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Savior movements
Savior movements
We can say that after surviving this last nationalist trauma, we have experienced with the Kurdish issue, we may move toward regional integration in line with the spirit of the times.
Wednesday, March 3,2010 21:42
by Ali Bulaç World Bulletin

Looking at the chronology of nationalist movements within the Ottoman Empire, we see that the first nationalist movements emerged among the Balkan nations, the Greeks, Bulgarians and Albanians, seeking to secede from the empire. The second nationalist wave was seen among the Ottoman elites who did not believe the empire could be saved through Ottomanism or Islamism.

The third wave was seen among Arabs. Finally, nationalist movements emerged among Kurds, and in a sense, the Kurdish issue, which causes difficulties today corresponds to a form of late nationalism that originally started in the 19th century Ottoman Empire.
We can say that after surviving this last nationalist trauma, we have experienced with the Kurdish issue, we may move toward regional integration in line with the spirit of the times.

Abdülhamit II believed that the Ottoman Empire would lose the Middle East in the medium term and be deprived of its influence in the Caucasus. So, he concluded, the major Islamic nations (anas?r-? ?slam) of the empire should be concentrated in Anatolia, which could then be fortified against destructive external forces. And he took measures to this end. Abdülhamit’s strategy had two main targets: first, to delay the collapse of the state as much as possible, and second, to reinforce the empire in material and social aspects during this time. If Abdülhamit had not been deposed and if he could have developed a healthy dialogue and cooperation with Islamists, the empire might not have collapsed.

The first and most important ideology that developed among Ottoman intellectuals in this chaotic environment was Ottomanism. Ottomanists argued that by uniting diverse elements of the empire or by drawing them closer to each other, the empire could be turned into a crucible or a common land where every diverse unit could live happily.

Another major intellectual and political movement that deserves to be discussed is Islamism. Like Abdülhamit, the Muslims of the time thought that we would lose the Balkans and a serious problem would arise in six eastern provinces with sizable Armenian populations. For Islamists, it might be possible to keep the Muslim nations of the Caucasus and the Middle East together by stressing Islam as the binding force. This was the main theme of almost all Islamists, including Said Nursi. The theoreticians of Islamism maintained that there are different elements under Islam and it is necessary to promote the unity and integrity of these elements, which could be done with reference to a common identity as Muslims.

The third major movement was Turkism. The major proponents of this movement came not from within the Ottoman Empire, but from the Caucasus and Asia, such as Yusuf Akçora, Velidi Zeki Togan, Ahmet A?ao?lu and Sadri Maksudi. As the first movement of modernization was triggered by Kavalal? Mehmet Ali Pa?a and Egyptian intellectuals, those who gave rise to nationalism based on ethnicity and secularism were the authors who originally came from the Caucasus.

This is an important point because Ottoman intellectuals and political elites were still cool toward nationalist ideologies. They were perfectly justified in being so as there was an empire in their hands and both non-Muslims and Muslims were living together and promoting ethnic nationalism would certainly lead to the separation of diverse religious and ethnic groups.

The proponents of Turkism introduce two major concepts:

(1) Advocacy of the Turkish language. Proponents of this movement, particularly ?mer Seyfettin, tended to attach great importance to language. They criticized the traditional literary forms for not using the language naturally used by the people. They slammed the literary texts of Servet-i Fünun as elaborated beyond being comprehensible and suggested that it was not even a language. They advocated that the language should be the language spoken by the ordinary people, i.e., Turkish.

(2) The proponents of Turkish defined “homeland” within the ideological context of the French Revolution. The new homeland was foreign both to Ottomanists and Islamists, who scorned it. Similarly, the concept of “race” was considerably weak until the establishment of the second constitutional monarchy and the rise to power of the Committee of Union and Progress (?ttihat ve Terakki). This concept gained currency particularly after the establishment of the republic. In this way, new Turkish nationalism, based on the Turkish race, was formulated with emphasis on the Turkish identity.


tags: Islamism / Nationalist Movements / Ottoman Empire / Kurds / Islamists / Albanians / Greeks / Political Movement / French Revolution / Islamic Nation / Caliphate
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