Modern Turkey and Ataturk

An Overview of Turkey and Ataturk

by Lewis Loflin

A few years ago I posted the below the general article on Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey. My interest in Ataturk (Mustafa Kemal) is because his views mirror many of my own. As an American Army veteran once stationed in Europe, I met a number of Turks in Germany. They were friendly and open to me, and were the only Muslims I ever knew to any personal degree. I had dinner with some Turkish families in Berlin, and often enjoyed their food at the little stands on Berlin streets.

I never gave any thought to Islam as such until after 911. They are proud people, mainly conservative Muslims, but not fanatics. Some were uncomfortable with German and Western culture, and wanted to retain theirs. But they liked the money they could earn and the ones I knew best wanted to save their money and move back to Turkey.

I later met some Turkish soldiers. They were much better educated, far more secular, and were just as proud of Turkey as those I met in Berlin. They spoke English well, while those in Berlin I had to communicate with in my rotten German versus their rotten German. The Turks did all the rotten jobs in Germany, the Germans often looked down on them.

They did the rotten jobs around the US Army bases, which is where I met some of them. I didn't smoke, they did and asked me to buy American cigarettes for them at the commissary. I did and sold them back at my cost on the condition it was for them and not for resale. They couldn't believe I didn't charge them anything for a profit, and that I didn't look down on them. I left the army in 1981 and still think of them as loyal friends to this day. Much of rural Turkey is poor as I was told. They were certainly better than many of the arrogant Germans I met.

Sadly, I regret that Turkey has a lot of problems from religious and ethnic bigotry and at best a dysfunctional democracy. While it might be "secular" it's treatment of Kurds and Christians is appalling. Worse, it's going down the path to Islamism. First, let's look at Ataturk, then we turn to Turkey today, 25 years later.

There's two types of Islamists: "radical" Islam, like the radical Left it patterns itself after, uses outright force and terror to overthrow a system it deems "un-Islamic." Moderate Islam, (an oxymoron like democratic socialism) works to overthrow the system legally from the inside by stealth. (Much like the neo-communists of the Left in the West.) The results are the same nonetheless: an end to individual freedom and individual rights.

Ref. Turizm.net:

ataturk

Ataturk and the Modernization of Turkey

Ataturk is the national hero of Turkey. He founded the modern Turkish Republic out of the ashes of the Ottoman Empire; an empire that is seen as the sick man of Europe at the turn of the century. His modern perspective created a new nation and a country, and a secular state understanding different from most other Islamic countries was introduced by him. Once you step in Turkey, you will see his statues and the busts all over. One of the best books written about Ataturk from a foreigner's point of view is the book titled " The Rebirth of a Nation" by Lord Kinross.

He was born in the year 1881 in Thessaloniki, within the Ottoman Empire's borders at that time, in Greece at present . His full name was Mustafa Kemal and the Ataturk surname, meaning the father of Turks, was given to him by the Turkish people (1934 November 24th.) in accordance with his reforms he has introduced to create a modern Turkish country.

His background is of military, and he served at various posts in the Ottoman army. In the First World War , he was the colonel in charge of Infantry at Gallipoli in 1915 and it is his genius defense tactics that did not give way to the allied forces ( British, French, Anzacs - Australians and New Zealanders and Senegalese) for the capture of Dardanelles and eventually Bosphorus.

His success and greatly growing reputation disturbed the capital and to keep him under control he was promoted to the Pasha ( General ) position. When the War ended the armies of the allied forces occupied nearly all corners of the country including Istanbul. Sultan and not a very small number of the public saw the hopeful future in the acceptance of either the British or American mandate.

Ataturk, however, had a very different vision from the many. He left Istanbul with a small boat, namely Bandirma ( a nice model of the boat to be seen at the Ataturk Museum in Ataturk's Mausoleum, Ankara), and stepping foot on Samsun, a coastal town in the Black Sea, on the 19th. of May 1919 ( later to be presented by Ataturk to the Turkish Youth as the Turkish Youth Day), the War of Independence started. He wanted Independence.

