İzmirli Fotoğraf Sanatçısı Selim Bonfil’in, “Foto Gagin Gözünden İzmir Yahudileri ve Karataş” adlı fotoğraf sergisi 500. Yıl Vakfı Türk Musevileri Müzesinde 6 Nisan 2022’de ziyaretçileri ile buluşacak. Aynı gün 15:30-18:30 saatleri arasında “İzmir’de Yahudiler- Antik Smyrna’dan Günümüze” isimli kitabın da lansmanı yapılacak.
İzmirli Fotoğraf Sanatçısı Selim Bonfil’in kentin ilk fotoğrafhanelerinden biri olan ve 1902 ile 1968 yılları arasında faaliyet gösteren Foto Gagin’in fotoğraflarından oluşan “Foto Gagin Gözünden İzmir Yahudileri ve Karataş” adlı sergisine ev sahipliği yapacak.
İzmir Musevi Cemaati Vakfı’nın Avrupa Birliği desteğiyle gerçekleştirdiği “Despertar(Uyanış) İzmir” adıyla bilinen “İzmir Musevi Cemaatini Kapsayıcı Liderlikle Güçlendirme Projesi” kapsamında 6-18 Nisan 2022 tarihleri arasında müzemizde ziyaret edilebilecek sergide Foto Gagin tarafından çekilen stüdyo fotoğrafları, düğün- aile fotoğrafları, o dönemin Karataş semtini ve semtteki yaşamı anlatan fotoğraflar yer alacak.
Sergide “İzmir’de Yahudiler- Antik Smyrna’dan Günümüze” adlı Gözlem Kitabevinden yeni çıkan kitabı satışta bulabilirsiniz. Zengin fotoğraflar ve arşiv belgeleriyle desteklenen kitapta tarihsel bilgilerin yanında, düğünlerde ne yenirdi, hastanelerde hangi tedaviler uygulanırdı, kadınlar sokağa çıkarken nasıl giyinirdi, hangi batıl inançlar vardı, okullarda eğitim nasıldı gibi kültürel zenginlikleri anlatan bölümler de yer alıyor. Bu çeşitlilik, kitabı merakla eline alacak her okura ilginç gelebilecek bir hikâye vadediyor… Kitabın mimarlarından Selim Bonfil, kitabı imzalayacaktır.
Foto Gagin Projesi’nin bir tesadüf sonucu ortaya çıktığını anlatan Selim Bonfil, “Yaklaşık on yıl önce eşim ile birlikte İzmir Yahudileri üzerine sözlü tarih çalışmaları yapmaya başladık. Bu çalışma sırasında ailelerin fotoğraf albümlerinde Gagin damgasına sıkça rastladım. Araştırmalarımın sonucunda Gagin’in kurucusu Aleksandro Gagin’in Arjantin’deki torununun oğluna, onun aracılığı ile de Gagin Ailesi’ne ulaştım. Ellerindeki fotoğrafları benimle paylaştılar. Bunlara çeşitli sahaflarda ve tanıdık ailelerde bulduğum fotoğraflar da eklendi. Hazine böylece oluştu. Sonrası, bu hazineyi Karataş’ta zaman ve mekan perspektifiyle derlemeye kaldı” dedi.
Çalışmanın yaklaşık 6 ay sürdüğünü belirten Bonfil, “Stüdyoda çekilmiş çok sayıda portre, aile fotoğrafı, düğün fotoğrafı, fotoğrafhaneden görüntülerin yanında Karataş semtine ait çok sayıda fotoğrafa ulaştım. En çok dikkatimi çeken konu o dönemde Karataş’ta yaşayan Yahudi, Müslüman, Rum, Ermeni ve bütün azınlıklar arasındaki sevgi ve saygı. Aralarındaki bağ o kadar kuvvetliymiş ki fotoğraflara bakınca kimin Yahudi kimin Müslüman olduğunu ayırt etmenin imkanı yok” diye konuştu. Bonfil sergide yer alan fotoğrafların fotoğraf meraklılarına dönemin fotoğraf sanatı konusunda pek çok ipucu vereceğini de sözlerine ekledi.
The book narrates the last days of the once prominent Jewish community of Thessaloniki, the overwhelming majority of which was transported to the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz in 1943.
Focusing on the Holocaust of the Jews of Thessaloniki, this book maps the reactions of the authorities, the Church and the civil society as events unfolded. In so doing, it seeks to answer the questions, did the Christian society of their hometown stand up to their defense and did they try to undermine or object to the Nazi orders? Utilizing new sources and interpretation schemes, this book will be a great contribution to the local efforts underway, seeking to reconcile Thessaloniki with its Jewish past and honour the victims of the Holocaust.
