and moving into public view. Women in head scarves — precisely those whom early Turkish legislation singled out — are in shopping malls, on motor scooters and behind the wheels of cars, and rules against them seem woefully outdated ...

“This narrow shirt of secularism has become a little too tight and choking for Turkish society,” ...

He is referring to Kemalism, the fiercely secular ideology that sought to extinguish religious networks and ultimately religion itself from society.

The state elite “wanted society to fit their theory,” ... “If religion doesn’t disappear, we’ll make it disappear because our theory says so.”

The portion of Turkish society hanging onto the old order is shrinking ... so when more than a million Turks gathered this spring to protest what they said was creeping Islamism, bizarre combinations were on display. People wore masks of Ataturk, who died more than 60 years ago. The music that played was from 1930s. “They have calcified,” said Baskin Oran, an opinionated professor running as an independent candidate in Istanbul.

More: NY Times, Winds of Jihad, Fitzgerald Reply

Bored liberals and frustrated Islamists, a temporary partnership. Look at the language: smug liberal finger-wagging, "tuh tuh", "come come", language. Anti-military, anti-interventionist, pro-multiculti, pro-diversity. Those who resist them are "shrinking, old order, calcified, bizarre combinations". Suicidal liberals masquerading as intellectuals - they are the ones wearing the masks. Same as the West.

4 comments:

Michelle said...

It's rather ironic that, just as Turkey sinks back under the thumb of Islam, we have an intellectual here in Australia (Liza Hopkins) using Australian-Turkish-Muslims as an example of that rare breed "whose Muslim identity is subordinate to national, cultural and ethnic affiliations".

http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=6135

That may be true now, but Turkey shows that time and demographics reveal moderate Muslims as trojans for the radicals that follow. The fact that some moderate Muslims are ignorant of this is little consolation when you've lost your country and Islam is rooted in your schools, bureaucracy, government, and military.

michelle said...

link to Liza Hopkins article

Abandon Skip said...

Thanks Michelle, well spotted. Not only is Turkey a bad example, but Germany has 6.7 million Turkish immigrants - who were recently boycotting an integration summit because of tougher immigration laws. So much for being "subordinate to the nation".

She may be right that aussie Muslim Turks haven't been a problem here yet, but her article is nonetheless short sighted and myopic.

Abandon Skip said...

Correction: there are 2.5 million Turks in Germany.