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Hidden Women.. [Turkish Editorial]
Hurriyet ^ | 4/25/2003 | Bekir COŞKUN

Posted on 04/25/2003 11:10:30 AM PDT by a_Turk

The fundamentalists have denied women.

Women have been assumed not to exist in law, social life, in business.

While counting two women's witness equal to one man's, they've made women second class.

They bought and sold her like a commodity.

There's not one woman in any assembly outside the closed family unit.

They wouldn't even let them enter places of worship.

And even when they finally had to leave this world they love, women do not take their place at the final ceremonies held in mosque courtyards..


From northern Africa to Afghanistan, from the Sudan to Azerbaidjan, without exception, this is the reason for the lands of Islam being so poor, backward, and oppressed.

Any country where you ignore fifty percent of the population, any country where you reduce the workforce by fifty percent and force them to be consumers only..

Any country where you exclude those creative, loving, peaceful women from political office and force them to remain at home..

That country will be bankrupt..

Just like the muslim countries from northern Africa to Afghanistan, from the Sudan to Azerbaidjan.


And Turkey?

Because it is home to women a bit more free, a bit more respected, a bit more vocal, Turkey is a bit less bankrupt in comparison.

That is why the headscarf discussion is important.

Outside of the shows by the speaker of Parliament, the ruling party wives are home, quiet, and almost non-existent.

That's what bothers me..

Hidden women whose silhouettes can occasionally be seen in the media, who are seated in the back rows at celebrations, who are horrified of the media, who don't know what to do, who are forbidden to speak..

Sure they deserve respect.

They are each mothers..

Home makers, who weep during hard times, who cannot show their happiness during good days, intimidated..

And to top it off, prisoners of an ideology which is criticized and blamed by at least seventy five percent of the population..

Women who can't just say: "If it's a problem, I'll remove my turban.."

That's what bothers me..

Women who exist, but almost don't.

TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs
KEYWORDS: freedom; fundamentalism; headscarf; islam; islamists; turkey
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Prof. Dr. HASAN KÖNI;[**]

            We considered it as interesting to investigate on the article ‘Turkish Mentality’, published in the ‘Atlantic Magazine’ in 1925, which was written by the famous English historian, Arnold Toynbee, who has visited Turkey in April 1923 when the Lausanne Conference was interrupted.

The personality of Toynbee that I will elaborate in this paper, will explain the importance of his articles. In this article Toynbee, compares the Turkish revolution to other revolutions. By going down to the pre-Ottoman Turkish history era, he explains the Turkish state logic, mentality and the state of mind. Toynbee draws an interesting picture, regarding Anatolia’s minorities, especially the Greeks (which was the most supported nation by the British) and the reasons for their behaviour. The significance of Toynbee’s remarks on the Greeks stems from the fact that he was the head of the Greek History Chair at the Oxford University and that he had prepared numerous projects and researches on ancient Greek history. Toynbee also examines Ottoman minorities and makes some generalizations on this issue. Despite his neutrality, this article, of 1925, shows marks of his days in the British Secret Service. When discussing the borders of the new Turkish state, before the Mosul problem arised, Toynbee argues that enlarging the boundaries, determined in Lausanne, would create problems for the new state.  This article looks like a warning for the Turkish State to act carefully in the Mosul Issue.


We will not look at Toynbee’s personality in the classic biographic method by examining his childhood, marriage and the incidents in his life, but in the field of our interest, which is more about Toynbee’s political views and his thoughts and actions on Greece and on the War of Independence of the Turks and the Greeks.

Toynbee is a well known scholar who has given lectures at Britain’s Balliol College, Oxford University, on Greek Language, Ancient Greek History and the Anatolian Civilizations,  which were also the fields that the British intellectuals praised.

Toynbee commenced working at the British Foreign Ministry’s Propaganda Office in 1915 and afterwards continued his work at the ‘Political Secret Service Department’. (This department was later transferred to the Foreign Ministry) We are trying to explain Toynbee’s intelligence work at the secret service by using various sources.

The task that he had undertaken there, was to influence the American public opinion. He used to write daily reports for the English government after reading daily articles of the American media. The English propaganda changed its direction in October 1915: ‘The Turkish massacre against the Armenians’. This issue had gained importance after the speech of the president of British-Armenian Friendship Association, Lord Bryce in 6 October 1915. Bryce obtained his information from the American missioners who had founded schools and health centres in Anatolia. Turkey did not intervene in any of these schools and medical centres until the war with the US in 1917.

The aim of the Protestant American missioners was to convert the Muslims living in Anatolia to Christianity. As they did not succeed they tried to convert Orthodox Christians to Protestantism. The clients of the Protestant schools were Anatolian Greeks and Armenians. Despite the fact that the Armenians did not have the right to claim their independence, they went into collaboration with the Russians and fought against the Ottoman armies. Their losses were presented in an exaggerated way to the American missionaries, who transmitted these false information to the American ambassador MORGENTHAU and to the intelligence staff at the Robert College. This lead to the fact that finally the British held enough genocide propaganda material in their hands.

Although ambassador MORGENTHAU had to be neutral during his visits to the Dardanelles up to 1917, he transmitted information on the condition of the Ottoman army to the British army.

The most significant mistake that Morgenthau undertook was to transfer information about the Southeastern war fields, which were told him by his Armenian secretary in form of genocide stories, as if he has seen the conditions there, although he has never been there.