The first study to examine why 95 percent of the Jews of Thessaloniki perished—one of the highest percentages in Europe—this book will appeal to students and scholars of the Holocaust, European History and Jewish Studies.
Shortlisted for the 2020 London Hellenic Prize.
Table of Contents
1. Historical and Theoretical Background
2. Dehumanizing the Dead: The Destruction of Thessaloniki’s Jewish Cemetery
3. What People Knew: Contemporary Sources on the Holocaust
4. Reactions from the City Authorities
5. Reactions from the Institutions: the Church, the Courts, the University
6. Reactions from the Professional Associations
7. Jewish Efforts in Athens and Thessaloniki to Save the Jews of Thessaloniki during the Holocaust
8. The Actions of the Red Cross Delegate in Thessaloniki during the Holocaust and their Post-war Legacy
Leon Saltiel holds a PhD in Contemporary Greek History from the University of Macedonia in Thessaloniki and has received post-doctoral fellowships at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva and the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.
Bu cuma günü Michigan Üniversitesi’nden Fatma Müge Göçek ve İnsan Hakları Okulundan Elçin Aktoprak ile “Osmanlı İmparatorluğu ve Türkiye’de İnsan Hakları” konusunda yedinci Türkçe sohbetimizi gerçekleştireceğiz, YouTube kanalımızda canlı yayında!
The story begins with a parting of the sands – the construction of the Suez Canal that united the Mediterranean with the Arabian Sea. It opened the door of opportunity for people living insecurely on the fringes of a turbulent Europe.
The Middle East is understood today through the lens of unending conflict and violence. Lost in the litany of perpetual strife and struggle are the layers of culture and civilisation that accumulated over centuries, and which give the region its cosmopolitan identity. It was once a region known poetically as the Levant – a reference to the East, where the sun rose. Amid the the bewildering mix of races, religions and rivalries, was above all an affinity with the three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Today any mixing of this trinity of faiths is regarded as a recipe for hatred and prejudice. Yet it was not always this way. There was a time, in the last century, when Arabs and Jews rubbed shoulders in bazaars and teashops, worked and played together, intermarried and shared family histories. Michael Vatikiotis’s parents and grandparents were a product of this forgotten pluralist tradition, which spanned almost a century from the mid-1800s to the end of the Second World War in 1945. The Ottoman empire, in a last gasp of reformist energy before it collapsed in the 1920s, granted people of many creeds and origins generous spaces to nestle into and thrive. The European colonial order that followed was to reveal deep divisions. Vatikiotis’s family eventually found themselves caught between clashing faiths and contested identity. Their story is of people set adrift, who built new lives and prospered in holy lands, only to be caught up in conflict and tossed on the waves of a violent history.
Lives Between the Lines brilliantly recreates a world where the Middle East was a place to go to, not flee from, and the subsequent start of a prolonged nightmare of suffering frmo which the region has yet to recover.
Michael Vatikiotis has been a writer, broadcaster and journalist in Asia for more than 35 years. With family origins in the Middle East, he has lived in Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand as well as Hong Kong. He has written three books on Asian politics: “Indonesian Politics Under Suharto” and “Political Change in Southeast Asia.” Most recently (2017): “Blood and Silk: Power and Conflict in Modern Southeast Asia”. His published fiction includes two novels set in Indonesia, “The Spice Garden” (2006) and “The Painter of Lost Souls” (2012). His latest book is “Lives Between the Lines: A Journey in Search of the Lost Levant” published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson in in 2021.
Vatikiotis currently lives in Singapore working for the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, a Geneva-based private foundation that facilitates dialogue to resolve armed conflicts, and is a regular broadcaster and contributor to the opinion page of several newspapers. Vatikiotis is a graduate of the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, earned his doctorate, which was on Thailand, from Oxford University, and was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Maryland. He is a member of the Asia Society’s International Council and speaks the Thai and Indonesian languages fluently.
Remembering and Coexisting in Turkey and the Eastern Mediterranean
June 20 – July 1 2022
Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul
This summer school offers a unique opportunity for students and civil society activists to deepen their knowledge on pluralism, historical trauma and human rights in Turkey and the Eastern Mediterranean. The aim is to engage in conceptual discussions, advance methodological skills, and develop a network with leading scholars and civil society organizations active in these fields.
Participants and lecturers will discuss what cultural pluralism has meant in the past, what it means today, and survey how Turkey and other Eastern Mediterranean countries have struggled with their culturally pluralistic heritage and how these developments relate to the development of human rights. Special attention is given to oral history as a methodology and to the dynamics between academia and civil society in the advancement of knowledge related to these themes in the public sphere.