First with skirmishes , in time with proper army troops, Ataturk and his armies started fighting the enemy. Ankara was chosen to be Ataturk's headquarter for its central location and the seeds of a new country were planted there. He and his friends wanted to establish a Republic as opposed to the Monarchy. The War of Independence took some three years and by the end of the year 1922, all of the invaders had left the country. The Ottoman Sultan fled with a British boat. A new nation was starting to be born.

Ataturk's Revolutions

The Sultanete was abolished in 1922, November 1st.
The Republic was declared in 1923, October 29th.
The Caliphship was abolished in 1924, March 3rd.

Social Reformations

The hat as opposed to fez was introduced. (1925)
The activities of religious sects were banned by law. ( 1925)
Western calendar was introduced. ( 1925)
International numeric system was introduced. ( 1928)
The Metric system was introduced. (1931)
The nicknames and personal titles were abolished.  (1934)
Religious attire was prohibited in public (1934). According to this law, religious personalities, irrespective of the religious groups they belong were not to wear religious attire in public but only in their sanctuaries.
The surname law.( 1934)
The modern secular system of jurisprudence is instead of religious law is integrated.( 1926)
The liberation of the women of Turkey by giving them political and social rights.
a) Rights brought with medeni kanun ( 1926)
b) Rights for women to be elected for the parliament

Educational and Cultural Reformations

Unity in Education ( 1924 )
Introduction and the acceptance of the Roman alphabet. ( 1928 )
The foundation of Turkish History Institution
The foundation of Turkish Language Institution

The fact is Ataturk founded a democracy in Turkey. This is a secular republic based on Rule of Law and not the rule of religious fanatics and crazed mobs. Both religious fundamentalists and those with issues with Turkey over various territorial and ethnic complaints attack him as a dictator.

Ataturk instituted a series of reforms between 1923 (when he made Ankara the capital) and 1935 (when he made Sunday the weekly day of rest) that touched nearly all aspects of life and stand unique in history. In the course of a dozen years, Ataturk single-handedly changed the nature of his country, becoming personally involved in the details of the modernization process. At least this seemed so at first.

But as a democracy, it's dysfunctional to the extreme. Just because people might vote doesn't mean we don't get terrorists and tyrants elected to office such as Hamas. Here according to Mustafa Akyol (June 30, 2007), Next Monday, on July 2, a Turkish professor will be on trial in Izmir.

The prosecutor will ask the judges that he should be put in prison for three years for the crime he committed in the same city about six months ago. The alleged felony is not something like theft, robbery or fraud, though.

It is about "insulting Ataturk," Turkey's revered founder, and the accused is Dr. Atilla Yayla, who teaches political science at Ankara's Gazi University and who is also the founder of the Association for Liberal Thinking... As Akyol says of Yayla as the,

"most prominent advocate of classical liberalism in Turkey...therefore Dr. Yayla values political regimes according to the degree that they value freedom. And, for him, the period of High Kemalism (1925-46) accounts to a very illiberal era: Civil society was crushed and the state dominated virtually everything.

Even in the pre-Kemalist, i.e., Ottoman times, according to Dr. Yayla, Turkish society had more freedom...Kemalists - the dedicated followers of Mustafa Kemal - would offer a justification to this unpleasant reality.

"You first need to suppress freedom in order to create a modern society," they would probably say, "and Ataturk's long-term aim was to introduce liberty." Fair enough. But then they would need to explain why they are still against freedom seven decades after Ataturk..."

Ataturk was no classical liberal.

They are trying, sort of. An echo of this dramatic, driven overhaul is felt in the past two years, in the era of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his crushing parliamentary majority. Susan Sachs reports in the New York Times on the sweeping changes that have led to the rewriting of hundreds of laws and one third of the articles in the constitution to try to get into the European Union:

An avalanche of new laws, geared to bring the nation closer to European Union norms, has altered the way the state treats everything from police brutality and juvenile delinquents, to commercial transactions and industrial pollution. ... Turkey abolished the death penalty and the feared state security court.

It created intellectual property courts, consumer courts, juvenile courts and family courts. Treason was redefined, police powers limited, criminal penalties revised, trademark laws created and press laws revamped. In short, just about every field of law changed.

Even the most experienced lawyers and judges have found themselves cramming like first-year law students and signing up for training seminars while cases pile up by the tens of thousands at courthouses.

