When reconstructing our national identity, we should remember the past policies and strategies aiming to detract the values of Turkish identity. In this context, remarks from the British statesman and prime minister during World War I, Lloyd George, in parliament are pivotal: "The unique way of defeating the Turks is to deprive them from their holy Quran and their religion and revile against their traditions, faiths and past history." In this respect, the reinterpretation of basic parameters of Turkish identity should be our first priority to complete the intrinsic nationalization process with the principles of national will and total independence as inherited from the legacy of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
Let's start with religion. One of the most important parameters to be reconstructed is religion. As a matter of fact, Turkish identity did not have the character to build a civilization before the introduction of Islam. On the other hand, it was observed that Turks who lost their religion lost their identity as in the case of Bulgarians and Hungarians. However, global politics has begun to be shaped with identity politics since the beginning of the 2000s, and religion, sect, ethnic origin and national belonging have played a very central role. In this period, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, NATO perceived Islam as the greatest threat and invented a forged idea of Islamic terrorism to legitimize itself. Nevertheless, there is huge trouble that exists in Islam, but terrorism has never accompanied Islam. However, the mission of constructing Islamic terrorism was taken over by NATO as a leading figure, and NATO supported think tanks as well as some intelligence services. In line with this pathological mentality, the CIA Global Trends 2015 Report from 1995 declared that 20 years later, 85 percent of the underground and ground resources of the world will be in Muslim countries, and it is urgently required to institute effective actions against this bad condition. This report became a signal flare and trajectory for global policies to be implemented within the perspective of the future. The 9/11 terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers was the first step in the intrigue to fabricate Islamic terrorism. The U.S. occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan in 2003, the forging of moderate Islam and the Greater Middle Eastern Project designed by Richard Holbrook in 2004 and Euro-Islam, which was developed in Europe to distort the Muslim mentality, all served the same targets. The first target is the attempt to collapse or refute Islam's assertive capacity to build an authentic civilization by splitting the Muslim world into moderate and radical categories, and the second is to identify Islam with terrorist thinking and activists.
Confirming the war on Turkey
However, there exists an unnamed and undeclared war against Turkey, which created a sui generis harmony and strong modality between Islam and democracy. As a matter of fact, Turkey adopted Islamic thinking, which is awful for Western civilization as it makes Islamophobia illegitimate and unreasonable. Turkey is a unique country whose populace is modern and democratic, equipped with Western values with a very exclusive position by harmonizing Islam and democracy in 57 Muslim countries. The country is the antidote to Islamophobia in this circumstance. Turkey's northern neighbors were attempted to be contained first by destabilization in Georgia and Ukraine in 2004 and 2005. Its southern part was shaken by the Arab Spring at the end of 2010, and ultimately, the heart of Turkey was under attack on July 15, 2016, by the brainwashed betrayers motivated by the distorted religious ideas of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ).
That is, terrorist groups identify themselves with Islam, such as al-Qaeda and the Taliban, which emerged during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979; Boko Haram, which oppresses and terrorizes West Africa; and Daesh, which is shaped by sectarian conflicts urged by the U.S. in the Middle East. Western media has played the role of reflecting falsified and distorted terrorist ideas as genuine Islam for the sake of reproducing Islamophobia around the world and stiffening the inferiority complex invoked during the Westernization period of the Muslim world. This ambition led to leaving authentic and luminous references of Islam aside by yielding to radical and aggressive attitudes and discourses.
In this context, it becomes a necessity to redefine our identity and Islam, which makes this identity capable of establishing a civilization. By redefine, we do not mean reform and modernization, but the requirement of Islamic principles being updated in accordance with its intrinsic referential framework ongoing for hundreds of years by regarding the changing character of the sociopolitical environment. Turkish history should be reanalyzed in respect of the majority adoption of the Hanafi school of Sunni Islam on a practical level as an urbanized society and our attachment to the Maturidi school of Sunni Islam on a faith-based level as an establishing school of true connection and relation between the creator and the created and our auspicious movement in line with the followers of Sunnah. These preferences are to be elaborated in respect of roles they played in building a civilization and in shaping the relations among the individual, society and civilization.
Religious discourse should be inclusive and conciliatory rather than exclusive and discriminatory, especially during our time when statelets and satellite states attempt to be established amid religious, ethnic and sectarian conflicts in our region. Similarly, the European Union is not allowed to systematically create new religions by exploiting little differences through arguments in its progress reports. In this context, it is inevitably crucial that all religious communities and cults be under state control in terms of both their financial mobility and intervention in the state and politics.
Another factor behind identity
The other parameter of constructing an identity is the historiography and history itself. If we glance at history from points of impartial sources, we can easily see that it is impossible to write a history without Turks. However, we read our history from books written by Western authors and historians who create an inferiority complex in us inspired by 200 years of the process of Westernization. This perception of history represents a weak image of Turks by eliding their great victories that changed the ages. As is known, history is a construction and needs to be emphasized by attitudes, soul, faith and spirituality. In this respect, the glorious Turkish history should be rewritten by referring to our own resources and archives and by comparing and contrasting it with the other countries' past experiences.
The importance of mentality
Another parameter of constructing identity is formal education and informal training. Almost all societies develop a strategy to create a nation by shaping the mentality of citizens by means of education. In this context, the fundamental criteria of being a Turkish citizen must be determined with the principles of national belonging and indigenousness, and the curriculum should be designed in accordance with our national priorities. Muslim and Turkish scientists' contributions should be imprinted in youngsters minds in history of science lessons, Turkish people's mentality and way of life should be covered in sociology lectures, and Turkish philosophy and thinking with its sui generis character should be analyzed in history of civilization courses. This way, a new education system will provide the consciousness that our achievement to date is the guarantee of our future with great self-confidence. As mentioned above, Turkey has some serious problems in being a nation and has not completed its nation-building process yet. In this respect, unity on the ideal has been expressed many times in President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's many speeches. According to these speeches, in meaning, national unification should be depend upon the "rabia" – four national principles whose main pillars are one state, one nation, one homeland and one flag – as well as indigenousness and national belonging as the symbol of national integrity and self-confidence. As a matter of fact, these ideals will be able to be realized by means of a radical change in education, which directs young people's mentality into a realm that consists of what is indigenous and what is relevant to national belonging.
In line with this ideal, the nationalization and naturalization of capital is one of the most important parameters of constructing an identity. Because the middle class, which has the capital, is the agency of social and ideological transformation in any society, the enhancement of democracy, human rights and the rule of law can be possible when the middle class is educated with national ideals and loyalties as the leading ideas. In this respect, the expectations of an individual working in an open market economy to promote are to be kept strongly. It can be possible by a national and indigenous economy that is not open to external dependence, constituted by its own capital with nationalized defense and security. In these circumstances, the most challenging trouble of our rapidly industrialized country is dependence on external resources.
The latest and the most important parameter to shape a social construction is the redefinition of state identity. As is known, the most prominent document that specifies citizenship, nationality and strategic targets vis-à-vis relations between the state and its citizens is the Constitution as a national agreement. However, every state has an identity, and the friends, enemies, threats, tactics, strategies and targets of any state are determined by its definition. Nevertheless, Turkey needs a new, civil, democratic constitution whose central idea is a state identity that envisions the nation and state with a unifying common theme that the priorities of both state and nation are crystallized in common ideals, values and beliefs. Thus, this newly constructed identity in accordance with the executive government system will replace the inferiority complex arisen from 200 years of Westernization with its negative extensions and will create national unity and cohesion on the basis of national belonging and indigenousness.
* Dean of Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences, head of Political Science and International Relations at Dumlupinar University