This summer school is organized for the second time by the Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul (SRII), financially supported by the Swedish Institute (SI), and held in collaboration with civil society organizations in Turkey.
The 10-day long full-time program will include seminars, workshops, study visits, and other interactive activities. Opportunities for one-on-one mentorship around individual research topics will also be provided.
Accommodation and travel expenses will be fully covered for participants living outside of Istanbul.
Who can apply
Undergraduate and graduate students, as well as civil society activists working on history, sociology, cultural heritage, cultural pluralism, memory studies, human rights, and other related fields. Fluency in both English and Turkish is required. Applications from students with limited access to international higher education programmes and who seek to further their work in these fields are strongly encouraged.
How to apply
Please send your CV and a letter of motivation that includes a brief research proposal to firstname.lastname@example.org by March 31.
Participants will be notified by the end of April.
We look forward to receiving your application!
Important note: Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, participants are required to present their vaccination cards.
Sosyal medyada nefret söylemi tespiti ve yapay zekâ geliştirme projesi
Hrant Dink Vakfı, Avrupa Birliği’nin desteği ile Boğaziçi ve Sabancı Üniversiteleri ile işbirliği ile yürüttüğü ‘Sosyal medyada nefret söylemi tespiti ve yapay zekâ geliştirme projesi’ için ekip arkadaşları arıyor.
Sosyal medyada nefret söylemi tespiti ve yapay zekâ geliştirme’ projesi için ekip arkadaşları aranıyor
Hrant Dink Vakfı, Avrupa Birliği tarafından desteklenen ‘Sosyal medyada nefret söylemi tespiti ve yapay zekâ geliştirme projesi’ için ekip arkadaşları arıyor. Projeyi Sabancı Üniversitesi ve Boğaziçi Üniversitesi ile işbirliği içinde yürütmekte. Proje nefret söylemi, ayrımcı söylem ve dezenformasyon konusunda farkındalık yaratmayı ve dijital alanda hak temelli, çoğulcu ve kapsayıcı söylemi teşvik etmeyi hedefliyor.
Proje kapsamında sosyal medyada nefret söyleminin tespiti için yapay zeka teknolojisini kullanarak bir araç geliştirilecek. Nefret söylemi, dezenformasyon, ayrımcı söylem gibi konularda farkındalık yaratmak için atölyeler, paneller düzenlenecek, podcast, rapor ve multimedya ürünler üretilecek. Üç yıl sürecek proje, yeni teknolojilerin kullanımı ile Türkiye’de dijital ve çevrimiçi alandaki ayrımcı söylemi azaltmayı ve toplumsal barışı teşvik etmenin yanı sıra Uluslararası Vicdan Mekânları Koalisyonu ile işbirliği içinde Ortadoğu bölgesindeki sivil toplum kuruluşlarının nefret söylemi, dezenformasyon ve çevrimiçi zararlı içeriklerle mücadele kapasitesini güçlendirmeyi de amaçlıyor.
Proje için çalışacak proje koordinatörü, proje asistanı, nefret söylemi analizi koordinatörü ve multimedya koordinatörü arayışındalar. Pozisyonların detaylarına linklere tıklayarak erişebilirsiniz. Pozisyonlar için son başvuru tarihi: 15 Mart 2022
Proje koordinatöründen temel beklentiler:
Proje ekibi arasında ve proje partnerleriyle iletişim ve koordinasyonu sağlamak, nefret söylemi izleme çalışmasını koordine etmek, düzenlenecek etkinliklerin koordinasyonunu sağlamak, çıkacak ürünlerin koordinasyonunu üstlenmek, projenin anlatısal ve mali raporlama işlerini yürütmek, görünürlük faaliyetlerine katkı sunmak.
Proje partnerleriyle iletişimi sağlamak, projenin lojistik ve ürün tedariki ile ilgili işlerini takip etmek, projenin evraklama ile ilgili işlerini yürütmek, düzenlenecek etkinliklerin organize edilmesine katkı sunmak, raporlama işlerine katkı sunmak, toplantı notlarını tutmak, proje boyunca proje verilerinin, çıktılarının ve duyurularının takibini yapmak.
Nefret söylemi analizi koordinatöründen temel beklentiler
Proje kapsamında yürütülecek nefret söylemi izleme çalışmasını proje partnerleriyle koordineli bir şekilde yürütmek, proje kapsamında geliştirilecek derin öğrenme aracı için veri beslemek üzere sosyal medyada ve çevrimiçi medyada sistematik medya izleme ve etiketleme çalışması yürütmek, nefret söylemi izleme çalışmasının parçası olarak söylem analizi çalışmasından sorumlu olmak, projenin son senesinde 6 ayda bir yayınlanacak ve yöntem, söylem analizi, nefret söylemi, dezenformasyon gibi konuları içeren raporların hazırlanmasından sorumlu olmak.
