‘We have to apologize to the Armenians’
After the publication of the powerful op-ed piece “We have to apologize to the Armenians” by daily Star columnist Hakan Albayrak, whom my column neighbor Mustafa Akyol referred to as a “committed Muslim, even an Islamist and a veteran of the Gaza Flotilla of 2010,” I felt that we non-Islamists may have been a little bit unjustly disgraced.
Columnist Cengiz Candar was probably right when he wrote in Al-Monitor that “the impossible is impossible in Turkey,” (A Turkish Awakening on Armenian, Kurdish Issues? April 28, 2013). After all, the crescent and star is the home of liberal Islamists, libertarian fundamentalists, peaceful jihadists, feminists in chadors, holy child abusers and even honorable rapists.
Inspired by the “even Islamist” columnist Albayrak, my column neighbor wrote: “This was a confirmation of what I have argued in these pages: The Islamic camp in Turkey is more inclined than secular Kemalists to be self-critical on what really happened to Ottoman Armenians during World War I...
“It signals that Turkey’s progress on the ‘Armenian issue’ just like in the ‘Kurdish issue’ will be spearheaded by Islamic minds more than secular minds,” (Mustafa Akyol, “An Islamic apology to Armenians,” April 27, 2013).
I am secular but not a Kemalist, or probably not anything that ends with the suffix “ist.” I would, though, admit several tags that might end with the suffix “ist” as long as they come after the prefix “anti,” like anti-Islamist, anti-Kemalist etc. But Akyol’s argumentation certainly makes Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu a radically more secular Kemalist than myself.
Davutoğlu’s ministry condemned President Barack Obama’s standard “Medz Yeghern (Great Disaster)” reference to the Armenian genocide and criticized the U.S. for being prejudiced about 1915. Is the minister/ministry a secular Kemalist entity who/which cannot even stand the use of “Great Disaster” in place of “genocide,” which over 25 parliaments around the world use to define the tragedy?
I can understand why the Islamic liberal Akyol was so sentimentally touched by Albayrak’s “We have to apologize to the Armenians” piece – most likely because the Star columnist is an Islamist. Nonetheless I felt so heartbroken for having been ideologically discriminated against. How can I not? I warmly welcome Akyol’s Islamist columnist hero for his brave words but is it not so unfair that my column neighbor has cruelly ignored my lines of the last three-and-a-half years? Just because I am not an Islamist, neither a committed Muslim nor a veteran of the Gaza Flotilla.
All the same, I feel obliged to repeat what I wrote in this column on Nov. 26, 2009, knowing that my appeal will go unnoticed just because I am secular:
“I would urge our pro-AKP liberals to pen a draft text in recognition of a full list of Turkish atrocities in the 20th century, decorated further with an official apology to the victims and their relatives. I declare in advance that I shall join the signatories.
“We should encourage the liberal AKP not to miss this unique opportunity to make peace with Turkey’s darker past. Simply by means of its powerful parliamentary majority the AKP should take up our recognition and apology text... and legislate it... I rely on my liberal, fiercely pro-AKP colleagues with much more influence in the AKP boardroom to proceed with this decent proposal which hopefully will end up in the shape of an AKP-sponsored bill in Parliament.” (“A decent proposal – to make me an AKP fan,” this column).
So, I repeat: Dear Islamist propagandists; you should speak to Davutoğlu’s ministry and to your committed Muslim/Islamist men in Parliament if you advocate justice. And you insult your own intellect when you think your lines convince millions around the world that Turkey does not apologize for its darker past because of a handful of secular Turks.
You want justice? You think that Islamic conservatives respect the “People of the Book?” Go ahead and tell Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that he should apologize for the Armenian genocide. And let me remind you that Turkey’s leader is Erdoğan, not a secular Kemalist.