About 20,000 pro-Islamic Turks chanted “Down with Israel” to protest Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip yesterday, a day after the Turkish foreign minister called the offensive in response to the abduction of an Israeli soldier “horrifying.”…
An estimated 20,000 angry protesters gathered on Istanbul’s Caglayan square, where banners read: “Don’t remain a spectator to oppression.” The demonstrators, including hundreds of people who travelled to Istanbul from other cities, shouted anti-Israeli slogans…. — from this news item
Which Turkey is it to be then? Erdogan’s Turkey, Abdullah Gul’s Turkey, the Turkey of “Mein Kampf” as a best-seller, the Turkey that refuses completely to discuss the Armenian genocide, the Turkey of “Valley of the Wolves,” a box-office hit? (It even came to Paris, where Alain Finkielkraut went to see it, and came out horrified.) Is it to be the Turkey that not only cannot be admitted to the EU (that can’t happen no matter what), but a Turkey where piece by piece the Kemalist constraints on Islam will be undone, first by changing attitudes (check), then by changing laws (check), and finally, much later, by chipping away at the cult of Ataturk himelf, for the Ataturk-cult gets in the way, obviously, with the cult of that other Perfect Man, Muhammad?
Sabanci and the other industrialists and entrepreneurs, the rectors and professors in the universities, the generals and other officers in Ankara, the journalists and writers whether Pamukian in their fame or not, owe whatever mental freedoms they possess not to Islam, but to Kemalism and its constraints on Islam. They should take stock of what it is in their daily lives that they do now, and wish to continue doing, that could not have been done had Islam still governed the acts, and presumed to govern the minds, as it once did, and as it still does all over the Lands of Islam.
Think, for example, of the books available along that street of largely Islamic bookstores — those endless rows of dull Muslim texts. And imagine that that was all that Turkey had, and not, say, the bookstores of Istiqlal Caddesi or some of the upper-class areas, with real books on all sorts of subjects, not to mention those used bookstores where one can almost sniff the atmosphere of some German Jewish scholar who either passed through Turkey (Erich Auerbach, Leo Spitzer, Herbert Dieckmann), on his way from hell to America — or perhaps he was much younger when he arrived and decided to stay in Turkey, and recently died, and now his fabulous scholarly library is slowly being sold off to discerning visitors to one of these fascinating rare-and-used bookstores were serendipity is the stock in trade. Why, just look at this first edition of Minorsky! and here is a copy, inscribed by the author, of “Osmanische Numismatik” by Anton Schaendlinger, mit 17 Mutztafeln, and over here, behind the glass, is an early edition of Busbecq. Was this previous polymathic owner the gentle though formidable Professor Frankel? Or was it possibly the slightly less gentle and less formidable Professor Nissenbaum? Whoever he was, he did not, fortunately, live long enough to see the resurgence of Islam in the Turkey that he had grown to love.
A few years ago (2000?), the Turkish government mounted an exhibition devoted to paintings of the Padishahin. A fat catalogue accompanied the exhibit. Such paintings, of course, violate the prohibition on depictions of humans, and in other countries — in Pakistan, say, or the Arab countries, or the Islamic Republic of Iran — such an officially-sponsored exhibition would be unthinkable. It was only because of the attitudinal and ideological change among possibly one-quarter of the Turkish population (the part that thinks) that such an exhibit could take place.
But the attacks on the United States for soldiers who are “worse than Nazis,” and the obvious rise in antisemitism do not bode well. Remember all that nonsense about how Israel’s help to Turkey after the Istanbul earthquake would “permanently” change Turkish attitudes? Just the way America’s help after the tsunami would “permanently” change attitudes in Aceh? The only thing “permanent” in Muslim countries is Islam, and the only question for the secularists within Dar al-Islam is how to constrain and tame it, in order to allow the development of a sufficient number of secularists who will then continue to constrain and tame Islam. The only question for Infidels in Dar al-Harb is how to minimize the presence and power of Islam, and hence Jihad, within their countries, and how best to divide, demoralize, and weaken the Camp of Islam, and hence the Camp of Jihad, consisting as it does of Believers both in Dar al-Islam and Dar al-harb.
20,000 protestors, marching along. The advanced part of Turkish society must do something about the attitudes that prompt such protests. How many Arabs are in Turkey now? How many are hanging around this or that seedy “Hotel Palestine,” plotting to deliver Turkey into the hands of Islam, just the way Arafat and the PLO helped so much in delivering up Iran into the hands of Khomeini?