Video, dijital ve baskı kullanımı için grafik tasarım, GIF, infografik ve metin animasyonu gibi hareketli görseller ve podcast’lerin üretim süreçlerinden ve projenin diğer tüm yaratıcı işlerinden sorumlu olmak, multimedya içeriklerinin (video, fotoğraf, metin vb) kurgu, düzenleme ve sunumundan sorumlu olmak, görsel içerik üretebilmek, multimedya ürünlerinin Vakfın sosyal medya kanalları, Vakfın internet sitesi ve haber bültenleri aracılığıyla yaygınlaştırılması, görünürlük faaliyetlerine, duyuruların ve tanıtım materyallerinin hazırlanmasına katkıda bulunmak
The Alawis or Alawites are a minority Muslim sect, predominantly based in Syria, Turkey and Lebanon. Over the course of the 19th century, they came increasingly under the attention of the ruling Ottoman authorities in their attempts to modernize the Empire, as well as Western Protestant missionaries.
Using Ottoman state archives and contemporary chronicles, this book explores the Ottoman government’s attitudes and policies towards the Alawis, revealing how successive regimes sought to bring them into the Sunni mainstream fold for a combination of political, imperial and religious reasons. In the context of increasing Western interference in the empire’s domains, Alkan reveals the origins of Ottoman attempts to ‘civilize’ the Alawis, from the Tanzimat period to the Young Turk Revolution. He compares Ottoman attitudes to Alawis against its treatment of other minorities, including Bektashis, Alevis, Yezidis and Iraqi Shi’a.
An important new contribution to the literature on the history of the Alawis and Ottoman policy towards minorities, this book will be essential reading for scholars of the late Ottoman Empire and minorities of the Middle East.
Table of Contents
Introduction Research question Sources The Current State of the Literature 1. The Nusayris in the Ottoman Empire: A “Heterodox” Tribal Community and the State 1.1. The Nusayri-Alawis: History and Beliefs 1.2. The Ottoman Nusayris: Geography, Social Structure, and Authority 1.3. The Status of the Nusayris in the Ottoman Political System 2. “Appropriate objects of christian benevolence”: Protestant Missionaries and the Nusayris 2.1. Protestant American Millenarian Dreams in the 19th Century 2.2. Mission among “Heterodox” Groups 2.3. The Case of the Nusayris 3. Abdülhamid II’s Civilising Mission and the Policy of “Correction of Belief(s)” 3.1. The Roots of “Correction of Belief(s)” and Conversion Campaigns until the 19th Century 3.2. Correcting the Beliefs of the Bektasis after 1826 3.3. “Fine Tuning” during the Tanzimat and the Reign of Abdülhamid II 3.4. The Ottomans Fighting for the Nusayri Soul 4. The Nusayris under Young Turk Rule (1908-1918) 4.1. The Double-Edged Sword of the Young Turk Revolution 4.2. Protestant Missionary Efforts among the Nusayris 4.3. Muslim Responses to Protestant Missionary Work Conclusion Bibliography
The defeat of the Mamluk Empire in 1516-17 is the most significant conquest most people have never heard of. In the space of six months, Ottoman armies marched from Aleppo to Cairo, routed the Muslim Mamluk dynasty and seized territory that is now Syria, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Egypt and (parts of) Saudi Arabia. One moment the Ottomans were a regional power, the next they had an empire with intercontinental reach. Previously on the margins of the Islamic world, now they occupied its most prized religious and cultural centres. But the victory was just as important for the gateways it opened to other parts of the world: North Africa and the western Mediterranean, where the Spanish were expanding their influence; the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, where the Portuguese were elbowing in on local trade; and Iran and Iraq, where the Shiite Safavid dynasty was establishing its rule. The Ottomans would push forward on all these fronts in the following decades, joining a global contest for power that ranged from Mexico to Manila.
This is the story that Alan Mikhail, a professor of history at Yale, recounts in God’s Shadow. While the history of global competition isn’t new – to scholars at least – Mikhail places the Ottomans and their fellow Muslims at its centre, drawing on recent research to show that Ottoman, Mamluk and Persian domination of East-West trade routes necessitated European oceanic exploration, as did the fantasy of forging a global anti-Muslim alliance with the Great Khan of China. The threat of Ottoman military expansion helped ensure the success of the Reformation, since it forced the Catholic Habsburgs to call on Protestant military and financial support. And although Muslim states never established a formal foothold in the Americas, the culture and institutions they created did.