Laws aside, they must begin to deal with the culture, which blind multiculturalism continues to ignore. What the West and its idiotic elites and multiculturalists want is an Islam they can live with. There is no sign it's happening.

turkey, ataturk, islamism

Turkish PM Promises to Resign if No Clear Mandate Jul 19, 2007 The Media Line:

Update 2015: Erdogan and his party lost big in elections.

"Turkey's electorate goes to the polls on Sunday in a general election that could well determine the religious nature of life in the country. The election was called because of a constitutional crisis with the distinct possibility that the army would intervene to ensure the country remains true to its secular roots.

While modern Turkey's population is virtually entirely Muslim, it was created a century ago on the basis that there would be no mixing of politics and religion. Millions took to the streets of Turkey in recent months, protesting against the possibility that the next president would be Islamist. The ruling party then called elections and outgoing prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said this week, if he is not re-elected with a clear majority, he will step down."

Erdogan and his so-called moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) won by a landslide. The Turkish Dailey News (July 28) laments, "AKP's triumph jolts left and right...The opposition's move to foment a secular -- anti-secular debate appeared to be futile as the AKP victory will definitely lead to a rearrangement in the left and right."

This crushing victory gives this stealth Islamist party control of the country, except perhaps the military. The corrupt Left has itself to thank for this loss. One reason Islam is making such a rebound is because secular forces, in nearly every case using force and terror, has failed to makes lives of Muslims any better.

This election may have sealed the power of the Islamist AKP and its growing terrorist ties. It assisted Iran in shipping weapons through Turkey to Syria for Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon. They are forging closer ties with Syria and Iran and are involved in a reported $2 billion energy deal. But religious intolerance is widespread in Turkey as in all Muslim countries.

The following extracts from http://www.spiegel.de/international/spiegel/0,1518,411043,00.html SPIEGEL ONLINE - April 12, 2006

Christians are a vanishing minority in predominately Muslim Turkey. The murder of a priest in February shows that the situation has become precarious -- both for Catholics and for Turkey's EU bid...Father Andrea Santoro, was murdered in his church...Christians are a tiny, tolerated minority in Turkey, a country which is 99 percent Muslim. (Christians are advised) not to wear any visible symbols of their faith, such as a cross dangling on the outside of a blouse or shirt...

Turkey is still home to about 100,000 Christians. Their status is one of the barometers being used to determine Turkey's suitability for European Union membership, making the murder of Father Santoro especially inconvenient for the administration in Ankara, which is rooted in Islam but is doing its utmost to portray Turkey as tolerant and liberal-minded...Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül describes the murder as an "isolated case."

But isolated cases have been on the rise in Turkey...Shortly after the murder in Trabzon, nationalist youth attacked a Catholic priest in Izmir. They grabbed him by the neck and shouted: "We will kill you!" and "Allahu akbar! God is great!" The priest barely made it to safety. After the incident, police officers were routinely posted in front of the church in Izmir, a measure that had already been taken in other cities...

Turkey's Christian minorities had hoped that reforms introduced by the administration of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan -- as part of its effort to gain EU membership -- would not just lead to a few improvements, but to complete religious freedom. Although Christians are permitted to practice their faith freely, in many cases their churches have practically no rights and often have no claim to the property they stand on.

When Bishop Padovese requested work permits for two church employees in Trabzon, the interior ministry denied his request, arguing that because a Catholic Church doesn't exist in Turkey, it cannot file requests. "That's the paradox," says Padovese, "We are here, but legally we don't exist." It was not until recently that pastors, who were previously registered as consular employees, have been allowed to register as members of their own profession.

"The basic level of anti-Christian sentiment has increased," says Felix Korner, a German Jesuit whom the Vatican sent to Ankara to encourage a Christian-Islamic dialogue. Turkey's efforts to enter the EU have triggered nationalist counter-reactions...Even in educated circles, people are saying that Turkish unity and national sovereignty are in danger."

But this goes on in every Muslim country as Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, Bahai, etc. face death or at best legal limbo. But the murdered priest isn't all going on in Turkey.

