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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 .


Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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Reader comments (58) on this item

Title Commenter Date Thread
1Missing the obvious [74 words]car313Oct 26, 2011 16:23190421
Blame Israel [25 words]Joseph IIJul 7, 2010 04:13175250
Europe is the number 1 responsible [44 words]Dawood BenatarJul 23, 2010 13:44175250
Can't lose what you never had [67 words]DaveJun 29, 2010 09:08174979
1Turkey lost itself [303 words]Cherif El-AyoutyJun 29, 2010 05:36174970
Wahhabis not exist in Turkey at all [92 words]M A KavukluogluJun 17, 2010 13:55174500
To M A Kavukluoglu [50 words]Germain LucasJun 18, 2010 11:50174500
1It's all about feeding the crocodile hoping to be eaten the last! [391 words]Germain LucasJun 14, 2010 16:51174410
Turkey Only Misplaced - It Never Lost Its Islamicism [593 words]M. ToveyJun 14, 2010 15:48174409
rise of fundamentalism [29 words]Mary SeayJun 13, 2010 20:53174373
The rise of Islamo-Kemalism [1051 words]IanusJun 14, 2010 15:18174373
Specifically: Once religion integrates into politics, there will be still be more splinter parties within secularists and less under the ultimate unifier, Islam [389 words]LazmanJun 13, 2010 18:38174372
Broadly: After 7 centuries of Ottoman Empire and 36 Sultans/Caliph, many reforms are needed to alter the mentality that worships power [205 words]LazmanJun 13, 2010 18:02174368
1west never looks its own policies towards muslims .. [134 words]syed aliJun 15, 2010 07:47174368
Muslims? [200 words]trans-parereJul 28, 2010 10:17174368
You Are More Likely Correct [62 words]Mark D.Jun 13, 2010 15:13174364
Blame Cast Lead [43 words]Chun Doo HwanJun 13, 2010 06:35174342
The bombed synagogues of Istanbul [71 words]IanusJun 16, 2010 18:16174342
Historical Trend [229 words]VijayJun 13, 2010 05:33174336
it is islam that did it [138 words]Phil GreendJun 12, 2010 22:26174318
Turkey [49 words]FrancisJun 12, 2010 14:43174303
another explanation: secular recoil [214 words]mythJun 12, 2010 09:54174290
Islam Played What Role? [60 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Mark D.Jun 11, 2010 22:56174268
Islamization of Turkey [40 words]G. RinzlerJun 11, 2010 16:58174250
Where did you get this info from? [19 words]AsenaJun 12, 2010 04:45174250
Time to bring back a Modern Turkey/Turkiye [98 words]kamil suJun 13, 2010 02:57174250
Saudi gold for Turkey [748 words]IanusJun 13, 2010 08:24174250
Israel lost Turkey - the world still has it. [214 words]Ghulam Muhammed, MumbaiJun 11, 2010 09:55174228
2Turkey changes direction in the last 30 years [266 words]Ognyan MinchevJun 11, 2010 08:55174225
1Turkish history-writing [173 words]G.VishvasJun 11, 2010 08:33174221
1WESTERN FOLLY [83 words]tyroneezJan 15, 2012 23:32174221
Is Turkey an Isolated Case? [62 words]Gamaliel IsaacJun 11, 2010 07:28174219
who makes the Turkish military? [74 words]AseanJun 12, 2010 05:00174219
1THE ATATURK REVOLUTION HAS FAILED [157 words]shimon mendesJun 11, 2010 04:41174208
Nope, it just was discontinued [153 words]Alain Jean-MairetJun 12, 2010 01:24174208
Good Morning [46 words]AsenaJun 12, 2010 04:53174208
1HISTORY PROVED THAT LEOPARD CANNOT CHANGE HIS SPOTS [259 words]shimon mendesJun 13, 2010 10:50174208
IT WAS THE TURKISH PEOPLE MISFORTUNE [51 words]shimon mendesJun 13, 2010 11:07174208
Turks actually don't need such leaders anymore [95 words]Alain Jean-MairetJun 14, 2010 03:30174208
You are right [126 words]katieJul 15, 2010 02:12174208
But are islamists in power that bad, after all? [116 words]Alain Jean-MairetJun 11, 2010 04:24174207
So They Focus So Much More Now In Islam [65 words]Mark D.Jun 11, 2010 23:42174207
TURKEY IN THE RACE OF BEING THE NEXT PAKISTAN [64 words]F60Jun 11, 2010 02:51174205
I go with door #2 [227 words]NOproblemJun 11, 2010 02:47174204
1The case of Turkey [96 words]Janusz KowalikJun 10, 2010 20:23174195
Who lost Turkey [122 words]Nenette GrunbergJun 10, 2010 20:21174194
Anatoly's Two Cents on Anatolia [477 words]Anatoly TsaliovichJun 10, 2010 19:56174193
Wrong [161 words]AsenaJun 12, 2010 05:16174193
Asena should pay more attention to facts and put them in context [275 words]Anatoly TsaliovichJun 13, 2010 02:15174193
almost an explanation [66 words]mythJun 10, 2010 19:15174189
The West is to Blame [596 words]HistoryscoperJun 10, 2010 18:55174187
Turks lost the Turkey that Ataturk intended it to be. [19 words]M.D.Jun 10, 2010 18:42174186
The Threat of Islam [47 words]Mark D.Jun 11, 2010 23:11174186
Let's not forget what the turks did to Europe for 500 years ...... [290 words]RNDJun 10, 2010 18:34174183
Let's not forget what the turks did to Europe for 500 years ...... [202 words]RNDJun 10, 2010 18:23174182
total fraction of lost votes is almost 50% [121 words]mythJun 10, 2010 18:19174180
Two thoughts [58 words]DianeJun 10, 2010 17:15174176
Islam Played a Role To What Degree? [68 words]Mark D.Jun 11, 2010 23:04174176

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