69 million page views

Ataturk was a nationalist not an Islamist

Reader comment on item: Once considered anti-Islam, senior scholar says he's now in the middle
in response to reader comment: Have you forgotten Armenian Genocide committed by "moderate" Muslim Turkey???

Submitted by Jason Pappas (United States), Sep 6, 2010 at 22:07

Jalahdi, we don't really disagree. I previously said "Ataturk's secularization of Turkey moderated the practice of Islam. Don't get me wrong. Ataturk was not a moderate person; he was a dictator in the interwar years that saw the rise of Mussolini, Franco, and worse. He was brutal."

Ataturk was a Turkish nationalist and he was brutal to Armenians and my fellow Greeks. My point isn't that Ataturk was a liberal. Please! Nationalist dictators are anything but!

My point is that he wasn't an Islamist--leading an Islamic charge. He was a secularist who marginalized Islam but substituted another evil in its place.

Eventually Turkey became more moderate. And yes, she is slipping into the Islamic fold once again.

Islam isn't the only problem in history. Nationalism, socialism, communism, are a few more. It's too bad that when Muslims pushed aside Islam (to some extent) that they replaced it with Western collectivism of one variety or another. They never tried Anglo-American liberalism.

According to the Bernard Lewis narrative, the failure of Arab (Turk or Iranian) secularists (all of the collectivist variety) led to the disillusionment with Western culture and the return to Islam.

This is why "fundamentalist Islam", "militant Islam", and "radical Islam" are Western terms that aren't found in Islamic cultures. They simply speak of an "Islamic Revival."

As I said, I agree that Islam is Islam. I don't agree with Pipes about the religion. However, he has a point about the sociology. Muslims can moderate their practice. I suggest they do it by marginalizing the religion. Unfortunately, when they did so in the past they also chose brutal collectivist secular alternatives. Perhaps the fit was natural.


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".

Follow Daniel Pipes

Facebook   Twitter   RSS   Join Mailing List

All materials by Daniel Pipes on this site: © 1968-2024 Daniel Pipes. daniel.pipes@gmail.com and @DanielPipes

Support Daniel Pipes' work with a tax-deductible donation to the Middle East Forum.Daniel J. Pipes

(The MEF is a publicly supported, nonprofit organization under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code.

Contributions are tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law. Tax-ID 23-774-9796, approved Apr. 27, 1998.

For more information, view our IRS letter of determination.)