Turkish President Erdogan’s term in office has been defined by proclamations of neo-Ottomanism and clear aspirations at grounding himself the new sultan of a revived Ottoman Empire. However, something also is happening in Turkey, which is in spite of the state-backed growth of Islam’s presence, an increasing secularism and atheism that has penetrated the entire nation:
Young religious people in Turkey are growing skeptical about Islam, according to a report by the BBC.
The number of religious schools in Turkey is 10 times greater than it was in 2003, when President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was elected for his first term. However, according to the BBC, it has become more common for young Turks to question their faith, even though no objective data about the phenomenon is available.
“Until recently, I would not even shake hands with men,” Merve, an elementary school teacher that teaches religion told the BBC. “But now I do not know whether there is a God or not, and I really do not care.”
Merve explained to the reporter that she used to be a radical believer until she suddenly started to doubt God’s existence.
“I thought I would either go crazy or kill myself,” she said. “The next day, I realized I had lost my faith.”
According to the British public service broadcaster, political and religious leaders in Turkey have recently been debating whether the pious young are moving away from Islam, as well.
“Until recently, I was a sympathizer of radical groups such as the Islamic State or Al Qaeda. Today, I am an atheist,” Bekir, a theology student, told the BBC. “I initially wanted to find some logic in Islam, but I could not. Then I started questioning God, too. I used to support the Islamist government here. But oppression breeds revolution. They wanted to oppress us and we started to react.”
Anecdotally, many of those who are doubting their faith become atheists, but some are finding new meaning in different philosophical beliefs, such as deism, which maintains the existence of a non-interventionist creator who permits the world to run following natural laws.
“One day, as I was going down the road to the market, I took my headscarf off and never put it back again,” Leyla, a college student, told the BBC.
“My father does not know I am a deist,” she continued. “If he knew, I fear he might prevent my little sister from having a graduate degree. ‘Your sister went to university, and this is what happened to her,’ he might say. I didn’t ask God to create me, so God cannot ask anything from me in return. I have a right to live as free as a bird.”
However, Turkish authorities, including Education Minister Ismet Yilmaz, are formally denying any crisis of faith in the younger generation of conservative Turks, the BBC reported.
Turkey’s top religious cleric and head of Religious Affairs Directorate, Ali Erbas, told the BBC: “No member of our nation would ever adhere to such a deviant and void concept” as atheism or deism. (source, source)
This might sound like good news to some people. But the decline of Islam to the rise of secularism and atheism is nothing to celebrate, especially in a Turkish context. To the contrary, it is all the more to be worried about, even more so than an Islamic caliphate, because the last time that Turkey went through such a phase- which was scarcely a century ago -the nation embarked on the bloodiest period in its history with a World War leading to the Ottoman Genocide of Christians throughout her empire.
The Ottoman Empire ended in 1923 with the abolition of the Islamic Caliphate, something which had existed since the days of the false prophet Mohammed. However, the Ottoman Empire can be said to have began its final decline around March 1876 with the rise of Sultan Abdulhamid II and the Russo-Turkish war later that year, and was veritably over by 1908 following the Young Turk revolution and his deposition. His successor, Mehmed V, was finally subjugated with the rise of the Three Pashas in 1913, who took control of the Empire and reduced him to little more than a titular figure.
The Young Turks meeting in 1902
These things are not said to put forth the idea that Islam or a Caliphate was or is a better alternative to the Young Turks, who sought for a western-style constitutional government as opposed to the Ottoman monarchy. Both are evil systems, and one cannot be said to be “preferred” to the other for this reason. It was under the reign of Abdulhamid II and before the Young Turk Revolution that tens of thousands of Christians were massacred, in particular during the Hamidian massacres of 1894 to 1896 that were a precursor to the Genocide of 1916, and during which time the Sultan was giving honorific awards to Colt Guns in Connecticut for producing the weapons that he used to commit the massacres.
Christian victims of the Hamidian Massacres from 1895
Turkey must be looked at during this period as a geopolitical figure in a struggle between an American/UK/French backed German alliance with Turkey against Russia whose survival was desired in order to use her as a hedge against the Russians.
Abdulhamid II’s sultanate practically began with the Russo-Turkish war and almost ended the Ottoman Empire, having been seven miles from Istanbul at San Stefano by the British Navy where the Treaty of San Stefano was signed that ended the war. The reason for the British- and by extension French, German, and American -stopping of Russia from defeating the Ottoman Empire was because the British believed that the Russian overthrow of Turkey would threaten the rest of Europe, specifically their interests. Likewise, as history has later shown, they also wanted to use Turkey in preparation for a future war against the Russians.
Beginning in 1887, policy between the US and now Turkey was greatly influenced by Oscar Straus, who worked as a diplomat to Turkey from 1887 to 1889 and then from 1898 to 1899, and then from 1909 to 1910. Straus, who was a Jew born in Germany but rose to the halls of American power, spent his career working with Sultan Abdulhamid II to coordinate the American subjugation of the southern Philippines, which were and still are predominately Muslim using the Sultan as a go-between, mostly with the provision of weapons to the Ottoman government.
