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"Fetih bayram" - Islamists and secularists march together to celebrate the 554th anniversary of the "liberation" of Constantinope from the Greek occupation

Reader comment on item: A Critical Moment For Turkey

Submitted by Ianus (Poland), May 28, 2007 at 13:16

Having read eulogies of millions of brave moderate Moslems and secularists marching across Turkey against wicked Islamism , let's say a little about a famous march - so unjustly ignored by the West - which will tomorrow unite the alleged enemies of the last few weeks in the streets of Constantinople. They will celebrate together the greatest and most expensive festivity in the city : "Fetih Bayram" - the joyous commemoration of the "liberation" of the Turkish capital city from foreign occupation in 1453 . Janissaries , sipahis , akindjis , plenty of Ottoman (identical with today'sTurkish ) flags and symbols will be there to gaze at and enjoy . As usually on this day the feeling of national unity , old greatness and unselfish solidarity will overwhelm the nation.

To an educated European the 29th of May 1453 seems to be one of the most tragic dates in modern history. Europe's spiritual capital , the stronghold of Christianity for more than 1000 years was violently destroyed , its population butchered or enslaved , the biggest Cjhrsitian church of the time desacrated and then changed into a mosque . This cataclysmic event was received with horror across the continent . Everyone knew that having conquered the former Eastern Roman Empire , the Turks would turn westwards to impose their yoke upon the rest of Europe. And albeit they eventually failed in the process and themselves survived the reaction they had provoked by a miracle, the Turks have never forgotten their most prestigious victory of 1453. In enlightened and philhellenic Europe the massacres of the 29th of May 1453 would be commemorated as a day of mourning .

Not so in Turkey , of course ! The Turks proudly celebrate it as their Allah-given victory. They do remember that the fall of the city to the Moslems was prophecied by Muhammad and they are proud to see that Allah chose just the Turks from among all the Moslems to fulfill this prophecy on behalf of the entire ummah . At school every child hears constantly about the "splendid conquest" and "heroism" and "courage" of Allah's warriors in the face of the infidel cowardly and treacherous Greeks . The 29.05 is celebrated officially in istanbul as the "liberation day" of the city . The other "liberation day" is celebrated on October , 6th . Appaprently the liberation fairy tale and the fairy tale of the greatness that was the Ottoman empire serve as a better way to gratify the narcissist and megalomaniac Turkish soul than a little more 'moderate' Kemalist fantasies.

So c. 40 years ago a Turkish schoolchild if asked about the Ottoman empire would answer according to the then official Kemalist dogma that it was a rotten , unjust, oppressive, out-dated tyranny which had harmed the Turks and favoured alien elements at their expense. How otherwise could the actions of the Father of the Turks be justified ? How could the liquidation of the sultanate and caliphate be excused if it hadn't been so ? But when the same question is posed today to a Turkish schoolchild the answer is the opposite one. The glories and greatness and felicity of the Ottoman Empire are stressed, the leading position of the Turks emphasized. For the downfall of this grand empire the internal (Serbs, Greeks, Armenians) and external (Russia, the greedy and perfidious West ) enemies are to blame . The problems with justifying Atatürk's subversive actions don't arise as it was not him who destroyed the splendid empire but internal and external enemies which must be punished for their evil acts.

So the jollifications which will take place tomorrow in Instabul are another example how the secularists and Islamists can share the same values , cooperate closley, be unanimous and serve the same cause with different means . In this case - just like Northern Cyprus and Kurdistan - the Islamism vs Secularism story is useless to explain why the two 'implacable enemies' march unanimously under the same old Ottoman banner .

Submitting....

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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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