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The Boston Globe 06/23/08

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This is in response to H.D.S. Greenway 's article of Boston Globe "Secularism, democracy, and Turkey's crumbling dream"

Hellenic Electronic Center (HEC)

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June 23, 2008

In his June 17 op-ed "Secularism, democracy, and Turkey's crumbling dream" H.D.S Greenway refers to Mustafa Kemal and the "invading Greeks". This is pure Turkish propaganda, the Greeks invaded nothing. The Greeks liberated parts of Asia Minor
which were still being inhabited by Greeks after 3,000 years. During the final years of the
Ottoman Empire, Turkish rulers ordered the mass killings and deportations of the Greeks, Armenians, and Assyrians of Asia Minor. This is attested to by documents and eyewitness accounts emanating from American diplomats, missionaries, and others. Mustafa Kemal was himself a notorious racist and murderer whose armies presided over the mass slaughter of Greek Orthodox and Armenian Christians in the City of Smyrna in September 1922.
Among the victims of Mustafa Kemal, was Greek Orthodox Archbishop Chrysostom of
Smyrna who remains unknown in the West but is beloved by Greek Orthodox Christians for his superhuman efforts to protect his flock from the armies of Mustafa Kemal. The example of Chrysostom, in contrast to Kemal, is an example of love. The Archbishop in emulation of the example of Christ offered himself as a sacrifice on behalf of his flock. American Consul General to Smyrna George Horton and others urged the Archbishop to save himelf but he insisted on sharing the fate that would befall his flock, and was subsequently hacked to death by Islamic fanatics who made up the ranks of Mustafa Kemal's supporters. The fact that Western journalists offer praise for Kemal rather than the Archbishop and his flock who were his victims is an obscenity kept alive by the power of the Turkish lobby which is working on behalf of Turkey, a brutal military dictatorship. In our own day, his holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, has been the victim of five terrorist attacks in Constantinople.
Turkish extremists, fully encouraged by the rhethoric emanating from the Turkish government and military against the Ecumenical Patriarchate have found the atmosphere in
Turkey conducive for their attacks against Christians. Nearly one year ago, retired military officers emanating from the institution more loyal to Mustafa Kemal than any other attempted to assasinate his holiness Bartholomew I and the Patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church. The attempted killings of these two prelates symbolizes the Genocide of these communities earlier in the century by Mustafa Kemal and his forerunners in the Young Turk government.

Theodore G. Karakostas This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Member of HEC Executive Committee


Secularism, democracy, and Turkey's crumbling dream

By H.D.S. Greenway

June 17, 2008

HE WAS born just before the last great crumbling of the Ottoman Empire in an Ottoman province that is now Greece. He came to fame as an inspired military leader who out-maneuvered and out-fought the French, the British, and their dominion armies from Australia and New Zealand, who were clinging to the beaches of the Dardanelles in their ill-fated attempt to knock Turkey out of the first World War.
more stories like thisAnd when the empire was gone, and the allies tried to carve up Turkey itself with the 1920 treaty of Sevres, Mustafa Kemal rallied his demoralized countrymen, pushed out the invading Greeks, and faced down the British and French to secure the boundaries of Turkey as they stand today.
Having prevailed over the West, Kemal then set about on one of the most absolute social transformations of a country in history in order to be like the West. The ancient, flowing script was abandoned in favor of a Latinized alphabet - cutting Turks off from centuries of eastern literature. He lifted what he considered the dead hand of Islam from the body politic.
Turkey would become a European-style, secular state with laws and regulations drawn from various European legal systems and constitutions. He would henceforth be known as Atatürk, the father of all Turks.
This was not done by referendum. Traditionalists resisted. But it was done almost overnight, leap-frogging the centuries that
Europe had spent settling the balance between what was to be relegated to Caesar and what was God's.
Kemalism, as it came to be known, became the official doctrine, and over the years if anyone tried to stray, the army was there to protect Atatürk's ideals. Religion was to be allowed, but it was to be personal, as in
Europe, and not interfere with the state.
Over the years, Atatürk's heirs have become rigid and unwilling to compromise. Even though Turkey has a working democracy, the Kamalist establishment has not entirely trusted democracy, and the army always stood ready as the guardian of the state to turf out any government it feels is straying too far from the path that Atatürk blazed.
Stephen Kinzer, in his book "Crescent and
Star, Turkey Between Two Worlds," wrote that if "isiklal" (freedom) was his favorite Turkish word, "devlet" was his least favorite. Devlet means state in the dictionary, but it goes far beyond that. It is an "omnipotent entity that stands above every citizen and every institution," Kinzer wrote.
"It is a self-perpetuating elite - the generals, police chiefs, prosecutors, judges, political bosses, and press barons who decide what devlet demands. . . . This elite has written many laws to help it do what it perceives as its duty, and when necessary it acts outside the law."
Today, democracy in
Turkey is imperiled by devlet. Recently, the constitutional court struck down the Turkish Parliament's decision to allow girls to wear headscarves in state universities. Parliament is controlled by an Islamic-leaning government, under Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is committed to maintaining a secular state. Ironically, his government is more democratic than the devlet will allow. Partly because of headscarves, there is another case before the courts that would shut down his political party, and ban its leaders from politics for endangering Kemalist principles.
No issue alarms the traditionalist Kemalists as does the headscarf. As in
France, it seems to hit at the very heart of what the secular state is all about. If devlet decides it cannot bear headscarves, so be it. The US Supreme Court is not adverse to overturning the will of Congress when it deems necessary.
But that being said, if a moderate religious party that has been democratically elected is forcibly disbanded, if there is no recourse to the ballot box, then what hope is there for moderate Islam? To ban Erdogan and his party would be to force dissent away from political discourse and into the mosque, as is the case in less democratic Muslim countries.
Erdogan has presided over a reformist government bent on joining the European Union, which would have been Atatürk's desire. If Erdogan and his party are banned it would be devlet at its very worst, and, ironically, the end of Atatürk's European dream.

H.D.S. Greenway's column appears regularly in the Globe.

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