Tag Archives: Ataturk

Rewriting the Pakistani script

Ayaz AmirBy Ayaz Amir

Islamabad diary

A few words about the parade…why must the accompanying commentary be so hysterical? I put on the TV at about a few minutes to eleven but the commentary, male and female, was just too much, going on and on without a moment’s rest, much too loud and indeed deadlier than any of the weaponry marching past. If the military can’t be made to learn the uses of brevity what hope for the rest of the nation? Thanks to the commentary, two minutes of the parade was all I could stand. There was also the charismatic visage of the president. On this subject what more is there to say?
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Saroop Ijaz on Imran Khan and the 19/90 days promise. Lying or stupid?

The lies and triangulations of Imran Khan

By Saroop Ijaz

When the educated, prudent Imran Khan supporter is asked for her views on the unbelievably grand proclamation of the ‘dear leader’ stating that he will uproot corruption in 19 days and eradicate terrorism in 90 days, there are always two slants, often one after the other. The devotee will inevitably begin by arguing how Imran Khan will unquestionably and quite breezily achieve the said objectives in the self-stipulated time period. If the line of reasoning is further pursued (or reasoning used at all), they will gingerly and sheepishly concede that statements might not be susceptible to literal implementation, but making an invigorated comeback, state that he is better than everyone else and has built a cancer hospital and who else could they vote for etc? At this point a smirk breaks out on the face of the PTI foot-soldier; to them it is the clincher. The best argument for Imran Khan is something which can be vaguely phrased as some notion of the ‘lesser evil’. There is some difficulty in grasping the concept of how the subsequent quantitative judgment about less or more is precisely made, once the qualitative determination of ‘evilness’ has been reached.

Let me be plain on the matter, the proclamations of Imran Khan on corruption and terrorism and the arbitrary, flashy deadlines are untrue on their face. They require no elaborate refutation, and a child of 10 having average intelligence should see through them, unless of course they have uncritical love blinding them. This brings us to the question of motive, here again an unflattering binary is unavoidable; either he is lying by design or he does not possess the fortitude to understand and realize what he says. At a core level, it is a choice between deceit and self-deceit. I do not think Imran Khan is fantastically intelligent, but he is decent by cricketer/politician standard. Hence, because he is not severely mentally handicapped, it is safe to say that he does know what he promises is not only undoable, it is impossible that he will get anywhere close to these deadlines in the best of circumstances. The blatant misrepresentations cannot be attributed to Spartan simple-mindedness or childlike innocence; it is done with complete knowledge. Therefore, even to put it at its mildest, Imran Khan is deliberately and consciously lying.

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The Dönmeh heritage, Mustapha Kemal Ataturk & Modern Turkey

The Dönmeh: The Middle East’s Most Whispered Secret (Part I)

By Wayne MADSEN

There is a historical “eight hundred pound gorilla” lurking in the background of almost every serious military and diplomatic incident involving Israel, Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Greece, Armenia, the Kurds, the Assyrians, and some other players in the Middle East and southeastern Europe. It is a factor that is generally only whispered about at diplomatic receptions, news conferences, and think tank sessions due to the explosiveness and controversial nature of the subject. And it is the secretiveness attached to the subject that has been the reason for so much misunderstanding about the current breakdown in relations between Israel and Turkey, a growing warming of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and increasing enmity between Saudi Arabia and Iran…

Although known to historians and religious experts, the centuries-old political and economic influence of a group known in Turkish as the “Dönmeh” is only beginning to cross the lips of Turks, Arabs, and Israelis who have been reluctant to discuss the presence in Turkey and elsewhere of a sect of Turks descended from a group of Sephardic Jews who were expelled from Spain during the Spanish Inquisition in the 16th and 17th centuries. These Jewish refugees from Spain were welcomed to settle in the Ottoman Empire and over the years they converted to a mystical sect of Islam that eventually mixed Jewish Kabbala and Islamic Sufi semi-mystical beliefs into a sect that eventually championed secularism in post-Ottoman Turkey. It is interesting that “Dönmeh” not only refers to the Jewish “untrustworthy converts” to Islam in Turkey but it is also a derogatory Turkish word for a transvestite, or someone who is claiming to be someone they are not.

The Donmeh sect of Judaism was founded in the 17th century by Rabbi Sabbatai Zevi, a Kabbalist who believed he was the Messiah but was forced to convert to Islam by Sultan Mehmet IV, the Ottoman ruler. Many of the rabbi’s followers, known as Sabbateans, but also “crypto-Jews,” publicly proclaimed their Islamic faith but secretly practiced their hybrid form of Judaism, which was unrecognized by mainstream Jewish rabbinical authorities. Because it was against their beliefs to marry outside their sect, the Dönmeh created a rather secretive sub-societal clan.

The Dönmeh rise to power in Turkey
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The Ottoman empire’s secular history undermines sharia claims

A new paper shows 18th- and 19th-century Ottoman rulers decriminalised homosexuality and promoted women’s education

by Tehmina Kazi

Hardline Muslim groups often portray the Ottoman empire as a magic template for a global caliphate. This is then used as a springboard for grandiose arguments that paint a caliphate as viable, and deem it as the only credible model of governance for the future. These arguments are based on a belief that the empire adhered to a single interpretation of sharia (Islamic law) for over 600 years, and – crucially – that its success was contingent on this.

But a paper by Ishtiaq Hussain, published by Faith Matters on Saturday displays a very different picture. Ottoman sultans, or caliphs, in the 18th and 19th centuries launched secular schools and promoted the education of women. The period of reformation known as the Tanzimat saw customary and religious laws being replaced in favour of secular European ones. More surprisingly, homosexuality was decriminalised in 1858 (long before many western states took their cue, and over a century before the American Psychiatric Association declassified it as a mental illness in 1973). Contrary to the claims of hardline groups, religious authorities approved many of these measures.

In terms of broader social change, the Ottomans made strong attempts to integrate non-Muslim communities. On the cultural front, it is well known that a minority of people claim that Islam frowns upon artistic expression. However, the last sultan/caliph, Abdulmecid Efendi (1922-1924) has numerous paintings on display in Istanbul’s new museum of modern art; many others were also keen musicians and played a variety of musical instruments. It is therefore clear that the sultan/caliphs enunciated a progressive vision for a secular Muslim society, many years before al-Qaida and similar groups came into existence.

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