Erdogan : A Sign of Emerging Islamic Renaissance

By : Mohammed Jehan Khan

Since AKP’s take over of Turkey, the country is in the middle of a Religious-Political bewildering. Although Turkey is ruled by Ottomans over centuries, the country is often referred to as the ‘Most Secular Nation’ in muslim world. It’s true, that when Mustafa Kemal, known as ‘Ataturk’ (Father of Turk) the father of modern Turkey, abolished the last Islamic Caliphate, he changed the country’s Islamic character, many pious and orthodox muslims were hunted down by the military, Mosques were closed, and Arabic script was replaced with the latin, which made 98% of the turks illiterate overnight.

However this move helped the remaining 2% of westernised elites to dominate politics and country’s administration. It is this reason, even after 90 years, this portion of Turks owes Ataturk a great deal and often acts as the guardians of country’s secular roots. The consequences of this change are still being felt today throughout the Muslim world, and especially in a very polarised and ideologically segmented Turkey.

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? According to the Lost Islamic History website, The author, Prof. Firas Al-Kathib states, Ataturk was a Donmeh. Donmehs are the descendants of the Ottoman era Jews who, along with their leader Sabbatai Zevi, converted to Islam in 1666 and took Muslim names but secretly followed their Jewish rituals. The orthodox Jewry, however, has condemned the Donmehs as heretic because they worshipped Sabbatai Zevi as the messiah and an incarnation of God. It is very difficult to identify a Donmeh in today’s Turkey because they have well assimilated into Turkish society and there is no difference between a Donmeh and a highly westernized Turkish Muslim.

Ataturk was an officer in the Ottoman Army. Hailing from Salonika, the birthplace of Donmehs, he was one of the commanders who defeated the British and the French forces during the Gallipoli campaign in 1915. Later, he joined the Young Turk rebellion and played a key role in the military coup that overthrew the Caliph at a time when Western powers such as Britain and Zionists had deeply penetrated into the corridors of power in Istanbul. The modern Turkey was later established and the ideology of Mustafa Kemal, which is fondly dubbed as KEMALAISM played the key role in Turkish politics ever-since.

Under Kemalism

1) Turkey’s democracy was often disturbed by military coups
2) Turks lived through corrupt government administrations and poor infrastructure. (Turkey was then called the ‘Sick Man for Europe’)
3) Pious Turks faced systematic discrimination, Mosques and Islamic schools were all closed.
4) Religious endowments were seized and put under government control.
5) Sufi lodges were forcefully shut down.
All judges of Islamic law in the country were immediately fired, as all Shari’ah courts were closed.
6) Traditional Islamic forms of headdress such as turbans and the fez were outlawed in favour of Western-style hats.
7) The Hijab was banned
8) The calendar was officially changed, from the traditional Islamic calendar, based on the hijrah to the Gregorian calendar, based on the birth of Jesus Christ.
9) In 1932, the adhan – the Muslim call to prayer – was outlawed in Arabic. Instead, it was rewritten using Turkish words and forced upon the country’s thousands of mosques.

Turkish military, the eightth largest army in the world, became the guardian of ‘Kemalist Ideology’. It is an important institution of the “deep state” which believes that the responsibility to maintain the country’s secular character lies with it. The biggest step that Erdogan has taken to abolish secularism in Turkey was the gradual weakening of the military institution. During this time a major political upheavel took place in Turkey, after a newspaper exposed a secret military document that gave details of a plot to overthrow the civilian government led by Erdogan. The expose came against the backdrop of the arrest of several ex-military and civil servants in 2008 for their alleged role in a plan to topple the democratically-elected government of Erdogan, who is the leader of the AK Party. Erdogan purged 11 top officers involved in some capacity in the ‘Ergenekon’ (a clandestine, ultra-nationalist organisation) and ‘Beyloz’ (planned attacks against religious and Kurdish minorities to blame to put the blame on government) affairs.

Turkey, which, apart from military chiefs and plots, comprises the westernised elite including top public servants and university dons, are largely Kemalists, supporters of Mustafa Kemal. They were the people who drafted Turkey’s secular constitution and laws that bar Muslim women from wearing the head scarf in public institutions and the same group protested against Erdogan at Gezi park holding beer cans and vodka bottles.

Erdogan’s government, which obtained the highest number of votes and came into power under the Prime Minister Abdullah Gul in the 2002 elections, openly began the “Islamisation” era of Turkey. AK Party that won 2 more general elections under the guidance of Erdogan, brought Turkey to an unbelievable point. At first the country began getting stronger economically; positive steps were taken towards health, education and environment.

“Is Turkey’s AKP government facing a coup just like the ‘Brotherhoodians’ of Egypt?” “No” says my Turkish friend, an active participant of Turkish politics. With all my conversations with Turkish people, I am so happy to hear them criticising Mustafa Kemal. A few years ago, none dared criticise him in public or in conversation with outsiders, many Turkish folks lived in a mental police state, afraid of expressing any political beliefs for fear of the police and military. But things are changing in Turkey. History is being rewritten. They are daring to speak now.

No wonder “A quiet Islamic renaissance” is taking place in Turkey, hundreds years ago a superpower known as the ‘Ottoman Empire’. The inevitable result is going to be a region in which particular interpretations of Islamic shariah will play a direct role in shaping people’s lives.

‘It’s a matter of Time’

(Mohammed Jehan Khan is a Sri Lankan Independent Socio-Political writer and can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @OfficialJehan)


Author: Mohammed Jehan Khan

A Soldier of Fortune who born without a silver spoon in his arse. Google my name to know me more.

2 thoughts on “Erdogan : A Sign of Emerging Islamic Renaissance”

  1. Nice post. I learn something more challenging on different blogs everyday. It will always be stimulating to read content from other writers and practice a little something from their store. Id prefer to use some with the content on my blog whether you dont mind. Natually Ill give you a link on your web blog. Thanks for sharing.


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