From “We are all Armenians” to Posing for Souvenir Photos with the Killer

The Turkish security forces face fresh embarrassment after it emerged that some of its members had posed for “souvenir pictures” with the alleged murderer of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink.Film footage and photos leaked to the media showed 17-year-old Ogun Samast, who has confessed to the murder, displaying a Turkish flag, flanked by members of the security forces, some of them in uniform.Behind them is a calendar featuring another Turkish flag and the words of the country’s founder, Ataturk: “The motherland’s soil is sacred. It cannot be left to its destiny.” (source)

The problem of toxic Turkish nationalism is a serious one for Turkey. A Fascist Nationalism is the force that protects and militates against Islamism and Jihadism in Turkey, yet it is informed by those strains that also seek after authoritarianism. The Young Turks who propagated the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire were the predecessors of the the Moslem Brotherhood, which in turn gave birth to Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Al Qaeda. After the Ottoman Empire was broken up and Attaturk dissolved the Caliphate, Attaturk encouraged Nationalist feelings in order to guard against further Islamist excesses.

The relationship between this hysterical type of Turkish nationalism–or, to use a more appropriate term, Turkish fascism–and Islam is worth clarifying. There are of course many militant Islamists in the world today, but Turkish fascists are not among them. In fact, they are clearly distinguished from and often at odds with Turkey’s Islamic circles, some of which are strong proponents of democratization and the EU bid. The fascists defend Islam and use it in some of their slogans, to be sure, but this is because they see religion as an important component of the Turkish identity. They hate the “infidel” Jews, Armenians, or Americans, but they detest Muslim Kurds and Arabs, too. Indeed, some of their most extreme factions don’t like Islam because of its trans-nationalism; instead they yearn for the pagan faiths of the pre-Islamic Turks.

Threats and violence have been the traditional tools these fascist cadres use to silence the intellectuals they hate–including liberal novelists such as the recent Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk, and the Sufi-inspired Elif Safak. With the murder of Hrant Dink, they probably wanted to give a warning to them all. But the reaction of Turkish society to this political assassination suggests that their plan has backfired. Right after Dink’s murder, thousands of people gathered in front of his office to protest the crime. Their maxim was dramatic: “We are all Hrant Dink.” And the Turkish media, save for a few extremist dailies that support the fascist line, published heartfelt praise for Dink and grave condemnation of his murder.

Moreover, Hrant Dink’s funeral turned into an unprecedented rally against fascism in Turkish society. About one hundred thousand people from all walks of life and faiths marched in the wide avenues of Istanbul, creating a scenic river of bodies. The motto of the day was “We are all Armenians.”(source)

From “We are all Armenians” to posing for souvenir photos with the killer, the contrast couldn’t be more vivid.

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