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The rise of Islamo-Kemalism

Reader comment on item: Who Lost Turkey?
in response to reader comment: rise of fundamentalism

Submitted by Ianus (Poland), Jun 14, 2010 at 15:18

Mary Seay wrote :

"Turkey used to embody moderate Islam. However, starting in the 1980s the Wahabis started building mosques and schools in nearly every village and neighborhood."

I'd rather distrust the official Turkish narrative on what Turkey stood and didn't stand for . But you are right about what was happening in the 80-ies . These crucial developments require some broader context though .

Vagaries , perversities and betrayals of Kemal himself are an instructive and even funny story which includes such stunts as Kemal gaining the supreme Islamic title of "Ghazi" ( "Holy warrior of Allah" , "Victorious jihadist" ) for his massacres and extermination of the Christians in Asia Minor and then turning against Islam . But he had compelling reasons for curbing Islam as the death fatwa signed by the caliph and sheikh ul-Islam was on his head . He had no other choice but to attack , otherwise the caliph's curse would have crushed him .

Now his successors were and are not burdened with this singular curse . Still they ruled preserving his appearances until some deeper social and political troubles in the 70-ies and 80-ies shook Turkey in its very foundations . It was on the one hand the Kurdish movement that changed into a wide scale uprising and the rise of the Turkish left movement that soon assumed dimensions of an undeclared civil war with at times up to 10 assassinations per day , massacres , riots and brutality unheard of since the days of the civil war unleashed by the caliph against Kemal in 1919-1920 which only ended with the liquidation of the caliphate and the declartion of our notorious Turkish "secularism" as Turkey's new creed .

The political regime was very unpopular , Turkish economy was on the verge of collapse with rampart corruption and growing social inequalities . Turkey was descending into choas . To cope with the double challenge the militarists turned to the same dark forces that had supported Kemal's jihad in its early days , i.e. to the backward , Anatolian peasantry , Moslem clergy , fascist Grey Wolves . And to fight a common enemy the two parties struck an important deal . They helped the Kemalists with suppressing the leftists and vanquishing the Kurds . But the alliance of Islam with Kemalism and Kemalists' temporary victory were a costly bargain indeed . The mosques built everywhere as you rightly indicate was one thing the Moslems got . The other , more important , gain was incorporating Islam into the Turkish system of public education . And the Kemalists agreed willingly to this demand - if they didn't suggest it directly themselves - as all were of the opinion that it was unreligious education which produced a generation of rebelling Turkish socialists, communists and sympathisers for the Kurdish cause . As a matter of fact , not being brainwashed with Islam's absurdities the intellectuals who attended schools during the era of Islam-free education were looking critically at the world around them and instead of political credulity and passivity and obedience as taught by Islam they displayed activism and lack of opportunism that frightened both the Kemalists and their new Islamic friends .

We have to remember that in 1927 Kemal expelled all (i.e. first of all Islamic ) religious instruction from all public schools ( primary , secondary and higher ) . The side effect of this reform was that for the first time in 1000 years many Turks received a really secular education , free from Islamic obscurantism and its deadening effect on the mind . This was perhaps the most revolutionary event that Kemalism with all its lies and opportunism - produced . But it didn't last long . The new Kemalist masters saw the wave of vocal social and political criticism with apprehension and gradually eroded Kemal's revolutionary reform . As soon as in 1949 they made religion (=Islam) an optional subject in primary schools . A few years later the same optional subject was introduced to secondary schools and in 1967 to high schools .

That which happened after the Kemalists staged their coup d'etat in 1980 must have made Kemal turn in his mausoleum . His disciples made Islam instruction which he had expelled from Turkish school system an obligatory school subject for all levels of education !!! It's not so hard to see who gained most thereby and why it was made , isn't it ? It is also the best response to anyone who ( as Dr. Pipes ) like re-telling the official Turkish story of good "secularists" vs. bad "Islamists" .

As a result of this Kemalist reform not a single child in Turkey escapes nowadays the fangs of Islam which start biting at its brain when it is in the 4th grade and continues for 8 formative years until it forms the notoriously impervious and disfigured Moslem mind with all its lamentable dysfunctions .

Now if Kemal's education reform was the key feature of secularism as it put an end to Islamic brainwashing , so the Kemalists' education reform of 1980 and afterwards is the key event to understand the rise of what I'd call Islamo-Kemalism , i.e. a hybrid monster which puzzles so many by its double Ianus-like (no self-irony included ;) Moslem and secular face . It is self-portrayed as "secular" , although all in Turkey are practically 100% Moslem . If before 1980 they were Moslems rather by birth than by formal education , so now thanks to the alliance between Kemalist militarists in power and Moslem bigots that had a common fight in teh 1970-ies and 1980-ies they are so now like everywhere else in the Islamic world by right of public education as well .

So I think this is in brief the core of the problem which you have touched upon . It arose essentially an internal Turkish problem , one of the innumerable vagaries and perversities of this despotic state with meretricious democratic window-dressing . Frankly, I don't see any Wahabbis at the beginning of this process . Sure, they did come with suitcases of money but only later after the Tukish soil was ploughed , fertilized and sown with the bad seed of Islam by the Kemalists themseves .

Submitting....

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