Anti-Turkism

Anti-Turkism, also known as Turkophobia or Turcophobia, is hatred or discrimination towards Turkish people, their culture, their government, or their history (such as the Ottoman Empire or Seljuq Empire). They are mostly a collection of stereotypes and ethnic or religious hatred rooted by conflicts of the Turkish government or of the Ottoman Empire. Anti-Turkism originates usually from wars, propaganda, and differences in culture or religion.

History

After centuries of wars with Turkic nations, Europe began to form Anti-Turkist stereotypes; it was evident by dictionaries defining the word "Turk" as cruel, ferocious, or tyrannical.

Medieval Ages

Many publications in the Medieval Ages talked about a Turkish Threat to Europe because of their conquests in the Balkans and Eastern Europe.

The Byzantine Empire's decline was caused by the Seljuq Turks and so Crusades were initially triggered by Seljuq invasions into Asia Minor.

Bishop Fabri of Vienna made some unsettling Anti-Turkist comments portraying the Turks as villains and blood-thirsty murderers.

Philipp Melanchthon attributed the term Red Jews to the Turks, because they circumcised their sons and had many Jewish customs, and that they were red because they invaded nations.

During the Medieval Ages, the Turks tried to rid themselves of the name "Turk" and saw the term as a derogatory insult. They saw themselves not as Nomadic Turks, but as Ottoman subjects under the rule of the Sultan.

Arab Revolts

Lawrence of Arabia was a British official who worked with Arabs to cause rebellion in Arabia; he successfully played a role in spreading Anti-Turkism in Arabia to incite revolution among the Arabs. During this time, Lawrence claimed he was raped by a Turkish soldier, which was later proven to be wrong. The film Lawrence of Arabia was protested in Turkey.

World War I

In the 19th century, William Ewart Gladstone talked about Britain's active role in Anti-Turkism for the purpose of getting the United States into World War I. Funded by the British Foreign Office, The British Blue Book "The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire" was published by Arnold Toynbee (author of Armenian Atrocities: The Murder of a Nation) and Lord James Bryce (author of Report of the Committee on Alleged German Outrages).

The reality is, the Germans were exploiting stories of mistreatment of Jews by the Russians and using it to support the Central Power ideology. The British worried that this propaganda would cause the Jewish-Americans in the United States to be against the war and will not support the Allies. Arnold Toynbee, recalls as a result of German propaganda, the British created propaganda about Ottoman mistreatment of Armenians, labeling them as atrocities.

Armenian Genocide Anti-Turkism

Recognition of the Armenian Genocide, which undermines the Turkish victims of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation is a form of Anti-Turkism.

One should note that the events dealing with Ottomans and Armenians are in dispute by widely recognized historians and only since the 1990s has research really started on the issue because of the opening of Turkish-Ottoman archives in Istanbul, Turkey.

Since then, new research has made the issue a controversial topic. If one were to identify the events as genocide by the Ottomans, they will be presenting Anti-Turkist views and undermining the deaths of thousands of Turks who died during that time. If one were to identify the Turkish deaths as genocide, one would be presenting Anti-Armenian views because they would undermine the Armenian victims of the era. It should be accepted that the era was a tragedy for both sides and should let historians conclude whether genocide occurred or did not occur, because research on the issue is not complete and a conclusion cannot be reached currently.

It seems as though every April 24th, when Armenians celebrate their "Armenian Genocide Memorial Day", it seems to ignite a frenzy of Anti-Turkism and hatred. Instead of Armenians marching to mourn their ancestors who died in ethnic conflict, many seem to choose to protest using hatred towards Turkey, the Turkish government, or the Turkish people. Slogans such as "Turks = Nazi" and "Eastern Turkey is Western Armenia" seem to be common during these protests at the Turkish embassy.

There is a story of an Armenian-American overcame his Anti-Turkist sentiment when he traveled to Turkey.

Anti-Turkism Image Gallery

Regionally

Anti-Turkism can differ by region; sometimes the inhabitants of a nation have different cultural interactions with Turks.

Europe

Europe's Anti-Turkism is rooted mostly in the Siege of Vienna, when the Ottomans had been the front of Islamic invasions of Europe for centuries and immigration of Turkish laborers from Turkey to nations like Germany and Belgium. The Turks were portrayed for centuries as a European Scourge or the "Anti-Christ". They were described as barbarians, murderers, Mongols, or blood-thirsty fiends.

The fact that most of the people in the lands that Ottomans conquered and held for centuries still hold their own original languages, cultures, ancient buildings, and religions though, shows that the Ottomans and Turks before them did not try and force their culture, language, and religion on their conquered subjects. This is why the Balkans, North Africa, and Arabian Peninsula are such a diverse ethnic region. It is interesting to note that nations in these regions do not speak Turkish. The fact that the Muslim population in the Balkans is such a fraction of the Christian population also shows that very few individuals in these regions needed to convert to Islam (even though there was a tax incentive to do so).