There were  various reasons for the British to start with the Armenian propaganda after the speech of Lord Bryce in 1915 in the British parliament. Firstly to convince their own nation that they are waging a fair war, so that they could justify the expenses of warfare and to be able to attract more people to the army. The second reason is the German counter propaganda about the massacres of the Jews by the Russians with the pretext that they did not fought well on the Galica front and the sympathy of the American Jews for the Germans. Such propaganda was needed to influence the American Jews and get them involved into the war. On the other hand the British were committing massacres to the Irish who had joint the Sinn Fein Organization and did not want to enter the war on the British side. The Germans were supporting the Irish. The British needed a new counter propaganda in order to cover the Irish incidents. From this point onwards the British propaganda gained intensity. In that propaganda, it was claimed that the Germans were responsible for the Turkish actions against the Armenians.  When Lord Bryce wanted the massacres towards the Armenians to be recorded systematically, Toynbee who was the most brilliant writer of the intelligence, was appointed as assistant to Lord Bryce. In fact neither Toynbee nor Bryce were aware of the real intention of the British government, which was to get America involved in the war.

Toynbee, depending on liberal values, put together the news he received from the American missioners in a 700-page book. The name of the book was ‘The Treatment of  Armenians in the Ottoman Empire: 1915 - 1916’. According to an English author, this book is the first extraordinary example of war propaganda. The book tires the readers with bloody scenes and brutality. The fact that it does not explain the reasons of the conflict between Turks and  Armenians, upset Toynbee because he was used as a tool in hiding the historical truth.

After realizing that short texts were easier to read by the people, the British Foreign Ministry published the ‘Blue Books’. Even though Toynbee wrote these books, Lord Bryce’s name was written on them. The first brochure was named ‘Armenian Genocides: A Death of a Nation’. The second brochure ‘The Deadly Pressure of The Turks’ has Toynbee’s signature and Lord Bryce’s introduction. Thousands of these brochures were published and distributed all over the British Empire, where the sun never sets, and America. Armenian genocide was not to be talked about after the entrance of America into the war. Toynbee’s new job was to write about the German massacres.

During the years 1916-1917 Toynbee published brochures like, ‘German Brutality: The Collapse of Poland’, ‘German Terror in Belgium’ and ‘German Terror in France’. When he finished these articles he said to a friend: ‘Thanks god I am through with the massacre stories’. Beginning from 1917, Toynbee worked on the intelligence reports received from the Ottoman Empire. Continuing in 1918 with intelligence reports coming from Central Asia. The outcome of this work was turned into a research book called ‘The Memorandum on the Muslim Nation Administrating Themselves’. In this study Toynbee claimed that the support the Germans gave to the Turks and the British gave to the Arabs, helped these nations to form their own states.

He further claims that the British drew back in spite of the developments in the Islamic world, and that only Armenians, Georgians, Kazakhs and Ukrainians remained as friends, the latter being in a doubtful situation. He also argues that Muslims and Bolsheviks were getting closer to each other.

Toynbee thought in 1918, when the peace process was developing, that Britain would play an important role in the peace with Turkey. However he is to hate Llyod George when he realises that he does not care about his ideas. In his newspaper articles between 1919-1924, he criticized Lloyd George’s wrong policies. At the Paris Conference of 1919, to which Toynbee went as the reporter of  Manchester Guardian, he had meetings with the representatives of Armenians, Greece, Arab, Jew and Kurds, whom were claiming land from the Ottoman Empire. Toynbee thought that İzmir would be the capital city of the new Turkish state, but he would not be able to explain his ideas to Lloyd George. In a letter he stated that the English and the Americans were supporting the idea that İzmir should be left to the Turks but their representatives to the conference thought differently. Toynbee did not consider the Sévres Agreement as realistic. In order to correct the mistakes of the conference, Toynbee and his friend Harold Nicholson (who would become an important diplomat later on) prepared some proposals stating that the European coasts of the Trace and Istanbul should be given to Greece and Turkey should stand on the Asian side. Toynbee was offered a Koreas professor’s grade with the purpose to teach ancient greek history literature at King College within the University of London. King College was financially supported by rich Greeks living in London. During his professorship at the King College in London, his articles were mainly on the Turkish Greek war from 1920 to 1922, in which he started to become more sympathetic towards the Turkish side.

In 1921 Toynbee was to ask for permission from his university to visit Anatolia and Greece. He was to attend these visits as the reporter of Manchester Guardian. On the 7th of January Toynbee arrives in Greece and turns back to London on the 21st of September. After visiting Greece Toynbee went to İzmir, where he, with the assistance of the director of the American College, Alexander MacLachlan, meets some Turkish businessmen. These Businessmen seem to support the Greek view. Toynbee wants to see the truth, so he, together with Kızılay visits the war places, where he recognizes that the Greek, by withdrawing from the war places, killed Turkish civilians. When Toynbee visited Yalova, he recognized that only 1500 of 7000 were still alive. From this time onwards he started writing about the brutality that the Turks were facing. He kept reporting his observations on the barbarity of the Greeks, and the Manchester Guardian published all these reports without changing a single word. In a letter he states that he himself rescued 700 persons from the Greek barbarism. These reports convinced the owner of the newspaper, C.P Scott and Toynbee that the Sevres Agreement was unfair and unrealistic and could not be implemented. Lloyd George’s  politics of the Near East which intended to keep up the British interests in the region and which ended up in a disaster, shall be given up. After all his observations Toynbee realised that he was only aware of half of the truth, while writing his articles in 1915. Just after he returned from Istanbul, he