The Secularization of Turkey…Turkey’s Significance pt 4

By the time the guns of World War 1 had been silenced and the armistice had been enacted, Turkey had been stripped of her vast Empire, the 400 years long Ottoman rule was broken and Turkey was reduced to the borders we now recognize, a shell of what she once  controlled.

Exactly one hundred years ago, in the midst of the War, Ottoman Turkey’s leaders undertook a genocide eradicating many Christian  Assyrians, Greeks and an entire population of Armenians from Turkish soil.

Three million Armenians, lived in Turkey, it was the first “Christian Kingdom” , the Armenian king having been converted  to Christ in the first century AD. The Armenian community had persevered in spite of centuries of imposed Dhimmi status, deprivation,various programs and impoverishment.

The genocide took place in two distinct phases. All of the able-bodied Armenian men were rounded up, either massacred outright, or conscripted into slave labor camps where many died. The second phase was a forced deportation march of the remaining Armenian population, women children, elderly, weak and sick, through the Syrian desert. a million Armenians died, countless others were raped, tortured and dispersed across the globe.

To this day the Turkish government denies the atrocity, and the lack of international indignation, literally encouraged Hitler in his genocidal quest to destroy Jews. When asked if he ever thought about histories condemnation, Hitler replied, “No one said anything about the Armenians did they?”.

Turkey had sided with Germany in the conflict and would now be forced to pay the price of being on the losing side.In November 1918 Italian British and French troops occupied Istanbul, and would remain there until 1923. This was the first time Istanbul had been occupied by Westerners since the fall of Constantinople in 1453.

The Sykes Picot agreement between the victorious allies had already redrawn the maps of the Middle East, creating new countries such as TransJordan(modern Jordan), Palestine(Israel) Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Algeria and other new nations which had once been under the oppressive rule of the Ottoman empire. France and Britain would be granted “mandates” over these new states.

This is how the modern Middle Eastern order was established and would remain basically until very recently. The whole region has been destabilized as of the events of the so called “Arab Spring” which commenced early in 2011.

The Ottoman government collapsed and there was a brief Turkish War of Independence between a newly formed Turkish National Movement, and Armenian and Greek proxy forces of the victorious allies. Eventually a reasonable agreement was settled upon and the new Turkish Nationalist movement came to power, under the leadership of  “young Turks” led by Mustafa Kemal who came to be known as Ataturk-“Father of the Turks”.

Kemal concluded that Turkey needed to be modernized, and brought into the twentieth century. Thus he undertook a series of radical reforms which would transform Turkey into a modern European style state. Turkey would have a constitution, it would become a Republic, sovereignty would be invested in the State and not in any single ruler.

He changed the day of rest to Sunday, changed the calendar,

Perhaps the most astonishing reform was Kemal’s banishment of Islam from any role in shaping public policy, a kind of “Separation of Mosque and state”. Sheriot(Shariah) was revoked, religious schools were closed, public education was secularized, and perhaps most shockingly to Sunnis across the former Empire, the Caliphate was abolished and the Government was moved to Ankara.

It was shortly after the banishment of the Caliphate occurred, a profound calamity to the Sunni world, an Egyptian group formed called the Muslim Brotherhood, which made the restoration of the Caliphate it’s priority. A tall order considering the weakness and disarray of the Muslim world and the seeming invincible strength of the Christian West.

Other reforms included clothing changes, women were no longer required to wear a veil, men were encouraged to dress in modern western clothing. The Fez was outlawed, and the veil was strongly discouraged, so great was the break from the past which the movement attempted.

Ataturk under-took national language reform replacing the former Persian,TurkishArabic language with a purer form of Turkic speech.  Even the national script was changed under his direction. Turkey adopted Latin script, which actually drastically  improved national literacy.

The Turkish military became a secularized national army in the western sense, and to it was vouchsafed by constitution the preservation of Turkey’s secular status.

Turkey emerged as a modern secular European State, a member of Nato, an Ally of the West throughout the cold war, a close friend of Israel,  and has been considered for inclusion into the European Union. Turkey has the world’s sixth largest military and the largest military in Europe.

She has maintained her secular status for almost a hundred years, the military stepping in when necessary to preserve Turkey’s republic from Islamists ,in 1960,1971, 1980, and 1997.

But recent events in Turkey portend a radical shift away from the successful secular hiatus Turkey and the world have enjoyed, and back into the heavily Islamic and Imperialistic   past which Turkey has only recently emerged from.

The world has been living in an anomaly; for the past century a huge menace to Western peace and stability has been vanquished. The menace which long threatened Europe and all of Christendom and which had a long string of uncontested victories has lately been put to rest, and forgotten.  But the Beast , as we will see, is awakening and Turkey has a prime role to play in the last days.

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1 Response to The Secularization of Turkey…Turkey’s Significance pt 4

  1. Roger says:

    Thank you for a very relevant and timely series Bill…

    More so, given very recent events

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