In contrast, one can compare the conquests of the Arabic dynasties, the British Empire, the French Empire, or Russian Empire, which would evidently show that regions conquered by the aforementioned nations did indeed change their language, education, culture, and religion as well. Key examples of this are: India, South Africa, Steppe nations, and the Eastern European nations conquered by Russians.

Some historians point to the cause of many conflicts currently in regions like the Middle East and the Balkans as a consequence of British "divide and conquer" strategy applied to the Ottoman Empire.

Other forms of Anti-Turkism in Europe is related to labor forces of Turkey immigrating to Europe as a result of European policies of welcoming different ethnicities for their declining labor force. One explanation is that poor and lower-middle class families of Turkey immigrating to Europe caused stereotypes to form that can occur with any population that comes from less wealthy and less educated families. In addition, many nations mislabel Turks as Kurds and Kurds as Turks and thus sometimes Anti-Turkism and Anti-Kurdism seem to become combined or the actions of a certain ethnicity affected the other.

The main root of Anti-Turkism in Europe though seems to be the on the basis that Turks are predominately Islamic and Europe is predominately Christian.

Another form of Anti-Turkism is criticism of Turkish laws and human rights based on Anti-Turkist sources which have motives of spreading hatred because of Anti-Turkist sub-cultures formed in certain ex-Ottoman Christian societies.

Sometimes double standards play a role, like the criticism of Article 301 of Turkey being labeled as against freedom of speech when identical laws exist in European nations. Another example of this Anti-Turkist double standard is the extremely difficult circumstances created to block Turkey's access into the European Union.

North America

In North America, the form of Anti-Turkism seems to be the recognition of the alleged Armenian Genocide.

In the United States Anti-Turkism is very small, but some researchers point to the large Armenian-American community as having members that promote Anti-Turkism based on the recognition of the alleged Armenian Genocide. Otherwise Armenian-Americans and Turkish-Americans have a very similar culture and other than that, they get along quite well.

There was some Anti-Turkist venting going on when the Turkish parliament refused to give access to the United States to use Turkey as a base for the invasion to Iraq in 2003.

Los Angeles seems to have one of the largest Armenian populations in the world, it is also where many Armenian National Committee members committed terrorism against Turks back in the 1980s.

Canada has pursued a direct Anti-Turkist policy of recognizing the Armenian Genocide and even implementing School courses designed to teach Anti-Turkist history. Recently though, the Toronto School Board has removed certain propaganda books from it's course design and has included mention of scholars and historians who dispute the Armenian Genocide but continues to call the alleged events as genocide.

The story of Alex Demir, a Hollywood actor who has had difficulty finding work in Hollywood as an actor seems to indicate Anti-Turkist tensions inside the film industry.

Alex Demir's Story

Middle East

Anti-Turkism in the Middle East seems to stem from Turkish Secularism and the Turkish people's interest in reforming Islam. Many extremists in the Middle East regard Turks as "cursed" because they do not believe in the strict interpretation of Islam.

Recently, the Saudi Arabian government tried a Turkish barber, and will be sentencing him to death for allegedly cursing to God. A defense lawyer or translator was not even provided to the accused.

Pop Culture

  • Lawrence of Arabia portrayed the Turks as unshaven evil soldiers who enjoyed torture and had a tendency of oppressing other ethnicities or fellow Muslims. Historically, the tensions between Arabs and Turks had mostly due to differences in religious goals and beliefs. Once the Arabs coupled their more strict interpretation of Islam with the rise of Arab nationalism and promises by the British government to Arab leaders for revolting led to full Arab revolution.
  • Midnight Express was an Anti-Turkist and Anti-Homosexual movie directed by Oliver Stone. Midnight Express was based on the book of the same name that was written by Billy Hayes, an American who was arrested by Turkish authorities for smuggling hash in an airport and spent a long time in a Turkish prison. Billy Hayes in an interview said that the director twisted the theme of the book, which was to not smuggle drugs, into a movie about Anti-Turkism and the horrors of a Turkish prison. The movie portrayed Turks as constant hookah smokers, criminals, and the portrayal of Istanbul was presented as a third-world city. The main character and his family consistently called the Turks "pigs". In the movie, Billy Hayes was raped by Turkish guards, even though the book did not mention rape. Turks in the movie were all portrayed as evil villains who had sadistic and homosexual intentions. It is interesting to note, that many of the actors were Greek and Armenian, and none of the scenes were filmed in Turkey. Oliver Stone has since apologized for the Anti-Turkism in the movie.
  • Lolita was a 1962 movie where a character in the movie mentions that one of the worst things to happen to a person is to be a Turk.
  • The Simpsons "Mobile Homer" episode had Anti-Turkist scenes, where Turks are portrayed as oil tanker sailors who constantly smoked hashish and at the end of the episode Homer shouts at the ship "Bring back our children, you Cyprus-splitting jerks!". Turkish Cypriots as well as Turks took offense to this episode.