Christians in Medieval Anatolian Popular Narratives

Speaker: Mihajlo Bozovic

Title: Christians in Medieval Anatolian Popular Narratives

Date: 22.03.2017 14.00

Abstract: Islamization of Anatolia in the pre-Ottoman period that ranges from the first coming of Turkish nomads in 11th century until the rise of Ottoman state in 14th century represents one of the core aspects of transformation of Anatolia and one of the greatest changes in history. In this paper we would like to concentrate on determining ethnical, religious and social identification of Christian Anatolian population on the basis of the popular narratives of Anatolia like Battal-name, Danishmend-name and Saltuk-name.Focal point of the work would be the perception of Muslim Anatolian population of their Christian counterparts in terms of intercommunal and interreligious interactions

Short Bio: Mihajlo Bozovic graduated from the Department of Oriental studies of Faculty of Philology in Belgrade. At the same department we obtained his master’s degree by completing his thesis with the title: “Anatara ibn Shedad al-Absi: from reality to myth”. Since 2012 he has been a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Philology in Belgrade. The same year he was awarded a scholarship from the Ministry of Education and as such he is included in an ongoing research project titled “Christian culture on the Balkans in Middle Ages: Byzantine Empire, Serbians and Bulgarians from 9th till 15th century”. Mihajlo Bozovic is currently living in Istanbul, Turkey where he is a PhD candidate at the Alliance of Civilizations Institute.



To our international students, friends and partners around the world:

A military coup attempt happened in Turkey on July 15, 2016. Turkish people displayed a heroic and instant resistance against it and successfully defeated it. The aborted coup attempt and its aftermath proved once again that the will of the people will always prevail over the junta rule and the anti-democratic movements. Military coups took over the government in Turkey several times. But none was as bloody as this recent attempt. Nor was there such a comprehensive and swift social resistance against them. Right at the first hour of the military intervention people rushed to the streets in support of the government they elected to defend democracy and their freedom. The coup plotters used tanks, helicopters, fighter jets and even heavy artillery to bomb the parliament, government buildings, police headquarters, city halls and the demonstrators in major cities. The junta ruthlessly ordered the soldiers to open fire against the innocent and unarmed protesters. During the initial stages of the clashes between the soldiers and the people, 238 (171 civilians, 62 police, 5 soldiers) people became martyrs and 2191 were severely injured. But as the people relentlessly stood—at the expense of their lives—on the side of democracy and freedom, the coup attempt was defeated. This was a major victory; freedom triumphed over tyranny and military junta.
As time passed, investigations demonstrated without any doubt, along with countless evidence and confessions, that this plot was organized by a group of people forming a global clandestine society and cult variously known as Hizmet or Gulen Movement, around a preacher called Fethullah Gulen who was seen by his followers the expected Mahdi of the end of the time. This cultish group is now classified as a terrorist organization with its Turkish acronym, FETO (Fethullah Terrorist Organization). The aborted coup attempt by FETO unmasked the real identity and intentions of the Gulen movement which has deceived world public opinion as a tolerant, moderate and peaceful voluntary movement with no interest in politics. It became clear that Gulen movement used deception to hide its real goal to take over democratically elected government via a bloody military coup. Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), after facing the defeat in their attempt for military coup and total rejection by Turkish people from all political wings, is now trying to deny and distort the truth about what happened. We have full confidence that their attempts to distort the truth will also fail and the world public will get to know the truth about their hidden agenda. It is up to us to change the narrative about the place and the events we live in.
Alliance of Civilizations Institute (ACI) condemns this act of aggression and terror against human dignity, an act that aimed to deny the right to rule by a legitimately elected government. In support of Turkish democracy all political parties in the parliament and different sections of the Turkish society were united in order to stand against the military coup. However, we need to further explain a few things so that the present situation is not misunderstood. First of all, law and order has been swiftly restored and the daily life continues as usual. Education goes on as usual in all universities without any disruption. Secondly, in order to ensure security, the government declared a state of emergency. This is not to be confused with martial law which requires military presence on the streets. State of emergency is declared in times of civil unrest, and during natural disasters. At the moment there is no civil unrest anywhere in Turkey but in order to stop any military interference the state of emergency facilitates the government to take swift decisions and actions. The state of emergency in Turkey is just the same as the ones Belgium and France declared after the terror attacks. This will also allow the government to crack down clandestine organizations within the state bureaucracy, judiciary, army, police and academia which helped the coup attempt behind the scenes, supported it by various means of public propaganda and also provided financial support.
It has been proven that the FETO had been infiltrating all these government sectors, including academia, by manipulating the centrally organized national examination system, stealing questions and providing them to its members, unrightfully promoting its affiliate academics for decades. Not only national but a reputed international examination like the IELTS in Turkey was manipulated by the FETO members to provide their academics necessary scores to get appointed to state and private universities. But unfortunately complaints and charges so far had been suppressed by the affiliated members of the judiciary.
It is also important to see that the organization strategically refused accountability and politically responsibility. It refused to become subjected to democratic checking mechanisms while still accumulating unprecedented amount of political power for a supposedly nonpolitical organization through infiltrating the Turkish bureaucracy. It exercised its power by blackmailing political leaders, plotting against army officers thanks to their assets in intelligence offices. Meanwhile they continued to pretend to be a non-political movement through a network of NGO’s, which were centrally controlled by the FETO – essentially contradicting the spirit of civil society. Such an organization can by no means be described as a peaceful religious or civil movement. Infiltration, secrecy, disguise, and absolute obedience are key words that constituted the ethos of Gülen’s apparatus. This point had been a concern to many conservative Turkish people, whom the FETO had been targeting by using its so-called educational institutions, which proved to have been operating a recruitment machine for the organization both in Turkey and abroad. Rather than being a civil society organization or pressure group, the FETO proved to be a centrally and hierarchically organized clandestine organization that intended to suppress the free-will of the Turkish people as represented in its elected parliament and government. The long concealed aim of the organization to bypass the will of people became crystal clear on the night of 15th July leaving no place for doubt.
We have every faith in the Turkish democratic system, that those who want to remove Turkey’s elected leaders will be identified, given fair trials and taken from their positions shortly. We have all the hope and full confidence that united we, together with our faculty, students and international partners, will continue to stand for democracy and overcome the challenges we face in defending human rights, dignity and academic freedoms. Using this opportunity, we would like to express our heart-felt thanks and deepest gratitude to all our international partners and friends around the globe for their support during these turbulent times. Together we stand to build our destiny with our free will.