Few might know it, but this year is the centenary of the British occupation of Istanbul. Today, that is one century after that national calamity Turkey is waging yet another War of Independence.
As the British both occupied and abandoned Istanbul in their peculiar manner, we do not feel obliged to celebrate the event with ceremonies at the national level. During the Gulf War, Iraq was occupied not only by the U.S. but also by the U.K. Still, we remember the Gulf War, not as British but the American occupation of Iraq, one of the many nefarious undertakings of U.S. President George W. Bush.
Today, we continue to wage our century-old War of Independence against the colonial powers. During the one-party era that had begun after our national triumph over the occupying forces, Turkey had experienced a bitter process of forced and top-down Westernization. Freedom of thought and faith had severely been restricted, while the immense and invaluable Ottoman legacy was degraded and defied. It was a period of oppression and torment for the Turkish people.
Amidst the poverty, caused by the World War II, Turkey's transition to a multiparty system in the post-war era enabled the rejuvenation of our cultural legacy. Instead of being the voluntary slaves of colonial powers, our people embraced the historical legacy of the Ottoman and Seljuk Empires, by re-interpreting the new Republic as their true heir.
The Western colonial powers had not always governed the colonies through their own armies. Instead, they maintained the colonial rule through representatives, through voluntary slaves, and Jacobins in the colonized countries. Thanks to the civil, military and bureaucratic elites, they maintained control in the colonies through military interventions and coups.
Invited by the National Vision in the European Islamic Community, I went on a pilgrimage to Mecca this year. The last time I was there was in 1997. During that period, Turkey's coalition government under Refahyol - established by Tansu Çiller and Necmettin Erbakan, himself the target of Feb. 28, 1997, "post-modern coup" - was brought down by the military.
Elements within the Turkish judiciary and press were fiercely opposed to the government and supported the military tutelage. In the end, Turkey's economic growth achieved under that government was largely impeded by the coup d'état.
From the fall of a democratic government in 1997 to the AK Party's ascension to power in 2002, Turkey had passed gone through a process of interregnum, when the country was on the brink of economic and political bankruptcy.
At that time, many pilgrims in Mecca condemned and cursed the coup back in Turkey. Today, when the U.S. is waging an economic war against Turkey, I observed that numerous pilgrims from various countries are cursing American imperialism, in favor of Turkey.
In other words, people around the world, especially the oppressed, regard Turkey as a leading symbol of resistance against global oppression and cruelty. Turkey's respected foreign policy in the face of injustices in the international arena has turned our country and its leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan into the symbols of hope for the oppressed against neocolonialism.
The National Vision movement in Europe, which was founded as a labor organization in the 1960s, has turned today into an immense network of universities, civil society organizations and associations. Turkish workers, who immigrated from Anatolia to Germany and other European countries, have brought about a strong social structure in Europe that is closely interested in the global issues of the Muslims. Their contribution to our ongoing War of Independence against colonialism is without a doubt invaluable.
Passing a series of tests in the last decades, Turkey's War of Independence goes on successfully and with solid steps thanks to the support of the oppressed people of the world.
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