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The University of Utrecht April 2nd, 2007 The Minority Concept in Ottoman Empire and Turkey Baskin Oran

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Presentation on theme: "The University of Utrecht April 2nd, 2007 The Minority Concept in Ottoman Empire and Turkey Baskin Oran"— Presentation transcript:

1 The University of Utrecht April 2nd, 2007 The Minority Concept in Ottoman Empire and Turkey Baskin Oran

2 2 Definitions of “Minority”  “A non-dominant group, different from the majority”.  Definition in the Ottoman Empire: None. Instead, the “Millet System”  Definition in Turkey: “Non-Muslim citizens of Turkey”.  Purpose of this presentation: To inquire into the roots of this definition and analyze Turkish society today.

3 Baskin Oran3 International Protection of Minorities and The Ottoman Empire  After solving the minority issue in W. Europe, European Powers finally turned to the non-Muslims of the Ottoman Empire. This also permitted them to squeeze to the corner, in the process of “solving” the Eastern Question, the (once) terrible enemy.  The minority regime in the Empire (The Millet System) facilitated this intervention.

4 Baskin Oran4 Minority Concept in the Ottoman Empire - The “Millet System” The Millet System (“Millet”= Religious Community) “Millet-i Hakime” (The Dominant Millet) (All Muslims regardless of ethnic origin) “Millet-i Mahkume” (The Dominated Millet[s]) (Non-Muslims organized into autonomous communities but as second-class subjects)

5 Baskin Oran5 The Millet System and Muslim Mentality  Rise of nationalist movements (1821 onwards)  Millet System obsolete  Officially abolished in 1839 by the Tanzimat reforms.  But stayed deep-rooted in Muslim mentality which strongly reacted to being equal with the “despised” non-Muslims. Ex. Kurds and Alevis today: “We are not minority. We are the constituent and essential elements of the State”.

6 Baskin Oran6 Minority Concept in Republican Turkey:  Western concept of equality adopted: Reception of the Swiss Civil Code in 1926: “All citizens are equal under law”  On the other hand, the Millet System codified: Lausanne Peace Treaty, Section Three, Protection of Minorities: “Positive minority rights under international protection” accorded to non-Muslims only.

7 Baskin Oran7 Application of Human and Minority Rights in Turkey  “The atmosphere” of the 1930s: “Turkification” policies (and capital transfer from the non-Muslim to the Muslim bourgeoisie): 1923, 1927, 1932, 1934, 1941, 1942, 1955, Until the end of 1940s: “To be of real Turkish race” Until the end of 1940s: “To be of real Turkish race” : “Domestic Foreigners (Turkish citizens)” : “Domestic Foreigners (Turkish citizens)” Until February 2007: “Turkish citizen of Turkish origin”. Until February 2007: “Turkish citizen of Turkish origin”. 2006: State Supervisory Council report: “Foreign foundations”. 2006: State Supervisory Council report: “Foreign foundations” : The “1936 Declaration” : The “1936 Declaration” Refusal to apply: “All Turkish nationals have a right to use any language they wish in commerce, in public and private meetings and in all types of press and publication” (L., 39/4). Refusal to apply: “All Turkish nationals have a right to use any language they wish in commerce, in public and private meetings and in all types of press and publication” (L., 39/4).

8 Baskin Oran8 Description of the Present Situation Description of the Present Situation  Dominant Nation (“Muslim”)  “Muslim Turkish”.  But mentality remains unchanged: “Non-Muslims are second-class citizens”.  Additional negativity: “Non-Muslims are foreigners’ tools”.  Mentality aggravated by “Sèvres Paranoia” (= Islamophobia in Europe).  This paranoia nowadays results in: Lynching and killing human rights activists, Lynching and killing human rights activists, Condemning them in tribunals, Condemning them in tribunals, Replacing freedom of speech with the “freedom to insult”. Replacing freedom of speech with the “freedom to insult”.

9 Baskin Oran9 Analysis of the Present Situation -1 What is Happening? - Turkey is finally changing track, a second time in its history. It is burying the Millet System. It is burying the Millet System. Old and new versions, both. Old and new versions, both. - The 1st modernizing Revolution From Above: Kemalism (1920s). From Above: Kemalism (1920s). The 2nd: EU Reform Packages (2000s). The 2nd: EU Reform Packages (2000s). Ottoman 1st Revolution From Above (1920s) 2nd Revolution From Above (2000s) Semi -Feudal EmpireNation-state(monist)DemocraticState UmmaNation (“homogenous”) Nation(pluralist) SubjectCitizen(compulsory)Citizen(voluntary)

10 Baskin Oran10 Analysis of the Present Situation-2 The “Minority Report”  October 2004: Prime Ministery`s Consultative Council on Human Rights Report - The “Supra Identity” issue: Ottoman  Turk  Turkiyeli Ottoman  Turk  Turkiyeli Turk = LAHASUMUTTurk = LAHASUMUT Turkiyeli = The end of the Millet System.Turkiyeli = The end of the Millet System.

11 Baskin Oran11 Analysis of the Present Situation -3 Why is it Happening This Way?  Turkey has accomplished in 80 years what Europe has done in centuries. Speed increases fuel consumption, involves more risk. Speed increases fuel consumption, involves more risk. Revolutions From Above/Outside have created their own reactions. Revolutions From Above/Outside have created their own reactions.  Globalization is scaring even European national identities. Ex. French and Dutch EU constitution referenda.  Issues swept under the carpet for decades now pop-up like zombies and contribute to the Sèvres Paranoia (Kurdish, Islamist, Cyprus, Armenian, etc.).

12 Baskin Oran12 Analysis of the Present Situation -4 Despair and Hope  The parameters and actors have changed in an unbelievable way, only witnessing the rattling rate of the Turkish society: 1920s 2000s Kemalism EU Reform Packages Kemalism EU Reform Packages         Religious Reaction “Sèvres Paranoia”


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