The controversy spurred by the National Educational Council's vote over the weekend to make Ottoman language classes compulsory at religious high schools and an option at all state secondary schools continues at full throttle. Not only secular Turkish citizens, but also Westerners, have gone crazy over the proposal. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's support for the vote sparked disputes and as one might expect, harsh critics set their sights on him.
The excessive attacks have a certain characteristic. After a long-duration of incessant offensives, the target usually becomes hardened and desensitized unless they are a victim. The two years of verbal assaults and unfair slandering, of course, have made either Erdoğan or the mass supporting his politics lose their appetite and became disinterested in refuting the accusations. However, despite the fact that the anti-Erdoğan section of society cannot fluster people anymore, they cannot let it go even though they have become a laughingstock.
Regarding the latest polemics of Ottoman Turkish classes, some have accused Erdoğan of trying to turn Turkey into an Arabic-speaking country in order to impose Arabic culture and some have ridiculously said speaking perfect English as a precondition to that. I have even heard some alleging on debates that Ottoman classes would bring out an encrypted language among the youth and that is why it is a threat because their parents would not understand their conversations. I know it is not worth mentioning, but when such nonsense is set forth as public opinion and reports start to claim that the proposal is against public opinion, i.e. they go ahead to distort reality once again, one feels obliged to say something. It is as if only the secular citizens or the Kemalists form the public and all the rest are animals.
Let's stop here and have a look at the past. In 1928, the current Turkish alphabet was adopted from the Latin alphabet and implemented in Turkey as a personal initiative of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk following his consolidation of power. With the help of his one-party state ruled by his Republican People's Party (CHP), he got the previous opposition out of the way and was able to implement the radical reform of the alphabet. Actually, the Language Commission established by Atatürk proposed a five-year transition period, but according to him, it was far too long. He needed a clean cut and ordered the period be reduced to three months. On Nov. 1, 1928, the law passed. On Jan. 1, 1929, it went into effect and the use of the new alphabet was compulsory in all public communication. The people became deaf and mute in just one day. They lost all connection to the past before that day. Please find the dictator in that paragraph.
You couldn't? Actually, Atatürk himself said to his friend, Falih Rıfkı Atay, "We are going to cleanse the Turkish mind from its Arabic roots." These roots, in fact, were our own roots, our own past, our own history, as all documents until then were written in an alphabet that became banned to use, teach and learn. In his book "Emerging of Modern Turkey" praising Ataturk's 'for the people, despite the people' strategies, Bernard Lewis also described Atatürk's forcing the former Ottoman people of the new Turkish Republic to accept the new alphabet as a systematic effort to slam the door on the past.
Now, our children finally have a chance to read history by themselves without using official translations and will have a chance to find the truth by themselves. They will have an opinion of their own regarding what happened in the past by reading the original script and will stop parroting what official historians made us memorize. Today, Turkish people cannot even read the records of the constituent assembly of Turkish Republic and the documents of those days, let alone those from the Ottoman era. Nobody is banning the current alphabet like Atatürk did. What happened to the slogan, "Education is a must"? Ottoman Turkish is not a foreign language. It's not Arabic or Persian. It's just a form of Turkish written with another alphabet and used for hundreds of years. It is our history, our past. Why do you get scared, idiots, if you have nothing to hide.