The Anatolians are coming

Mustafa Akyol
Mustafa Akyol


Date posted: October 13, 2011

Mustafa Akyol / Wednesday, October 5, 2011

If you want to get an idea of how much Turkish civil society has flourished recently, just visit this address on your browser: www.anatolianfestival.org. It is the website of the “Anatolian Cultures and Food Festival” that will be held this upcoming weekend in Costa Mesa, California. Probably the largest nongovernmental “Turkish event” so far in the United States, it is quite impressive. In a huge area expected to be visited by tens of thousands, icons of Turkish culture will be displayed via impressive installations, concerts, conferences and eateries.

I emphasized the civil society aspect of this big event, for it is organized by none other than the “Hizmet” (Service) movement, which is inspired by the teachings of Fethullah Gülen, Turkey’s most influential spiritual leader. As the promoter of an interpretation of Islam that is theologically conservative, politically moderate and culturally tolerant, the Gülen Movement, as it is also sometimes called, has become gradually global since the early 1990s and has opened hundreds of schools and other institutions around the world.

I know that the very concept of a “Muslim movement” is toxic to some ears these days, as any inspiration from Islam is supposed to be inherently authoritarian, intolerant and even violent. But the Gülen Movement seems to be the perfect antidote to that misperception. Their thought excludes the calls for an “Islamic state” and rather seeks religious freedom under the secular state. Their works focus on not challenging the West, Israel, or other “infidels,” but rather raising pious individuals who are hoped to be exemplary figures for Islam. And they look at other religions not as enemies, but as different shades of the same truth.

Some of the talks scheduled in the Anatolian Festival underline this ecumenical vision of the Gülen Movement. One of the titles reads “Cultural Legacy of Armenians in Anatolia and in the Ottoman Empire.” Another one is about “The Scriptural Foundations of Muslim-Jewish Dialogue and Coexistence in Muslim and Jewish Sacred Texts.” I, too, will give two talks there on the weekend about “the exceptional story of Turkish Islam” as a part of my three-week-long book tour in the United States.

This inclusion of the Armenian and Jewish cultures in the “Anatolian” concept is worth pondering, for it tells something about the cultural codes of some of the makers of “New Turkey” and how they differ from the codes of “old” (i.e., Kemalist) Turkey.

In fact, the term “Anatolian” was used as a derogatory term by the Kemalists for decades. They regarded themselves as enlightened urbanites, whereas they saw the Anatolians as parochial masses kept ignorant by religion.

However, the “modernity” of the Kemalists was defined by a zealous Turkish nationalism, which rested on a nasty history of Turkey’s “Turkification.” The ethnic cleansing of the Ottoman Armenians by the secular Young Turks, Atatürk’s “population exchange” with Greece and the military’s forceful assimilation of the Kurds were all manifestations of the same monist paradigm.

The Anatolia-based conservatives were partly influenced by this century-long paradigm, too. But their very cultural conservatism helped them preserve some “Ottoman” values and helped them grow more respectful to the non-Turkish cultures of Turkey, ranging from Armenians to Greeks, or from Jews to Kurds. (That can’t be said for the whole Islamist movement, unfortunately, for their political reaction to Israel misleads some of them to anti-Semitism.)

That is why those who believe in pluralism should welcome the coming of the Ottoman-minded “Anatolians” – and I mean not just to the Los Angeles area this weekend, but also to the Turkish Republic of this century.

Source: Hurriyet Daily News http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=the-anatolians-are-coming-2011-10-05


Related News

Public Enemy No. 1: A Visit with Fethullah Gülen, Erdogan’s Chief Adversary

In a meeting at his compound in Pennsylvania, Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen defends himself against claims made by Turkey’s president that he was behind this weekend’s failed coup. He alleges that power has poisoned Erdogan.

Remarks by Congressman Randy Weber (Representing Texas) at IFLC Washington DC

International Festival of Language and Culture – IFLC 2016 Remarks by Congressman Randy Weber (Representing Texas) IFLC Washington DC

Flynn stopped military plan against ISIS that Turkey opposed – after being paid as its agent

One of the Trump administration’s first decisions about the fight against the Islamic State, ISIS, was made by Michael Flynn weeks before he was fired – and it conformed to the wishes of Turkey, whose interests, unbeknownst to anyone in Washington, he’d been paid more than $500,000 to represent.

Commentary: Abuses rampant in wake of Turkish coup

We don’t know a lot. But what we do know should cause us to ask our elected officials to look carefully at any request for extradition for Fethullah Gulen. We don’t know everything, but we know that the post-coup crackdown has included public appeals “to be protected from the evil things of educated people.” Nearly 60,000 have been detained. Some 1,600 university academic deans have been relieved of their positions.

Turkish charities dedicate well in Uganda to James Foley

The charity Kimse Yok Mu (Is Anybody There?) and the Embrace Relief aid foundation, founded by Turks residing in the US, have jointly constructed a water well in Uganda dedicated to the memory of James Foley, an American journalist killed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Reflections on Hizmet Movement at conference in Taiwan

The Formosa Institute held an international conference on “The Hizmet Movement and the thought and teachings of Fethullah Gulen: contributions to multiculturalism and global peace” at National Taiwan University (NTU) this weekend. The conference aimed to explore the impact of the Hizmet movement on education, dialogue and peace, with a focus on transcending traditional boundaries […]

Latest News

Crimes Against Humanity in Erdogan’s Turkey

Exiled journalist warns of a genocide in the making in newly released book

Vague terrorism charge used to target supporters of the Gülen movement: UN special rapporteurs

ECtHR urges Albania not to deport Gülen follower to Turkey

Woman detained over links to Gülen movement after giving birth

Formerly Gülen-linked schools in Albania face growing gov’t pressure

Exclusive: Turkey, Kosovo violated fundamental rights of expelled teachers, UN body says

Sacked policeman’s grim death sparks debate on COVID-19 data in Turkish prisons

Dissidents of the Turkish government are living in fear in Canada

In Case You Missed It

Extraditing Gülen: A smart move for the PM?

[Alleged] “Coup leader” Gülen’s friendships with the Catholic Church

New Jersey’s Peace Islands Institute Holds Iftar At Community Center

Gulen calls for new constitution in Turkey

Fethullah Gülen: ‘I don’t have any regrets’

“The Blessed” Day of the Pakistani Orphans

Kimse Yok Mu helps 2 mln people across the world during Ramadan

Copyright 2021 Hizmet News