April 26, 2007 TURKEY: Young Muslims Murder Three Christians In a gruesome assault against Turkey's tiny Christian community, five young Muslim Turks entered a Christian publishing office in the southeastern province of Malatya 18 April and slit the throats of the three Protestant Christians present. Two of the victims, Necati Aydin, 36, and Ugur Yuksel, 32, were Turkish converts from Islam.

The third man, Tilmann Geske, 46, was a German citizen. Today the Turkish press reported that four of the five young men, all 19 to 20 years of age, admitted during initial interrogations that they were motivated by both "nationalist and religious feelings." "We did this for our country," an identical note in the pockets of all five young men read, "They are attacking our religion."

Update:

Last Friday, a Turkish court postponed a trial until January for the brutal murder of three workers at a Christian publishing house this spring that caused shock and outrage in both Turkey and the European Union. The court agreed to delay legal procedure because the five defendants and their lawyers needed more time to prepare their defense.

The three Christians, two Turks and a German, had their throats slit after undergoing hours of torture by extremist youths who burst into their Bible publishing house in the eastern town of Malatya on 18 April. The attack was one of several recent ones on religious minorities in Turkey. (Sources: Reuters/IHC Nov. 27, 2007)

Extract Jan 19 2007 (Reuters) - A high-profile Turkish-Armenian editor, convicted of insulting Turkey's identity, was shot dead outside his newspaper office in Istanbul. Hrant Dink, a frequent target of nationalist anger for his comments on the Armenian Genocide by Ottoman Turks during World War One.

Erdogan told a hastily called news conference in Ankara...The attack is bound to raise political tensions in would-be EU member Turkey, where politicians of all parties have been courting the nationalist vote...Protesters outside the Agos office on one of Istanbul's busiest streets chanted "the murderer government will pay" and "shoulder-to-shoulder against fascism". Television footage showed Dink's body lying in the street covered by a white sheet...

In another report: On October 7, 2005 Hrant Dink was convicted under article 301 of the penal code of insulting Turkishness, charges that Dink said he would fight, adding that he would leave the country if they were not overturned. He was convicted and given a six-month suspended sentence, which means he will not be forced to serve prison time unless he repeats the offense.

Dink has lived in Turkey all his life and was shown on television in tears as he denied the charges and vowed to fight them...The court said Dink's article "was not an expression of opinion with the aim of criticizing but was intended to be insulting and offensive." Dink, speaking in Turkish, said the sentence was an attempt to silence him. Source: "Dink convicted of insulting Turkish identity", Turkish Daily News, Oct 8 2005

The English version of Dink's newspaper Agos (pay for) is at http://www.agos.com.tr/eng/index.php

This brings us back to a Armenian Massacre where the Ottoman Turks (or was it the Young Turks) killed as many as 2 million Armenians. Turkey denies that to this day and anyone in Turkey claiming this is true ends up jailed. This website at http://www.tallarmeniantale.com/Islam.htm denies this ever happened.

The following ref http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armenian_Genocide and http://www.armeniapedia.org/index.php?title=Armenian_Genocide

In 1908, the Ottoman Empire came under the control of the so-called "Young Turks". A secular movement aiming to restore "constitutional and parliamentary rule", the movement was welcomed by religious minorities throughout the Empire. In 1909, as the authority of the nascent Young Turk government splintered, Abdul Hamid II briefly regained his sultanate with a populist appeal to Islamism. 30,000 Armenians perished in the subsequent Adana Massacre.

The Young Turk leadership recovered from the Sultan's 1909 counter-coup. By this time, however, the Young Turk revolutionaries were already hardened in their distrust and resentment of Ottoman Christians. According to Erik Jan Zürcher of the University of Leiden,

"Living in the urban centers of the southern Balkans made this generation acutely aware of the increasing gap between the Christian bourgeoisie on the one hand and the Muslim middle class on the other. This gap was evident in education, with superior schools being established both by the non-Muslim communities themselves and by European missionary organizations...

The gap was also increasingly evident in the economy... The sons of the Muslim middle class... increasingly found their place in the state bureaucracy (which grew thirty fold in the Nineteenth Century) and the officer corps of the armed forces. As such, they were in a paradoxical situation: they represented the authority and prestige of the state, but at the same time they lived in relative poverty, wages often being in arrears for months if not years...

