Turkey was the seat of the last Caliphate. After Mustafa Kemal officially abolished the Caliphate on 3rd March 1924 he brutally suppressed the Islamic culture in the name of secularism. Yet despite 82 years of brutal secular rule and suppression of their culture, Muslims in Turkey are abandoning western secular culture in favour of Islam.
In November 2002, the Justice and Development Party - an Islamist party, swept to power after Turks abandoned the traditional secular parties.
The current Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan remains Turkey’s most popular politician due to his perceived Islamic credentials. When Erdogan was Mayor of Istanbul, he was sentenced to 10 months in prison for publicly reciting an Islamic poem. His wife also wears the hijab, a growing trend in Turkey where hijab is banned in universities and government offices.
The demand for wearing hijab is now so great that Islamic-inspired swimsuits are appearing on Turkish beaches. “We are the preferred firm of the conservative politicians’ wives,” said Mehmet Sahin, whose company, Hasema, sold 40,000 swimsuits last year and expects a 25 per cent increase this year.
The true inclinations of the Turkish people came to a head earlier this year with the release of the anti-American film called Kurtlar Vadisi or Valley of the Wolves. In the first ten days alone 2.5 million Turks watched the film, smashing box-office records and revealing a deep rooted resentment of American policies in Iraq and elsewhere. The film is based on a real-life incident in which US troops arrested 11 Turkish Special Forces in Iraq and marched them off at gunpoint. The abuse at Abu Ghraib is also portrayed in full. Many politicians have tried to benefit from the public mood behind the film.
Bulent Arinc, the parliament Speaker said, “The film is absolutely magnificent. It is completely true to life.”
Turkey is the only Muslim member of NATO and one of America’s main Muslim allies. Whilst resentment against America and the West is at boiling point in the rest of the Muslim world, Turkey is pushed as an example of a ‘Western friendly’ Muslim state that others should emulate.
But whilst the Turkish government led by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan rushes towards getting Turkey admitted to the EU, Muslims of Turkey have different aspirations.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, in a statement on Al-Jazeera television regarding the tension over the Danish caricatures of Prophet Mohammed (saw) said, “Look at Turkey. I personally want Turkey to be a part of the EU. They are very quickly changing and reforming their laws. The profile of what Muslim societies might be in the future is being sketched out by Turkey.”
Yet Turkey was the scene of some of the largest demonstrations over the insulting cartoons with almost daily protests culminating in a massive demonstration of 50,000 people on 19th February in Istanbul. The protesters called for a boycott of Denmark, where the cartoons were first published, and banners could be seen reading, “The Muslim Turkish nation is with its Palestinian and Iranian brothers.”
After the Caliphate was abolished Mustafa Kemal initiated a brutal drive to destroy all remnants of Islam from Turkish institutions and from the people, forcibly converting them to secularism. He even tried to force the mosques to perform the Azan (call to prayer) and prayers in Turkish. To this day the hijab is still banned in colleges, universities and government buildings. The Prime Minister’s wife who wears the hijab cannot even attend any government functions with her husband.
Despite all these efforts of the Turkish government and military in trying to prevent any resurgence of Islam, the Muslims in Turkey are now rejecting secularism en mass. The aspirations of the people are such that even the current Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan was elected by playing the Islamic card and portraying himself and his party as Islamic, defeating the traditional staunchly secular parties.
After the Caliphate was abolished Lord Curzon, the British Foreign Secretary said, “The situation now is that Turkey is dead and will never rise again, because we have destroyed its moral strength, the Caliphate and Islam.”
Muslims in Turkey want an end to decades of secular governments who have transformed Turkey from the once international superpower as the Ottoman Caliphate, to a country that cannot even gain justice for its own soldiers when they are captured and abused by America. Turkey’s future prosperity is not with joining the EU or allying with America, rather it is through re-establishing the Caliphate in Turkey that will truly represent the values and interests of its people.