Atatürk’s children vs. Muhammed’s followersΙούλ 7th, 2007 | Zeynep Pelin Ataman| Κατηγορία: English, Κόσμος, Πολιτική | Email This Post | Print This Post |
by Zeynep Pelin Ataman
As a Turkish citizen living abroad, just two weeks before the elections in Turkey, I am particularly concerned with understanding Turkish politicians and my compatriots’ behavior. From the beginning of this election process, unfortunately, I observe the syndrome of a traumatized society! For many of us, these could be healthy contractions of a democracy but for me the scene is alarming and I tried to find reasons for this fragmented massive political psychology.
The simplest kind of trauma is due to natural causes like an earthquake. The second reason of trauma could be a manmade like in Chernobyl and the third one, which is the most serious, is the trauma deliberately caused by others in the society. Here, I talk about terrorism, assassination of politicians, genocide, civil war and the polarization of political powers. This third reason hurts more than the other reasons. When we live this as individuals, we give some psychological reactions like regression. We go back to utilizing mechanism that was available to us as a child…We are looking for heroes who are going to take care of us. We start loosing our individuality. We hide behind our heroes/leaders blindly…“Us and them” psychology starts…Thus, the society is fragmented…People are extremely preoccupied by differences of ‘others’. Groups purify their language according to their group’s jargon. Prior to elections and in the light of this psychology, I see two groups in Turkish society as if both are traumatized because of the each others’ massive behavior and consequently have been fragmentized: One is Atatürk’s children, the other is Muhammed’s followers.
Muhammed’s followers identify themselves with headscarf and other religious symbols. As Turkey is not a homogeneous country, it is not important if they are Kurdish, Arabic, Caucasian, etc. -even coming from different ethnic origins could be better because it may remind of the existence of many tribes like in the first years of Islam- but the criteria of being from the ‘group’ is to have the same belief: Islam; Thus, the big and mystic protection of Islam’s tent is at their disposal! At the premises of Erdogan and others who grew up in the Islamic sect’s education, these individuals could feel themselves very important whereas during many years, under the republic secular pressure they were regressed due the modern reforms which could not be standardized and digested all over the country…They ended up by identifying themselves with religious figures who have been victorious through Islamist roads like sect leaders. The Turkish army was protecting Turkish citizens from communism for years but Islamist fundamentalism had already done what communism was promising. They were under the big protection of the big magical green tent and the life would be more equal! Even the uniform was ready (head scarf and other symbols). Lawyers, engineers, doctors, intellectuals have started joining them and realising that through belonging to this big group, they were having a bigger share from economic cake.
How were the others reacting? In the 90’s, Atatürk’s children had already started complaining about the threat that these Muhammed’s friends represented for their immortal project called the Republic.
The grand children of this long run project began to get angry because religion’s green tent was providing better protection than red Republican tent. They had to share the economical cake by migrants coming from the countryside. The regression among them started by loosing their important places in the society; their snobbism, looking down on ladies with headscarves walking and driving in Turkish Champs-Elysées has been followed immediately behaving in the name of their father Atatürk and protect the Republic with their flags…They were against the EU and all kinds of foreign hand in the Turkish territory, who were not able to understand the Turkish way of secularism…They remember very often the independence war of Turkish people. It was better for their children to go to dance courses than to pray five times a day. They were not against the fact of praying secretly but they hate all religious symbols in the public and daily life and felt confident when the army protected their secularism. The public area, including the president’s wife’s hair should be “without smell and color” in order to be at the same distance to all citizens. I assume that they have never asked themselves if they were in a same distance with all citizens whenever they were soliciting power delegation from immigrant Anatolians. In their reforms, they never integrated a different form of state-individual relationship than the Ottoman tradition. In fact, from the state-individual dynamics point of view, the secular Turks were repeating the Ottoman mistake and not trying to break feudal chain in the far regions of Anatolia.
Atatürk’s strategy was to avoid all kind of nationalistic tendency based on ‘ethnic origin’, and had invited the idea that all the classes work for the creation of the new Turkey. Otherwise, he could not have been successful in having all Turkish ethnicities’ and class’ support during the war…At the same time, we may consider his reforms as a trauma for Turks who became “nation” after being “ümmet”1 during the Ottoman era. But the fact that Atatürk was embracing all ethnicities and classes under the tent of Turkish feeling, his “state” targeted nationalism, and the success story of the independence war against western countries could not be strong enough to prevent “fissures” in the young artificial society. Atatürk was promoting western values like secularism as a tool in the civilization process of the country and sine qua non condition of human rights…Especially, Turkish women should be represented in all institutions. Thanks to his prescription, old and sick Ottoman has been replaced by the young Turkish and this one could find its dignity in “a modern sense”. Atatürk’s reforms were long running and needed more care during the years during which the Turkish army and Atatürk’s successors have neglected or made mistakes while pretending to protect them… On the other hand, the remedy prescribed by Atatürk could not be digested throughout Turkey and even made some complications in deep Anatolians brains. These complications caused the discussion of our days which targets the concept of the woman dignity. Islamist wing argues that the dignity of the woman pass through her headscarf while Atatürk’s children see it as a threat to human rights and woman’s rights…
After the 1980’s coup d’état, in order to fight against the communism, the accession of Imam Hatip schools2 graduates to the Universities has been allowed by the military government but the Turkish Generals were not aware that they were creating weapons against the secularism as the USA had done in Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion…The “left” was castrated by the coup d’état, and the religion was strengthened by the same army…
If you ask the reasons behind this traumatized and fragmented society, I would go as far as saying that the trauma is not only based on one reason; it is a combination of the undigested reforms of the Republic, the lack of the standardization in the country and the rejection and ignorance of naively religious citizens by the Turkish intelligencia…
In the 70s, while the Turkish intelligencia and its feudal dynamics, contradictory to its nature and duties, was imposing the social communism as the only saver, Islamists were hugging all religious citizens who had not yet digested the Republic’s secularism under the feeling of believing to one Allah and to one prophet…They got the support of the army and the governments following the coup d’état because they were correctly fighting against communism. The feeling of belonging to one group makes one feel equal and it can save you from your regression and inferiority complexes due to the fact of being rejected during long years by the elites of the country while being only an ‘instrument’ to their power request during elections. Islamists have already discovered that the religion was indispensable for Turkish people and were using the same psychoanalytic treatment as Atatürk by making repressed individuals feel important. They would be pro-Europe and were launching their identity as an ex-victim of the intolerant Turkish political and legal climate and new savers of human rights. When they were in the government, things were different ! Astonishing it is to see the Turkish Prime Minister suing caricaturists for having drawn him like a cat, while the former is acting the champion of human rights and especially freedom of expression.
In an academic sense, the reason of this pathological distinction can be a reflection of subjective beliefs; it can be a vehicle of expressing accumulated frustration; and it can be utilitarian activity aimed at certain changes for the better or desirable. Failure to understand such complexity and to emphasize the supposedly crucial role of a single factor may lead to under analysis of this pathology as a new threat in front of the democracy in Turkey.
This time, on the market there is no product other than twisted nationalism and Europeanized Islam. But it seems that Muhammed’s green tent is becoming stronger than Atatürk’s hug and Turks may choose the bigger and stronger protection as a product of the year! Caveat Emptor!
- muslim community[πίσω]
- In Turkey, an Imam Hatip school (Turkish: İmam Hatip Lisesi) is a secondary education institution. As the name suggests, they were originally founded in lieu of a vocational school to train government employed imams; after madrasas in Turkey were abolished by Tevhid-i Tedrisat Kanunu (Unification of the Education Act) as a part of Atatürk’s reforms.[πίσω]