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"I am Turkey."

Reader comment on item: Islamist Turkey Overreaches
in response to reader comment: Freedom of Speech

Submitted by Ianus (Poland), Jun 16, 2010 at 17:38

Hi, Edward !

Another of your questions is :

> When did it become a crime to denounce Turkey and Ataturk? <

Actually, from the very beginning . All parrot the well known facts of abolishing the sultanate and the caliphate by Kemal but few ponder on what the means were he used to achieve his goal . And the means varied from bribery to intimidation, terror and assassination. It is how he manufacured consent for his praised reforms.

There was a short time around 1925 when he believed he could establish a Western-style democracy in Turkey . But what democracy can exist without opposition ? But how can democratic opposition be born in Turkey where no democracy has been ever heard of ? He had a clever idea how to circumvent the difficulty . He simply appointed his close associates to serve as opposition leaders and he told them to feel free to speak their minds ...just like in a Western democracy . And they believed in what they had been told and started criticizing Kemal , pointing out his blunders , ignorance and incomeptence . The Greeks and the Armenians were artisans and merchants . By exterminating and expelling all of them Kemal was responsible for Turkey's dire economic plight . Suddenly the most necessary daily goods and commodities became unvailable . No shoes could be bought , no clothes were for sale . As a general Kemal may have been brilliant , but as a politician and economist he was a disaster for Turkey . etc. etc .

When Kemal learned what his opposition was saying , he grew furious and had them hanged after staging a Stalin-like show trial with disclosed conspiracies and assassinations etc. . When they were executed he held a famous speech which started so : "I am Turkey . Whoever is against me , is against Turkey ." (There is a fascinating passage on that in J. Benoist-Méchin's biography of Kemal "Mustapha Kémal ou la mort d'un empire", Paris 1954) .

And so ended Kemalist farce of democracy and the one-party republic replaced it . During that time it was e.g. mortally dangerous to pronounce the word "ghazi" (Kemal's old title meaning "Allah's victorious general" ) in public . What is more , he even outdid the Orwellian prototype by forcing his subject to speak and write a new artificial language which is modern Turkish . It was intended as purified Osmanli language which had up to 80 % Persian and Arab vocabulary and a large part of non-Turkic grammar . Thus not just single words and phrases were introduced into an otherwise historical language as in Orwell's novel ! The Turks had to speak and write a new Turkified language themselves as he did using his own language Tukifier ! He invented a story that this artificial language is "in fact" the oldest language in the world , the prototype of all languages on earth ( the sun language theory;) ; that Turks are native to Anatolia and come directly from Sumerians and Hittites and more of the anti-historical nonsense which is now taught in Turkish schools on par with the Quran .

> I'm a little suspicious about the recent dates of the request. I think there has been a sharp deterioration in freedom in Turkey during Erdoğan tenure. <

Paradoxically enough , Erdogan's era has brought some libralization of the Turkish Penal Code . E.g. Kemal's Article 159 , modified in1961, says

"Those who publicly insult or ridicule the moral personality of Turkishness, the Republic, the Parliament, the Government, State Ministers, the military or security forces of the state, or the Judiciary will be punished with a penalty of no less than one year and no more than six years of maximum security imprisonment....

If insulting Turkishness is carried out in a foreign country by a Turk the punishment given will be increased from one-third to one-half."

In other words , I'd be jailed for 9 years for what I am writing here . Now Erdogan's Article 301 in its latest amendment in 2008 reduces my imprisonment to 3 years and makes prosecuting me more difficult by requring permission from the justice minister and even if this permission is achieved still allows the prosecutor to drop the case . True , this liberalization was both a showy gesture to get the favour of the EU bosses for Turkey's access plans. And no doubt it was selfish too, as with their known agenda Erdogan's followers sooner or later may be accused of "publicly denigrating ... the Republic or the Grand National Assembly of Turkey" . In this case they provided for milder punishments for their own followers .

>It is interesting that Ataturk, the founder of the secular state is still officially revered. <

No Orwellian regime without Big Brother .

>My question is whether the situation you describe is long-standing or recent. <

From what I have said you may well infer that this a long-standing situation . Not only do Turks like to amaze the Westerners with their story of "secularism" . They know also how much the West loves change , transformation, reform . So they have their story of change a hand too .

However , on closer consideration and comparing it to Turkish history this Turkish change story turns out not to be as novel as it is presented to us by the Turks . I have always been surprised by the analogies of modern Turkey with the Ottoman past from which officially modern turkey has broken for good . Particularly, this fundemnatal recurrent theme is striking . Every reform in Turkey, be it Tanzimat, Abdul Hamid's constitutionalism or Young Turkish movement from which our Kemal and his views emerged have led exactly in the direction opposite from the declared destination . Young Turks started with generous promises of equality and so enjoyed at first full support of the minorities and ended by exterminating the minorities . Abdul Hamid II started with his constitution which he suspended preferring to rule according to his own arbitrary wishes . Tanzimat was imposed by the West to reform Turkey . It ended with hiding deeper all the evils of Turkey and making all subsequent reforms necessary and futile . Kemalism is cheered as the opposite to Islamism . In fact it made Turkey purely Islamic arming it to the teeth with the latest American weapons.

In short , what chnages in Turkey are its fleeting appearances , facades . The essence of Turkey remains unchanged . Kemal could announce , probably in a drunk state (he was a notorious drunkard) : "I am Turkey" before his servile and terrorized deputies who acclaimed everything he said as revelation from above . But the fact is that he is not Turkey . By terror, fraud and lies he imposed his personality cult on Turkey. But Kemalism is transient . It was - what Dr. Pipes apparently doesn't see - a curious accident in Turkish history and nothing more . Turkish history has always been and will always be as long as it continues dominated by Islam . And by exterminating and expelling all non-Moslems from Turkey Kemal has done the best imaginable service exactly to the force which he allegedly combatted . This alleged enemy of Islam made Islam's triumph in Turkey inevitable. If Turkey is a Moslem monoculture today whose incredible 99,8% Islamization rate is second only to that of Saudi Arabia , it owes this sad record to one person only and this person is Mustafa Kemal Pasha aka Ataturk who once said : "Islam - this decaying corpse of an Arab Beduin is poisoning all in our life".


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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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