Before Columbus began his search for India, he had led an expedition to Tunis to recover a vessel seized by Muslim corsairs; he had also worked for a Genoese trading house in Chios, in the Ottoman-controlled Aegean. In the years that preceded the founding of Jamestown in Virginia, John Smith had fought Ottoman armies in Eastern Europe and spent time as an Ottoman captive. It’s no surprise, then, that many of the conceptual frameworks that European colonisers applied to the Americas derived from their encounters with Muslims at home: they compared Native American religious sites to mezquitas (mosques), called the nomads of Central Mexico alarabs, and referred to the offspring of Portuguese fathers and indigenous mothers as mamelucos. The infamous Requirement (Requerimiento), a Spanish legal document offering indigenous populations the choice between conversion and conquest, was based on jihad as practised by Muslims in medieval Iberia. The tribute (tributo) the crown collected overseas emulated the Islamic poll tax (jizya), also adapted by the Spanish from their Muslim predecessors on the peninsula.
Mikhail’s narrative focuses on an unlikely hero: the Ottoman sultan Selim I (1512-20), who is usually overshadowed by his grandfather Mehmed II, conqueror of Constantinople, and by his son, Süleyman I, known in the West as Süleyman the Magnificent. Selim undoubtedly deserves greater recognition: he led the Syrian and Egyptian campaigns of 1516-17; he contained the Iranian Safavids, who presented an existential threat to the empire; and he crafted the clever alliances with Muslim corsairs that won him territory in North Africa at very little cost. All of this he achieved in the space of eight years, before his premature death from a boil in 1520.
Modern Western historians have sometimes overlooked Selim, but their Ottoman predecessors did not. Selim has a whole genre devoted to him, the Selimnames, or ‘tales of Selim’. Although these are mostly hagiographic, they originated in attempts to justify the sultan’s controversial path to power. Before Selim’s accession in 1512, the Ottomans followed a system that has been referred to as ‘succession of the fittest’. When a ruling sultan died, his sons had to fight one another for the throne. Although this could cause instability in the short term, in the long term it helped to ensure that the most skilled candidate, and the one with the largest support base, prevailed. Sensing that his ageing father, Bayezid II, favoured another son, Selim acted pre-emptively, and without precedent: he marched his troops on the sultan and escorted him to an early retirement in northern Greece. Bayezid died mysteriously along the way.
If 16th-century commentators were uncomfortable about the methods used to secure the throne, later historians have denounced Selim’s belligerent, even murderous legacy. He justified deposing his father on the grounds that Bayezid, a Sunni, was too soft on the Safavids. Selim had proved his military muscle against the Safavids as a young man, fending off repeated incursions and launching his own raids into Georgia, reportedly taking more than ten thousand captives in 1508 alone. His first war as sultan was against the Safavids, culminating at the Battle of Chaldiran in north-western Iran. But it is less Selim’s warmongering that unsettles contemporary historians than his actions at home: before marching east, he instructed his officials to undertake a census of people thought to be Safavid sympathisers. Many of those registered were promptly arrested, and many were massacred – forty thousand of them, according to one contemporary source. (Turkey’s Alevi community traces itself back to these persecuted groups.)
Mikhail does mention these outrages, but there is little room for Ottoman violence in his tale of Ottoman glory. He downplays the more unsavoury aspects of Selim’s character to portray him instead as the enlightened defender of secular, pluralistic rule. In doing so, he is addressing an American popular audience, attempting to counterbalance post-9/11 perceptions of Muslims as reactionary and fanatical. It is certainly true that the Ottomans have not always received due recognition for their impact on the modern world. They boasted modern Europe’s first standing army. They introduced the world not only to coffee, but to the distinctly Ottoman institution of the coffeehouse. They taught Europeans how to inoculate against smallpox. If anything, Mikhail insists, it was Europeans who were driven by a ‘culture of fire-breathing religious loathing’, what with their succession of Holy Leagues and incessant calls for crusades. To be fair, the Ottomans also made liberal use of anti-Christian rhetoric in their domestic and foreign policy, and Selim’s epithet, ‘God’s Shadow’, clearly signals his religious aspirations. Nevertheless, Mikhail is right to stress that the Ottomans did not eschew the Atlantic out of a lack of curiosity or economic savvy, as has sometimes been claimed. As masters of the Black and Red Seas, they already possessed what the Europeans had to leave the Continent to acquire.
