Jan 19 2018

Turkish historian says Westerners misrepresent Ottomans and Erdoğan

A Turkish historian said Western historians painted the Ottoman sultan Abdul Hamid II in a bad light, and are similarly biased against Turkey’s current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Ahmet Şimşirgil, a historian at Erdoğan’s alma mater Marmara University, was quoted by Turkish news channel CNNTurk as saying, “some people in Turkey assume reading Turkish history from foreign sources is an advantage... but they tamper with our history, our language and our religion... they have distorted our history.”

“Why should an American write my history?” Şimşirgil asked during a panel in central Anatolian city of Konya. Turkish people should question the Western sources, he said.

“It is not a coincidence that the words used against Abdul Hamid II are now being used against Erdoğan,” the Turkish historian said.

“This is the result of his firm stance against the rest of the world, and his revolt against oppression,” he said.

Speaking at the same panel, the mayor of Seydişehir district of Konya, Mehmet Tutal, also said there are similarities between Abdul Hamid II and President Erdoğan.

Turkey’s pro-government media portrays Abdul Hamid II (1842-1918) as a leader that united Ottomans under pan-Islamism and drew parallels with Erdoğan’s revisionist neo-Ottomanist discourse.

Most of the historical writing about Abdul Hamid II notes his early progressive agenda, such as introducing the first Ottoman constitution and the parliament in 1872, and his later turn into a more authoritarian ruler by the abolishment of the parliament and bloody suppression of nationalist revolts throughout the empire.