Young Turk memoirs show us very clearly how aware they were of the growing gap between Muslims and non-Muslims. Born in the traditional Muslim quarters they gazed in awe at the villas the Greek and Armenian industrialists built along newly laid-out avenues with tramways and streetlights.

The contrast defined their loyalties... The Young Turks developed a fierce Ottoman-Muslim nationalism, which defined the "other" very much in religious terms...[T]he Muslim - Non-Muslim divide would completely dominate politics and lead to the tragedies of the expulsion of Muslims from the Balkans and Greek-Orthodox from Anatolia, as well as to the wholesale slaughter of the Ottoman Armenians.

One of those "Young Turks" was Ataturk. The real problem it seems is that for many "Turkish" also seems to mean "Muslim." There's no place for Turkish Christians or Muslim Kurds. It's not as simple as "separation" of religion and state, but religion from culture unless the religion can reform and moderate its views. Muslims are not alone in religious violence nor is Turkey alone nationalist violence, but here we seem to have a possible fusion of the two today.

Like almost every Muslim country, income is low. The per capita income in 2006 was $9000.00 while in South Korea, bombed into the stone age in the 1950s, is $24,500. Even oil rich Saudi Arabia is only half the per-capita income of South Korea at $13,500.

As many as 1.6 million Turks work abroad, mostly Europe. Turkey hopes EU membership will open the gates of Europe to massive Turkish immigration and population movement. Next door in Greece the per capita income is $24,000. They at least beat Armenia at $5700.

Saudi Arabia has spent as much as $70 billion exporting its violent Wahhabi cult all over the world and controls most of the mosques and religious schools in the West and Pakistan. While Wahhabism is outlawed in Turkey, it's being spread by Turks exposed to it in Europe.

Most women face abuse in the east

Much of Turkey, in particular Eastern Turkey, is still backward and primitive Islamic. The following extracts are from August 2, 2006 Turkish Daily News. The results of the study did not paint a positive picture, noting that things became worse as one studied the state of women in rural regions. The study will be published in a book titled There Is Still a Lot to Do. I saw much of the isolation women were subjected to even in West Berlin in their self-imposed ghettos.

A poll conducted by the Van Women's Association (VAKAD) has shown in a study that 56 percent of all women interviewed in Van face physical abuse, noting that as the level of women's education increases the number who choose their own mate and marry of their own volition goes up as well. They surveyed 766 women between the ages of 15 and 60, 590 of whom were married.

The study showed that 42.7 percent of respondents had married through arranged marriages. Only university graduates decided who they would marry and none of them married their relatives. As the level of education drops, marriages with relatives increase in frequency.

56 percent of those questioned said they faced physical abuse, with 53 percent of married women being physically abused by husbands or mothers-in-law. The study showed 53.7 percent were abused by their husbands, 29.8 percent by their mothers-in-law, 13.3 percent by all adults in the family, 2 percent by their fathers-in-law and 1.2 percent by second wives.

Out of the 766 women polled 338 said they faced abuse outside the home, with 29.6 percent coming from boyfriends, 22.9 percent from bosses, 17.4 percent from teachers and 12.5 percent workmates. 83.5 percent of the women experienced emotional abuse, 66 percent verbal abuse, 56 percent physical abuse, 33.7 percent economic abuse and 14.7 sexual abuse. Just over 51 percent of these women were abused because they came home late.

49.5 percent of those questioned said they would not want to be born as women if they had the chance. The percentage of those who didn't want to be born as women increased with decreased education levels. Most illiterate women don't want to be born again as women.

The number of those who thought a woman without a man would find it hard to survive decreased with increased education, she said, adding, No university graduate agreed with the statement Housework is suitable for women'. 55.5 percent of those polled said no matter how much a woman worked outside, housework was still her responsibility. Fully 57.4 percent of those questioned said adultery was a crime and should be punished.

Be aware that rape under Muslim culture is considered adultery. If the girl or women is single, they can be killed for any number of reasons for family honor, including refusal to cooperate in arranged marriages. This was the case for a women in Sweden whose family came from rural Turkey.

