Turkish history Ataturk
Turkey is in the middle of a political crisis that has pitted the Islamic-rooted civilian government against the military, following reports of an alleged move by military leaders to overthrow the government. Ameen Izzadeen,who was in Turkey last week meeting journalists, civil society leaders and political activists, reports on the country’s changing socio-political scenario. Is Turkey facing a military coup? No way, says a journalist whom I met in Istanbul, Turkey’s most populous city which reminds visitors and citizens of the country’s glorious Islamic past. During my conversation with journalists, academics, political activists and businessmen, I was shocked to hear them criticise Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the father of modern Turkey. A few years ago, none dared criticize him in public or in conversation with outsiders. Things are changing in Turkey. History is being rewritten. Even the last Ottoman sultans whom the Kemalists — supporters of Mustafa Kemal and Turkey’s secular system — blamed for all the ills of Turkey in the early 20th century are being hailed as “good and honest leaders”. Media freedom has undergone a qualitative and quantitative change for the better. They are daring to speak now.”The army won’t be able to topple the government, ” the journalist said. “If it does, it knows there will be public uprising and street protests, ” he said.
“Can I quote you, ” I asked him.
“No problem, go ahead, ” he said.
But I told him that I would not mention his name, because I did not want any harm befall him.
A highly respected leader of the Fethullah Gulen movement, which emphasizes Islam’s universal love and tries to make Islam compatible with the country’s secular order, told me that a “quiet revolution is taking place” in Turkey, hundreds years ago a superpower reverently addressed as the Great Ottoman Empire.
The revolution is: A government elected by the people is daring to look into the eyes of the “deep state”, which, in Turkish political terminology, means a state within a state, while more and more people are discovering their Islamic roots, which the secular elite have been trying to erase for the past 86 years.
Turkey, where democracy had been often disturbed by regular military coups since the Republic was set up in 1923, is moving towards more democracy, with the government sending a message to the military that its role as a state within the state is ending.
The Turkish military, which has the world’s eighth largest Army, considers itself as the guardian of the republic. It is an important member of the “deep state” which believes that the responsibility to maintain the country’s secular character lies with it. The deep state, which, apart from military chiefs, comprises the westernized elite including top public servants and university dons, are largely Kemalists — supporters of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the father of modern Turkey and its first President. They were the people who drafted Turkey’s secular constitution and laws that bar Muslim women from wearing the head scarf in keeping with Ataturk’s vision of a modern republic.
Very little is known about Ataturk’s family background or what his faith was. Was he a Muslim or a Donmeh, a word used for a member of a secretive Turkish society? Donmehs are the descendants of the Ottoman era Jews who, along with their...