By the end of the 19th century, Ottoman Armenians staged numerous uprisings through the Dashnak and Hinchak committees upon provocations from European powers with the goal of carving up an independent state. After Abdülhamid II, the Ottoman sultan at the time, refused to make concessions to the Armenians and thwarted their bid for independence, they came to view him as their greatest enemy.
After tracking the movements of the sultan for a long time, Armenian terrorists decided to assassinate Abdülhamid II during a divine Friday service parade. On Friday, July 21, 1905, terrorists arrived at the Yıldız Mosque with a carriage loaded with 80 kilograms of timed explosives. The plan was seemingly going well. But after the prayer, the sultan got caught in a conversation with Sheikh ul-Islam Cemaleddin Efendi and did not show up on time. Meanwhile, the bomb exploded with a loud bang. Unexpectedly delayed by Cemaledin Efendi for a few minutes, the sultan barely escaped the assassination attempt. But 26 members of the sultan's service died and 58 others from his service, as well as civilians in attendance, were wounded. In addition, about 20 animals died and many carriages were wrecked.
Shortly after an investigation began, Charles-Edouard Joris was detained along with some other suspects. Some of the suspected terrorists managed to flee abroad.
Give our terrorist back
After the attack, Western nations sent telegraphs of condolences. After the arrests and court rulings, however, the Ottoman administration faced pressure from European diplomats. The Ottoman administration resisted the pressure from Belgium. But as other European states also made demands in support of Belgium, and as these demands began to turn into threats, it bowed to the pressure of the Western world. Sultan Abdülhamid II first commuted the death sentence of Joris, the chief plotter who aimed to take his life, to life imprisonment, and then pardoned him. Charles-Edouard Joris was not returned to Belgium but was given his passport back and sent to Europe. Thus, a terrorist responsible for the deaths of innocent people was released due to pressure from the West.
The assassination attempt on Sultan Abdülhamid II had echoed around the world. Despite intervening on behalf of the terrorists later, Europe condemned the act initially. The bombers were praised by one of us, the poet Tevfik Fikret. At the time, Fikret had already become alienated from his religion, nation, state and his state's history. He wrote poems with lines such as, "The earth is my homeland, my nation all humankind." In this mood, he expressed his sorrow over the failure of the assassination attempt on the sultan in a poem titled, "An Instant of Delay" ("Bir Lâhza-i Teehhür"). Likening the terrorists to "a glorious hunter," he regretted the premature explosion of the bomb as follows: "O, glorious hunter, you did not set your trap in vain/You fired ... but alas, alas, you missed!/Your voice has the strength of the thundering anger/That puts feelings of justice and freedom in motion/Had inexorable time stopped for just a minute/ Would have been a blessing, the like unseen in ages."
A tradition of pseudo-intellectuals
An intellectual is someone who shares their knowledge and enlightens their people, searching for truth with a thorough understanding of the language, history, literature and social values of their society. Sadly, our country has only a few intellectuals but too many pseudo-intellectuals (or "entel"). The "entel" tradition in our country has two key elements. The first is about "insulting their country" and the second is "obsessive hate especially of leaders of the state."
Resembling colonial intellectuals, our pseudo-intellectuals – as described by the late thinker Durmuş Hocaoğlu – easily fall prey to the diseases of betrayal and alienation. Unfortunately, there is no cure for either disease.
In Turkey, those statesmen loved and respected by many of the people never get along well with entels. Abdülhamid II, Adnan Menderes and Turgut Özal are such examples. The greater people's love and respect for state officials, the greater entels' hate and spite against them. Their will is enslaved by their ambitions. They keep playing a game of political ambition. They believe that all power should belong to themselves and claim a monopoly over truth. When events take a turn against their desires, they have fits. They insist on preaching their ungrounded beliefs that are not embraced by people and are inconsistent with national interests and facts. They spew out their obsessive hatred at every opportunity. They hurl insults at people and state officials and defend this as freedom of expression. And they try to mask their glorification of terrorists with peace advocacy. On the surface, they criticize the shortcomings and misconduct of political power. But their real worry is about protecting their interests along with those of their allies. There is no end to their hatred and spite. They perceive intellectuals' habit of questioning the foundation of the legitimacy of power through knowledge as a license for insulting the state and statesmen. Instead of advocating people's demands vis-à-vis the state, they hold everyone and every national value in contempt. They create an atmosphere of fear with unfounded allegations and wear down the state and statesmen.
These entels in Turkey, who are called intellectuals, turn their backs on their nation's values and insult their own nation, state and history. The more they insult the more they think of themselves as great intellectuals. Entels never like their nation, history, state or statesmen. Like Don Quixote tilting at windmills, our pseudo-intellectuals wage war on their own nation and history. There is no end to their fantasies. Most of these are former communists who were left idle by the collapse of the Soviet Union. They never miss an opportunity to engage in anti-Turkey activities. They do everything they can to promote the Armenian theses in Turkey. They support terrorism and terrorists. When anything detrimental to Turkey emerges, they instantly embrace it. They have no national ideal or devotion to their nation. They live on their never-ending hatred and spite against the Turkish nation. There are also other countries that face the betrayal of intellectuals, but our pseudo-intellectuals' betrayal of and alienation from their nation is unequaled in the world. What these pseudo-intellectuals, who know no limits to betrayal, do not realize is that the Turkish people, who had founded the Ottoman Empire, one of the three greatest empires ever in history, will never bow to a few entels and their fantasies.
* Historian, Chancellor of National Defense University, Ankara