Sufism

Turkey is 99% Sunni Muslim today or so they claim. It has a particular brand of Islam called Sufism. Unlike the more violent Saudi Wahhabism, it does seem much more tolerant of other beliefs, at least to those leftist' mystical types that promote it. (I see no evidence of this.) It is also attacked by other sects such as the Wahhabis. Here is some information on this subject. See SUFISM: The Deviated Path This is an article from an Australian Islamic magazine attacking Sufism for its "tolerance" of other beliefs. This is also a good look at how many Muslims think. They in particular single out Ataturk.

Since I put this page out I've gotten a number of e-mails claiming this or that Turkish atrocity. I had stumbled onto some Turkish history in my other studies on Israel and the Transylvanian Unitarians. These atrocities are alleged to have happened after WW1 and I'll address them here.

Greeks

http://www.HellenicGenocide.org This site alleges the Turks murdered all the Greeks in present day Turkey and cites the fact there are almost no Christians in Turkey. While it is true there's almost no Christians lefy in Turkey today, the same is true of Jews, but not for the reasons this website claims. Most of this bickering evolves around various Greek, Armenian, and Turkish nationalists. Like the mess surrounding Israel, appearances are deceiving. I'll address a number of these issues.

After WW1 the Ottoman Empire, that once covered modern Turkey, the Balkans, and the Middle East was being carved-up by various colonial powers. Turkey was under attack and being invaded by Greeks, Armenians, Russians, British, and the French. The British and French carved-up the Arab Countries into the modern states such as Iraq, "Palestine" (includes modern Israel, Jordan, West Bank, Gaza, and the Golon Heights), Syria/Lebanon (was chopped-up later to form Lebanon), etc.

Under the leadership Ataturk most of the invaders were repelled and he recovered most of the Turkish regions and part of Kurdistan. (The British stripped off the oil rich regions of Kurdistan and joined it to Arab Iraq.) By 1922 Turkey's borders stabilized to their present area. Under the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923, the exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey required approximately 1.5 million "Greeks" (often Christians Turks) living in Turkey to resettle in Greece, and approximately 500,000 "Turks" (often Greek Muslims) living in Greece to resettle in Turkey. The idea of identification of ethnic origins with a particular religion is plain wrong. Also note 20% of the population of Turkey is Kurdish.

Greece claimed that from 1916-1923 the Greek Orthodox population then living Pontus (eastern Black Sea) was exterminated by Turkish authorities. On February 24, 1994, the Greek Parliament adopted "19 May" as a "Day for Commemorating the Turkish genocide against the Pontus Greeks". Greece is still in a bitter dispute with Turkey over Cyprus leading the two NATO states into a state of near war. I don't believe the Pontus claim, and Greek is spoken by approximately 600,000 people in Turkey according to some sources. There's your Greeks, most are Muslims, many left during population exchanges under the Treaty of Lausanne. 1.5 million Christians went to Greece, 500,000 Muslims went to Turkey. Ref. Greek Muslims Wikipedia.

If I remember news reports correctly, 100,000 Bulgarian Turks/Muslims were expelled in the 1980s. Where were the human rights crowd on this?

Jews and Unitarians

Little known was the fact the Muslim Turks protected the Unitarian Christians of Hungary and Transylvania in a time when the Catholic Church was on a mass killing spree. They destroyed the Unitarians in Krakow Poland; the Unitarians of Transylvania appealed the Ottoman sultan for help. Unitarians like Muslims and Jews reject Paulism, the belief that Jesus was God (the Trinity), Original sin, etc. They held Jesus as human, a heretical view under Christianity of that time that got many burned at the stake. Today there's an estimated 100,000 Unitarians in Transylvania and 10,000 in Hungary. For more on the Unitarians see my page Unitarians and deistic Christians.God bless the Turks.

The Turks captured Constantinople in 1453 and changed the name to Istanbul. Athens fell in 1456 and they eventually took Serbia, Bosnia, Wallachia, Crimea were all under Ottoman control by 1478. They took modern day Romania and Hungary, went to the gates of Vienna in 1529. Christian Europe was terrified, but others welcomed the Turks.

