His Majesty’s reincarnation
“[He was the man who] exerted effective control over the fracturing state.
“[He had an] attraction to absolutism.
“[Under his rule he used] the secret police to silence dissent.
“[He had a] worsening paranoia about perceived threats to his personal power and his life.
“[In his early days in power, his ideological doctrine defended a] new form in its theoretical space [that] could help to realize a liberal transition with Islamic arguments … Most people expected [him] to have liberal ideas … [but while] appearing as a liberal leader, [he] became increasingly conservative immediately after taking [power].
“[He] tried to take more of the reins of power into his own hands, for he mistrusted his ministers.
“[He] was paranoid about his security … Because of this, information was tightly controlled and the press was tightly censored. The curriculum of schools was subject to close inspection to prevent dissidence. Ironically, the schools that [he] tried to control became ‘breeding grounds of discontent’ as students and teachers alike chafed at the clumsy restrictions of the censors.
“[His] reign also had a fully functioning state spy system. These spies greatly impeded the operation of the state administration as officials were in constant concern that a false report would be filed against them … Overall, these spies hampered the functioning of the state and potential reform ideas as people were afraid of being reported.
“He was afraid of having any organization or individual impinge on his level of power. In response to this fear, he began to … restrict political and civil rights further.
“He concentrated much of the administration of the [state] into his own hands at [his] Palace.
“As the goal of the educational reforms [under his rule] was to counter foreign influence, [the] secondary schools utilized European teaching techniques, yet instilled within students a strong sense of Ottoman identity, ‘Islamic morality’ and loyalty to the [leader]. The primary goal of these educational reforms was to Ottomanize the education system.
“He tried to [reformulate] an ideological principle: Pan-Islamism … [He] usually resisted the pressure of the European powers to the last moment, in order to seem to yield only to overwhelming force and to appear as the champion of Islam against aggressive Christendom. Pan-Islamism was encouraged.”
Impressive biography, that is. It has everything one needs to know about modern Turkish politics and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s rule. Except that the biography is not Mr. Erdoğan’s, nor does it depict modern Turkish political life.
Anyone of His Majesty’s prosecutors jumping into this biography and thinking that it may perfectly demand charges on “insulting the president” claims should check Wikipedia before ridiculing himself.
The biography above is not President Erdoğan’s, nor is this columnist’s imagination.
It is the biography of the 34th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Sultan Abdülhamid II (Abdul Hamid II), as narrated in the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia. Naturally, the country depicted in the text is not Turkey, the Rising Man of Europe, but the Ottoman Empire, the Sick Man of Europe.
A disclaimer may be necessary at this point: Neither of the characters appearing in this column are fictitious. Any resemblance between the two is purely coincidental or a simple twist of historical facts.
But modern political history tends to keep on bridging the two men together even today.
On Feb. 23, the local governor, the mayor and about 300 students in Istanbul’s Üsküdar district held a memorial for the “Red Sultan (Abdülhamid II).”
In a speech at the event, the governor said the following: “We are here to commemorate the Sultan who faced grand Zionist games, was exiled and finally interned at this palace and martyred.” The mayor added: “As you know, Sultan Abdülhamid’s biggest hardship was the betrayal he faced … A similar betrayal was committed against our president, Erdoğan.”
What an irony.