Mikhail’s traditional, expository narrative mode and great-man accounts of battles and high politics may seem uncontroversial. But in September last year, shortly after its release in hardback, God’s Shadow became the subject of a Twitter storm. Three academics – Cornell Fleischer and Cemal Kafadar, both Ottomanists, and Sanjay Subrahmanyam, a global historian – wrote a spectacular takedown of the book titled ‘How to Write Fake Global History’. ‘Why a historian in a respectable university has been possessed to concoct this tissue of falsehoods, half-truths and absurd speculations remains a mystery to us,’ they wrote. As the tweets proliferated, the review penetrated ever deeper into historians’ circles. For some, it was a much needed dose of honesty; others saw it as ‘scurrilous and territorial’. In October, two scholars published a rebuttal, subtitled ‘God’s Shadow and Academia’s Self-Appointed Sultans’. A few days later, the original trio published a response to the rebuttal. By this time, the controversy had spawned its own hashtag (#Selimgate), numerous blog posts and an online poll asking how Mikhail ought to respond (a plurality advised he ‘accept flaws and revise’). Mikhail, perhaps wisely, stayed silent.
Why would scholars of the Ottoman past reject a book that places the empire they study at the centre of global modernity? To those who follow Turkish politics, the book seems to echo the nationalist rhetoric of Recep Erdoğan and his Justice and Development (AKP) party, who are all too eager to cite the historical role of Muslims in global politics, not least to justify their own geopolitical ambitions. In 2014, Erdoğan declared that Muslims had preceded Columbus in the Americas, adducing mezquita sightings as evidence. ‘As the president of my country, I cannot accept that our civilisation is inferior to other civilisations,’ he explained to an audience of Muslim leaders from Latin America. Though Mikhail, in a coda, clearly condemns this brand of AKP politics, his disavowal counts for little; this is a 400-page book that casts Muslims as heroes and European Christians as villains in a global morality play. The problem is not unique to Mikhail – scholars challenging popular misconceptions of Islam often earn the approval of Islamists – but Mikhail’s propensity for hyperbole does exacerbate the risk that his book will be deployed in support of bad causes.
Most Ottoman historians, I suspect, are broadly sympathetic to Mikhail’s goals: they regularly teach their students that the Ottoman Empire was a key player in Eurasian politics, that the European Renaissance developed in dialogue with the East, and that Islam was a flexible and ever-changing set of traditions. God’s Shadow, however, has a tendency to overstate these claims: it’s a stretch to say that in 1500 the Ottoman Empire ‘shaped the known world’ from China to Mexico. The humanists of Renaissance Europe did not view Islam as ‘a more compelling obsession than the classics of antiquity, art or personal salvation’. And it’s difficult to see how Selim can be credited with leading an ‘Islamic Reformation’: the law book Mikhail cites as evidence of this claim built on, rather than overturned, features of the existing sharia court system. The tone of ‘How to Write Fake Global History’ betrays an anxiety about ‘relevance’ – relevance of the sort understandable to commercial publishers and university administrators – and the fear that meticulous scholarship is being crowded out. It’s not that historians haven’t always been keen to address contemporary concerns, but most have also insisted on the complexity of historical processes.
Selimgate also played into ongoing debates about the project of global history. The field developed in the 1990s out of precisely the kind of presentist concerns that shape Mikhail’s book, as historians sought to understand the origins of their own globalised world. Yet after nearly thirty years, the project has diversified in its goals and increased in sophistication. In some ways, God’s Shadow is a product of these developments, in that it finds connections between seemingly disparate geographic regions and centres a non-European perspective (most early practitioners were scholars of Europe). But in other respects, the book falls short of modern standards. Though many global historians, like Mikhail, still rely mostly on secondary literature, others have done brilliant and careful work with primary sources. Many have focused not on elite men, but on women, enslaved people or indigenous groups. Many have made ambitious claims, but have grounded them in precise empirical detail. A few have even managed to be both scholarly and accessible.
It is this balance that God’s Shadow fails to strike. As the number of positive reviews in the mainstream press has suggested, the book has penetrated a wider market for Ottoman history dominated by military historians and non-specialists. Surely it is welcome that an Ottoman historian with expertise in Middle Eastern languages would add his voice to this chorus. That doing so comes at the expense of historical accuracy is not inevitable. What a pity it would be if young scholars of non-European history concluded from Selimgate that writing global history, or making historical work accessible, are projects best left to others.
It’s been more than four years since Osman Kavala’s detention. On October 18, 2017, the day he was taken into custody, we all thought that “they probably won’t arrest him” and on November 1, when he was arrested we said to each other “they probably won’t keep him for long.” Today, 10 December 2021, marks the 1501st day of Osman Kavala’s detention and exactly the second year since ECtHR has ruled it a human rights violation. The ECtHR gave its verdict two years ago on Human Rights Day.
