Skip to comments.A Turkish View - Radical Islam's Quandry
Posted on 10/29/2001 6:50:33 PM PST by Shermy
Radical Islam's quandary
Those who believe in monotheistic religions have very powerful individual and collective identities. Of course, possessing a powerful collective identity is not always related to having identity crises or not. Just as a powerful body can still fall ill, so someone with a strong sense of identity can still be hit by an identity crisis. This is an unavoidable universal phenomenon presumably faced by individuals and communities alike. We all face one kind of identity crisis or other all the time. Perhaps then identity crises are all part of "development"? What we must avoid is this crisis becoming deep.
The fact that Muslims have fallen behind or have been defeated in the struggle against the competing religion, Christianity, are among the reasons that exacerbate their identity crisis. As the successors to the Ottomans, we Turks know very well what this means. The historian Toynbee explains that the losing side in a fight against a superior civilization will react in one of two ways: It will either accept the basic tenets of the advanced civilization or it will insist on staying backwards. The first is known as "Herodian" after the Jewish King Herod, who saw he could resist the superiority of the Roman Empire; the second is called "zealotry" and means fanaticism. What is expected in the first case is an identity crisis created by renouncing the basic tenets of one's own identity; in the second case what is expected is death in the struggle as they fail to overcome their backwardness. In fact, the second case is also a form of identity crisis. One can understand this from the way they accept a war in which they know they will surely lose.
Turkey is an example of the first category, while Arab/Muslim political and radical Islam are of the second.
Radical Islamic elements that resort to terrorism take their strength from the religion that was the basis of a former civilization. Religion converges with nationalism at this point and becomes a servant of nationalist aims.
Turkey first encountered this phenomenon with the Balkan Christians' struggle for independence. Christian Orthodox belief in Ottoman times sheltered and protected all the identity characteristics of those communities bound to it. When the time came for independence, it became impossible to distinguish Greek, Serbian and Bulgarian nationalism from religion. Religion contained nationalism in this struggle and as a system of universal values that kept extreme nationalism in check lost its raison d'etre. In fact, it even sanctified going to extremes. This is why millions of Turkish and Muslim civilians were murdered during the Balkan wars. This phenomenon is what lies behind the Greek Orthodox Church of today still being extremely nationalist and why the Greek political regime has not been fully secularized. Balkan countries that fell under communism have made religion out of the ideology. Not even they became truly secular.
The relation between nationalism and the land, called the motherland, was late appearing in Muslim societies. Namik Kemal's book "Either Motherland or Silistre" has formed our starting point here towards the end of the 19th century. The fight for the motherland in the War of Liberation became the fundamental approach of the Turkish nation-state. Despite the wording of the National Anthem, Ataturk's nationalism did not unite religion with the concept of motherland.
As for the Arabs in the Palestinian struggle; they have united with religion not only the concept of nationalism but also that of territory/motherland much like the Balkan peoples did in the fight for independence without having a state. The Palestinian struggle Such an amalgamation gIves a fighting strength to Palestinians incomparable to that shown by the Ottomans in the defense of their empire. Not even the Palestinians remain down in the fight with Israel, which occupies the same moral ground but has superior weaponry.
Now, that same amalgamation in the hands of the likes of Bin Ladin is being turned into an effective means of terrorism. A terrible mechanism of kill or be killed for a specific cause, which is clear from the start can neither be won nor benefit progress.
The current home page of the Turkish Daily News has a new link about Kamal Ataturk. Click "Long Live the Republic." Contains pic of Ataturk in top hat and tails.
Well stated. Thanks.
I disagree with that statement. The Jews are above the palestinians on the moral playing field. They don't teach their children to hate Christians and palestinians, nor do they suicide bomb innocent civilians--they hit military targets.
Nor do the Israelis teach their children to do the same...
They hate Jews more than the love their own children. Better that they attach a thousand pound milstone around their neck....
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