The Moslem World/Volume 11/Number 2/What Is It the Moslems Want?
What Is It the Moslems Want?
The following is a summarized translation from the Echo de l'Islam (Paris, Oct. 20) dealing with the unrest in Turkey, which is attributed to the Sevres Treaty. The article is signed by Ali Bayrak. He states that the injuries suffered by Turkey are felt and resented in all the Mohammedan world, for they appreciate the fact that in Turkey they lose the most vital defender of their faith. The Moslem world, with the exception of a certain unimportant number, who are mainly in the pay of the English, see the necessity for the upholding of the Ottoman Caliphate. He goes on to say that even the Arab tribes, who under the dominion of the Turks were in constant revolt against the authority of Constantinople, are now ranging themselves on the side of the Caliphate. India and Central Asia are aroused; Egypt rejects the proposals of the Milner Commission; Mesopotamia is in revolt; Kurdistan will accept no government other than that of the Sultan; Asia Minor is all against European Imperialism. In face of all this one can scarcely regard such a movement as factitious or superficial. With regard to their grievances the writer says: "What the propaganda of the Young Turk Movement had failed to attain, the Greeks—in his opinion the last nation in the world to whom such concessions should have been made—have been able to carry through." He points out in proof the presence of the Greeks in Asia Minor and especially Smyrna, which since the earliest periods of history have been the inviolable home of the Asiatic races. The occupation of Adrianople—the Holy City—regarded as the last fortress of the Khaliphate; the fact that the Sultan Khalif is to all intents a prisoner, while the heir apparent is literally confined to his palace, where he is ever watched; all this has resulted in binding together more firmly than ever Moslem interests and concentrating all the hatred of the East toward the West.
Although still in its youth he is very hopeful of the success of the Pan-Islamic movement and he warns us that the day will come when the world will be forced to acknowledge its strength. The seed is sown, "le temps fera desorlais son oeuvre."
He pleads that the Moslems are not asking for anything that is contrary to the principles and ideals which the Entente Powers have called forth and have themselves inspired, since it was these very ideals that the Moslems have fought for during the last fifty years all over the world and especially during the recent war. They say: You have promised that you would not touch our Khalifate and the Khalif is today a prisoner of your troops in Constantinople. You have promised to respect our sacred places; but Mecca, Medina and Kerbala, which should be under the protection of the Khalif—the Servant of the Holy Places — have been placed under the government of your paid creatures. The Europeans would have been none the worse for allowing these holy cities to be under the direct government of the Khalif, nor would they have menaced the security and advantages of those provinces which the Europeans have seized for themselves out of the Ottoman Empire. The Moslem conception of the Khalif, the writer points out, is different from that of the Christian conception of the Pope, for the Khalif is not regarded as spiritual priest alone, but also as earthly king and as long as the Europeans do not appreciate this distinction there can be no peace between Moslem and Christian.
Unhappy Islam, Ali Bayrak cries, forced back to its last resources, threatened in its very cradle and its holy sanctuaries, defends its rights and will go on doing so; and it will be a shame after all the concessions it has made to Europe if the last vestiges of its independence incarnated in its Sultan-Khalif of Stamboul are taken away
It would be well if Europe's chancelleries would give as much con sideration to these pleas as they do to the reports of their young men, who are by no means infallible, and to the decisions of their old men, who look at today's problems through the spectacles of six years ago.