Osman Kavala has long been a target due to his solidarity with the politicians, journalists and academics whom the government tries to silence; and his support for the nongovernmental organizations working in the field of human and civil rights; and the projects he carried out through Anadolu Kültür, which he founded with the aim of increasing the production and sharing of culture and art works, emphasizing cultural diversity and cultural rights, supporting local initiatives and strengthening regional and international collaborations; and for spearheading the projects that establish dialogue with Armenia and create spaces for the Kurdish language and culture. He was a target because what he did demonstrated that all these could still be done. He symbolized the belief that there could still be law in this country. And exactly for this reason, his detention and arrest signify the criminalization of all these civilian and democratic activities and the persons and institutions that partake in them. By arresting him, the government wants to browbeat everyone who claims their rights and particularly those who work in the field of civil society and culture and arts.
Following his detention Osman Kavala was accused of various crimes by Erdoğan himself as well as by media outlets close to him. It took 16 months for the official indictment to emerge. It seems that the ruling power could not decide how to frame him for a long while. In the end, he was accused of allegedly planning, financing and organizing the Gezi Park protests. A 657-page long indictment seeking an aggravated life imprisonment for 16 defendants including Kavala was accepted on March 4, 2019 by the Istanbul 30th High Criminal Court. The indictment was scandalous and did not make any attempt to establish a causal link between the alleged evidence cited and the heavy charges against him.
The first hearing took place on June 24, 2019, 18 months after his arrest. Six hearings were held between June 2019 and February 2020. All the hearings were like battles where the lawyers had to teach the basic principles of law and justice to a panel of judges and a public prosecutor. Throughout the process, the judiciary itself has been violating the laws at different levels, ranging from listening to a witness without the lawyers’ presence to not applying the verdict of the European Court of Human Rights.
The ECtHR announced its verdict on December 10, 2019 and demanded the immediate release of Osman Kavala. To delay the process the local court dismissed the decision by saying it should be finalized after the application to the Ministry of Justice and used this unlawful excuse in two hearings.
In the final hearing on February 18, 2020, the court ordered the acquittal of Osman Kavala and the other defendants. We were not expecting this verdict since all of the demands submitted by the lawyers were rejected by the panel of judges and the atmosphere was quite tense. We were shocked but at the same time extremely happy! Family, friends and colleagues of Osman, as well as a group of journalists, went off to wait for him at a recreational facility on the road to Silivri Prison; others waited in town for his return. After several hours, we learned that there was a new arrest warrant for Osman Kavala regarding the same investigation. The vehicle which was going to bring him to his loved ones went directly to Police Headquarters and the day after he was arrested again and sent back to Silivri. This was a total frustration. However, we were not so surprised as President Erdoğan targeted not only Osman Kavala and Gezi in the party group meeting but also the judges who acquitted him.
At the very beginning of his predicament, on November 1, 2017 Osman Kavala was arrested based on accusations of violating both article 312 (that is the use of force and violence, to abolish the government of the Republic of Turkey or to prevent it, in part or in full, from fulfilling its duties / Gezi) and article 309 (attempting to abolish, replace or prevent the implementation of, through force and violence, the constitutional order of the republic of Turkey / 15 July coup attempt). The judicial process concerning the article 312 is as summarized above. For the case on 309, he was given a release order in October 2019. Based on recent legal changes, which limit the maximum pretrial detention period to two years, they could not extend his imprisonment from 309 and released him again on March 20, 2020. Besides, the verdict of the ECtHR was covering both articles 309 and 312. So, in order to circumvent the national law and the verdict of the ECtHR, he had to be arrested once again on the basis of a new accusation, and this time with the more absurd charge of “espionage,” from article 328. Notably, Osman Kavala has never been questioned by a public prosecutor in connection to any of the allegations made against him.
Osman Kavala had to wait for another 7.5 months for the new indictment covering both articles 309 and 328. None of the charges in this indictment were based on any facts, evidence, or objective evaluation of any concrete criminal act. The indictment recycles unsubstantiated accusations, which previously circulated in the pro-government Turkish media, that Osman Kavala and Henri Barkey were involved in espionage and in the 2016 attempted military coup. The indictment provides no credible evidence linking them with any criminal activities.
A thorough reading of the whole indictment reveals that the intention of the Istanbul Deputy Public Prosecutor – who was appointed as Deputy Minister of Justice one week after the release of the indictment to the public – is to discredit civil society organizations and to present their work as dangerous and divisive. In the indictment Osman Kavala was accused of managing activities which trigger social disintegration by supposedly funding divisive projects directed at citizens, particularly those from Kurdish, Armenian, Greek, Christian, Jewish, Assyrian or Yezidi backgrounds.
