Centers and peripheries in Turkey

In addition to being unable to digest the democratic results, they still find the results enigmatic. If only they knew the dynamics and dynamism of Turkish society.

Centers and peripheries in Turkey
By İhsan Yılmaz, Today's Zaman

Discussions around the recent election results have shown that some of the elite were caught ostensibly by surprise. In addition to being unable to digest the democratic results, they still find the results enigmatic. If only they knew the dynamics and dynamism of Turkish society.

Some of them confessed after the elections that they were living in outer space and that is why their elections estimates failed with "a 100 percent margin of error." If they are sincere in their confessions then, as heroes of hospitality, we Turks can do nothing but welcome them to Turkey. We suggest that they begin by taking "Turkish" lessons. Here is the beginner's guide to Turkey.

Great Turkish political scientist Şerif Mardin's center and periphery analysis needs to be updated as he rightly suggested a short while ago. Turkey can no longer be explained by centre and periphery paradigm. There are now centers and peripheries in Turkey. In today's Turkey, centers and peripheries -- just as identities -- are intermingled and the boundaries between them have become blurred.

Periphery is no longer composed of low or folk culture. It is no longer composed of villager, religious, uneducated and oppositional masses. We can argue the same for the centre from the opposite angle. For instance, who do the Nationalist Action Party represent? Do they represent the centre or periphery? Do they only include people from the periphery or only people with bureaucratic backgrounds and mentalities? What about the Republican People's Party (CHP)? Are Alevis who heavily vote for CHP natural inhabitants of the centre? Does the CHP represent the educated, the rich, the intellectuals? Does the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) -- which is not an Islamist party but has many members who are devout Muslims in their personal lives -- appeal to the urban, the non-religious, the Westernized, the secular? It is obvious that it represents one or more centers and one or more peripheries just as CHP or MHP does on a much lesser scale.

Islam is an obvious reality of some of these centers and peripheries. This nation is first and foremost a Muslim nation. Not only 99 percent of Turks are Muslims -- nominally or otherwise -- but the other 1 per cent is also culturally Muslim, to a great extent. And, the process has never been one way. Turkish culture has immensely benefited from the cultures of non-Muslim, non-Turkic peoples in and around Anatolia thanks to pragmatism and moderate Sufi-spirit of Turks.

As a matter of fact, Turks are the ones who have been voluntarily influenced by acculturation. Arguably, we have more common points with the Greeks, Bosnians or Albanians than our relatives in the lands of our ancestors who think that we are adulterated Turks.

Seventy percent of this nation proudly carries either one of their beloved Prophet's or his companions' or relatives' names. Practicing or not, almost everyone in this nation reveres the Prophet and it is not a mechanical act of reverence. Many celebrities, elite, business people and so on go the Mecca for pilgrimage every year. Albums revering the prophet sell millions of copies. Celebrations of the prophet's birthday take place in stadium-size places.

All of our soldiers in the army are named after the prophet, the little Muhammad. Just as this nation loves the Prophet, it also loves and respects its "little Muhammads" army. Just as this nation does not want its Prophet and religion abused and politicized, in the same vein, it does not want its army to be abused and politicized.

Our laicist oligarchic elite including their pseudo-sociologists and e-memo authors must take this into account. I respect their desire to live in a ghetto, but when they try to belittle, to say the least, this nation's religion or revered religious figures in one way or another, they should know that they are working for the AK Party's success in the next elections.
Last Mod: 19 Ağustos 2007, 09:25
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