Meanwhile, the investment of French, British, and German banks continued to grow. What is most interesting is that the history of Deutsche Bank’s presence in the Ottoman Empire directly correlates with the Young Turk Revolution whose meetings for revolution were held in France, and for after elections in November 1908 following the calls of “Patrimony-Nation-Liberty”- a sound all too similar to the “Liberty-Egalitariansim-Fraternity” of the French Revolution -the German bank opened her first branch in the Empire noting that it would be ‘good for business’:
When the branch was opened in the capital of the Ottoman Empire, the country was by no means foreign to Deutsche Bank. It actually had more experience there than in many other parts of the world, having been active in the Ottoman Empire without interruption for more than 20 years. The focus was on railway construction, which will be looked at in detail later on. But it was knowledge of the political, economic and social conditions on the Bosphorus that caused Arthur Gwinner, management board member responsible for business in the Ottoman Empire, to refrain from establishing a direct presence earlier.
At the end of December 1908, however, Deutsche Bank had changed its opinion fundamentally, and its supervisory board resolved to open a branch in Istanbul. This step was explained to the editorial board of Osmanischer Lloyd, a daily paper published in Istanbul in German and French, and which had just been formed with the Bank’s financial support, as follows: “Up to now the interests of Deutsche Bank have been represented by the management of the
Anatolian Railway Company, as a side function, as it were. Deutsche Bank’s decision to set up its own branch is connected with the political upheaval which has taken place in Turkey and which will undoubtedly be of great importance for the country’s economic and financial situation. The new regime established by the introduction of the constitution has removed the pressure of unliberty which has burdened the development of commerce up to now. Deutsche Bank’s step is a symbol of the hopes and good will felt by the German business world for the new regime.”
Deutsche Bank moved into the Ottoman Empire because they knew that war was coming, and that they stood to profit from it.
The Young Turks were a secular, liberal organization a-la the French liberalism of the 18th century, and viewed Islam with little difference than how men such as Robespierre and Diderot did of the Catholic Church. They sought to strip the role of religion from public life, elevating the concept of national identity over faith. This process involved taking the vast ethnicities of the Ottoman Empire and either “Turkifying” them into a “Turkish” national identity or, if they believed that a group could not be “Turkified”, to exterminate said group. The Christians were regarded as such a group, and in particular the Armenians and Pontic Greeks in Western Anatolia, as they sided with the Russians during the Russo-Turkish war and had voiciferously lobbied for independence for decades.
Abdulhamid’s overthrow in 1909 and the installation of Mehmed V was done with the purpose of solidifying the puppet-like role of the Sultan, meanwhile the Three Pashas- Talaat, Enver, and Djemal -took power four years later in the revolution of 1913 in order to drive Turkey further along the path of genocide, for as Talaat is reported has having said, “If I ever come to power in this country, I will use all my might to exterminate the Armenians.” (source).
Talaat Pasha was true to his promise, and while Mehmed V was the “face” of Ottoman Turkey, it was the Three Pashas who forced the Empire’s entrance into a formal alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary during the First World War, who sent the armies of Turkey to fight the British, French, and Americans, and who committed the massacres of the Christians. Following Turkey’s defeat, the nation went into a period of civil war from which came the modern Turkish Republic under Ataturk, and which has existed since then.
Enver Pasha (r) meeting with Kaiser Wilhelm II. The collusion between the two nations in the genocide is one of the greatest seldom spoken about scandals of the century.
As noted before, secularism was not the only cause, as Islam was involved as well. Enver Pasha carried a pocket Koran wherever he went, and spoke frequently of an “army of Islam” during his rule. Muslim passions were often incensed by the government to rouse the masses to their calls for violence. However, the violence done in Turkey was not solely from a zeal for Islam, but out of a combination of nationalism separate from Islam as well, resulting in what would seem to be an Islamo-Pagan union against Christianity, for while having different motivations, they were united by their hatred of Christ and a thirst for the blood of Christians in the pursuit of intoxication from power.
Thus it is of great concern today that one hears a vociferous Islam from Erdogan while at the same time a growing secularism and calls for secularism from the government, for this bears a strong semblance to the political situation leading up to the conditions that caused the First World War.
Turkey is not to be trusted. She is a historical ally of Germany and while she will accept help from the Russians, she will also turn on them. As Shoebat.com has noted, Turkey’s army, the eighth most powerful in the world, exists because of the US and Germany. One can be sure that both nations are going to make sure they get a “return” on their “investment” they put into her as a part of Gladio that endured for decades.
Do not be quick to praise Turkish secularism, for it is not an “answer” to Islam, but another devil who will lock hands with the Muslim one to bring never before seen wave of persecution to the world.