Turkey: Thousands Mourn Bin Laden, Condemn America

An ugly phenomenon is on display in today's Turkey, supposedly modern and securlar, but in fact re-Islamifying at a rapid pace.  As reported by YNET:

Thousands participated in a funeral ceremony for assassinated Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Istanbul on Friday, following Muslim burial rites but not including an actual burial...."The US, UK and Israel are the murderers of the martyr," the participants chanted. "The US is the terrorist, bin Laden is the warrior." The mourners carried pictures of bin Laden and signs condemning his assassination, and called the man who planned the September 11, 2001, terror attacks that killed thousands of Americans "a beautiful, wise man, a warrior for Islam." The mourners, who gathered near Istanbul's Fatih Mosque...burned Israeli, American and British flags, and prayed facing a stone bench that traditionally holds the body of the deceased.

Professor Uriel Heyd (d. 1968), a serious and intellectually honest scholar of both Ottoman and Republican Turkey, described Turkey's tenuous secularization and aggressive re-Islamization more than 40 years before some of today's "learned analysts" have finally come to the same pathetically belated realization.

Here are some of Heyd's remarkably prescient insights, all the more unique given his self-criticism for being "slow" to appreciate changes already clearly apparent-wait for it-circa 1968!

For six centuries the Ottomans devoted their main efforts to the jihad, the holy war against Christendom... The Ottoman State was the last great Muslim empire in history; its ruler was recognized by Sunni Muslims as the caliph of all true believers. In no other Muslim state of importance was the Sharia, the holy law of Islam, so firmly established and were the men of religion, the ulema, given so influential a place in government and public administration...When from the late eighteenth century onwards the Ottoman sultans began introducing Westernizing reforms, most of the leading ulema for various reasons supported them, while the men of religion in the lower ranks by and large strongly and violently opposed their measures. The fight for and against modernization and secularization has been going on in the Turkish state and society ever since.

When Ataturk died in 1938, many people believed that he had not only succeeded in transforming Turkey into a modern secular state but that Islam was doomed as a vital force in Turkish social and cultural life. It soon, however, became manifest that this judgment was premature, if not altogether wrong...A new phrase in the retreat from secularism opened with the victory of the Democratic Party in the general elections of May 1950. Significantly, one of the first measures of the new government headed by Adnan Menderes was to permit again the ezan, the call to prayer from the minarets, to be delivered in Arabic...In the following years the Turkish Government made further concessions to conservative public opinion.

Ataturk's secular reforms had not penetrated very deeply into the religious masses of the urban and particularly the rural population. Their political consciousness and influence has been constantly growing since the establishment of a multi-party regime and as a result of the economic development of the village and especially of the small town, the traditional center of religious conservatism...Turkish nationalism and Western civilization, the two main pillars of Ataturk's cultural orientation, have proved incapable of filling, even for many educated Turks, the spiritual vacuum created by the elimination of Islam.

Until a few years ago many foreign observers, including, I admit, myself, were inclined to think that this development [Turkey's re-Islamization] was no more than a renewed expression of sentiments which for a long time could not be freely manifested and that the overall process of secularization was going on very slowly but irresistibly. Today I doubt whether this view is still tenable.

...This survival and -if my interpretation is correct-revival of Islam in Turkey, the most secular of all Muslim countries, are obviously a fact of great significance for the future in the modern world.

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