Turkey embraces Islamist and Ottoman identities

Two newspaper articles recently caught my eye:

  1. “Erdogan's order making Hagia Sophia mosque brings cheers, mourning”
  2. Turkey expels Protestant missionaries for ‘threatening public order’”

These news items must send an alarm signal to all who are interested in what is happening in Turkey under the rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. They reveal that Erdogan feels himself now strong enough to publicly declare the end of the Turkish secular state system founded by Kamal Ataturk in the 1920s, and the culmination of his long process of Islamisation and Ottomanisation.

Christian mosaics, frescoes and icons in the Hagia Sophia Cathedral will be covered with curtains during Islamic prayer times when the celebrated Christian landmark reopens as a mosque on 24 July

Christian mosaics, frescoes and icons in the Hagia Sophia Cathedral will be covered with curtains during Islamic prayer times when the celebrated Christian landmark reopens as a mosque on 24 July

For Christians in Turkey the warning is that the Turkish state will now officially undertake their suppression and persecution to guarantee their subordination as dhimmis subordinate to Islamic rule. No more dreams of equality, religious freedom, restitution of church properties and other chimeras floated when Erdogan first became Prime Minister in 2002. At that time, he seemed to offer a liberal democratic order of freedom and equality to all minorities in Turkey: Kurds, Alevis, Christians and others. He used this as a veil to hide his programme of ever accelerating Islamisation of Turkey as he weakened the bastions of secularism in the army, media and judicial system, while defeating his erstwhile Muslim allies of the Gulen movement to emerge as the undisputed ruler of an Islamist and neo-Ottoman Turkish state system.

We can now expect Turkey to follow the example of Pakistan in subordinating the Turkish legal system to sharia while encouraging ever more extreme versions of Sunni Islamism in Turkey and abroad, using radical militant movements as proxies in achieving its political goals while destabilising neighbouring states in Europe and the Middle East and North Africa.

On the international scene these developments mean that Turkey is now an Islamist state hostile to what it sees as the Christian West (mainly Europe and the USA). Its foreign policy is reverting to the traditional expansionist Islamic-Ottoman model in which jihad was the foreign policy of the state which launched annual military expeditions against Christian Western Europe in the Balkans and Central Europe. Turkish military interventions in north Iraq, north Syria and Libya are part of this process of seeking influence in former Ottoman provinces. We can also expect ever increasing Turkish pressures on Greece and Cyprus as Turkey appropriates the right to drill for gas in their sovereign waters. Turkey will also intensify its support for Islamist movements in European states, especially for the Muslim Brotherhood affiliated movements. Turkey has also declared its growing hostility to Israel as it seeks to liberate Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa mosque from Israeli rule, thus increasing its legitimacy in Muslim eyes and competing with Shia Iran for the mantle of leader of the Islamic world.

Dr David Zeidan


Turkey