When the Ottomans captured Bursa in 1324 and made it their capital, the Jews welcomed the Ottomans as saviors. Similarly, Jews expelled from Hungary in 1376, from France by Charles VI in September 1394, and from Sicily early in the 15th century found refuge in the Ottoman Empire. In the 1420s, Jews from Salonika then under Venetian control fled to Edirne. In 1470, Jews expelled from Bavaria by Ludvig X found refuge in the Ottoman Empire.

Sultan Bayazid II's offer of refuge gave new hope to the persecuted Sephardim. In 1492, the Sultan ordered the governors of the provinces of the Ottoman Empire "not to refuse the Jews entry or cause them difficulties, but to receive them cordially." According to Bernard Lewis, "the Jews were not just permitted to settle in the Ottoman lands, but were encouraged, assisted and sometimes even compelled". Jews introduced the printing press to Turkey.

Over the centuries an increasing number of European Jews, escaping persecution in their native countries, settled in the Ottoman Empire. In 1537 the Jews expelled from Apulia (Italy) after the city fell under Papal control, in 1542 those expelled from Bohemia by King Ferdinand found a safe haven in the Ottoman Empire. The proclamation of the Hatti Humayun in 1856, which made all Ottoman citizens, Moslem and non-Moslem alike, equal under the law. As a result, leadership of the community began to shift away from the religious leaders to secular forces.

In the 1880s Turkey continued encouraging Jewish immigration and made an agreement with the early Zionist movement to create a Jewish homeland in Palestine. After WW1 the region fell to British control and they were having no part of Jewish anything there. They incited conflict between Arabs and Jews, and installed a later convicted Nazi war criminal Haj Amin al-Husseini. (So-called Mufti of Jerusalem.) By 1948 the British had released scores of Bosnian and other European Nazis into the Middle East. When the Arabs attacked Israel in 1948, many were commanded by former Muslim European Nazis and even British officers for British ends. The British continued to protect the lackey Amin al-Husseini in Egypt and his nephew Yasser Arafat (an Egyptian) would head the terrorist Palestine Liberation Organization. For more on this issue see my page Islamic Fascism, Israel, and the American Left

As early as 1933 Ataturk invited numbers of prominent German Jewish professors to flee Nazi Germany and settle in Turkey. During World War II, Turkey served as a safe passage for many Jews fleeing the horrors of the Nazism, even under intense British pressure not to do so. While the Jewish communities of Greece and Yugoslavia were nearly wiped out by Hitler, the Turkish and Bulgarian Jews survived almost 100%.

In 1949 Turkey was the first Muslim state to recognize Israel. The terrorist bombings of banks and synagogues in Istanbul in 2005 was committed by Turks from Germany. They were the product of Saudi funded organizations (Wahhabism) that are outlawed in Turkey as I understand.

More from the CIA factbook

Modern Turkey was founded in 1923 from the Anatolian remnants of the defeated Ottoman Empire by national hero Mustafa KEMAL, who was later honored with the title Ataturk, or "Father of the Turks." Under his authoritarian leadership, the country adopted wide-ranging social, legal, and political reforms.

After a period of one-party rule, an experiment with multi-party politics led to the 1950 election victory of the opposition Democratic Party and the peaceful transfer of power. Since then, Turkish political parties have multiplied, but democracy has been fractured by periods of instability and intermittent military coups (1960, 1971, 1980), which in each case eventually resulted in a return of political power to civilians.

In 1997, the military again helped engineer the ouster - popularly dubbed a "post-modern coup" - of the then Islamic-oriented government. Turkey intervened militarily on Cyprus in 1974 to prevent a Greek takeover of the island and has since acted as patron state to the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus," which only Turkey recognizes.

A separatist insurgency begun in 1984 by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) - now known as the People's Congress of Kurdistan or Kongra-Gel (KGK) - has dominated the Turkish military's attention and claimed more than 30,000 lives.

After the capture of the group's leader in 1999, the insurgents largely withdrew from Turkey, mainly to northern Iraq. In 2004, KGK announced an end to its cease fire and attacks attributed to the KGK increased. Turkey joined the UN in 1945 and in 1952 it became a member of NATO. In 1964, Turkey became an associate member of the European Community; over the past decade, it has undertaken many reforms to strengthen its democracy and economy, enabling it to begin accession membership talks with the European Union.