The first hearing of this new case took place on December 18, 2020, and in his defense, Osman Kavala criticized the conspiracy theories surrounding his civil society engagements. The second hearing of this new case took place on February 5, 2021, and the court ruled the continuation of Osman Kavala’s detention and accepted the merging of two cases (Gezi and espionage). As there was not much to do with this absurd “espionage” accusation, the judiciary could continue with the Gezi case as the acquittal decision was sent back by the First Degree Appeals Court. It became obvious that the “espionage” case was used as a “bridge” just to be able to keep him in prison.
In the following hearing on May 21, the Court ruled that the detention of Kavala on the charges of “espionage” shall continue. The Court also requested the Gezi file regarding the Çarşı group be sent to the Court and returned upon review regarding the consideration of the merger of the case files. The next hearing of the trial was scheduled to be held in Çağlayan Courthouse on 6 August 2021.
Even though the next hearing by the Istanbul 30th High Criminal Court had been scheduled on 6 August, the Court scheduled a hearing on August 2 and decided by a majority of votes to merge the case with the ongoing case at the Istanbul 13th High Criminal Court and to continue the detention of Osman Kavala. The next hearing was on October 8. The case became much more complicated combining three separate lawsuits with 52 suspects. Combining lawsuits related to different acts is a convenient method to create a perception of conspiracy in political cases. The Çarşı law suit, which previously ended in acquittal, was reversed by the Court of Cassation, in order to keep Osman Kavala in detention. In his statement at the hearing on May 21, Osman Kavala says: “Charges against me keep altering … as if a baton handed over in a relay race, various judges and courts have been carrying over my arrest, refraining from dropping it to the ground.”
In the hearings of the combined Çarşı and Gezi trials held on October 8 and November 26, the court decided to continue the detention and the question “Where is the evidence of espionage?” that was asked persistently by the lawyers remained unanswered.
The European Court of Human Rights rejected Turkey’s objection to its decision on Osman Kavala on 12 May 2020. Therefore, the decision became effective, and Osman Kavala’s lawyers applied for their client’s release, stating that he was being kept in prison on the same grounds as in the ECtHR’s decision, which was deemed a violation. In the finalized ECtHR decision, it was stated that the fact used in the last arrest “does not constitute a reasonable doubt showing that he has committed a crime.”
Although Turkey constantly objected to this, claiming that “the applicant is kept in detention under article 328, not article 309 and 312,” the decision also included detention for the espionage charge, which in a situation where there was a violation of article 18, such maneuvers were of no value. Therefore, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, which is responsible for monitoring the implementation of the ECtHR decisions, has so far made seven decisions and two interim decisions for Turkey to immediately release Osman Kavala. The second interim decision taken at the meeting of 30 November – 2 December was that a “violation procedure” would be initiated against Turkey on the grounds that it did not comply with the ECtHR decision on Osman Kavala. Ankara has been granted a delay until 19 January to indicate how the ECtHR decision will be implemented. The next court hearing is on January 17.
Ten days after the hearing on 8 October, the ambassadors of ten countries, seven European Union members, including Germany and France, and the USA, Canada and New Zealand, in a joint statement called for Osman Kavala to be “released” and immediately prompted the government’s reaction followed by Erdoğan’s insulting expressions against Osman Kavala. Erdoğan had previously targeted him on various occasions, and those statements were among the reasons for the violation of Article 18 in the ECtHR decision. Osman Kavala stated that it was not possible to hold a fair trial under these circumstances and announced that he would no longer attend the hearings and would not make a defense.
On 29 December 2020, the Constitutional Court of Turkey ruled that Kavala’s detention does not violate his right to liberty and security guaranteed under the Article 19 of the Constitution by 8 to 7 votes. The President of the Constitutional Court as well as 6 Court justices clearly put forward that the charges and the detention are incompatible with our Constitution and the norms of ECtHR. Chief Justice Zühtü Arslan said: “Let alone the strong indication of the existence of a charge of political or military espionage on which the applicant was arrested, not even a simple suspicion could be presented.”
The story of Osman Kavala’s detention is a remarkable example of the politicization of the judiciary and its use for political purposes. It is an example of the attempts to create crimes according to the person who is sought to be punished. It clearly shows how conspiracy theories can be used instead of evidence, ignoring not only legal norms but also the rule of reason.
Despite all sorts of injustice and adversity against him, Osman Kavala never gives up on his kindness or prioritizes his own situation, but keeps on drawing attention to the importance of judicial independence and rule of law. Although he has been held hostage for exactly four years for baseless, unjust and absurd reasons, he continues to fight wholeheartedly for the ideas he believes in. Even from the prison, he stays engaged and works together with us and keeps on doing good deeds.
I truly wish that he will soon be free and this injustice will come to an end.