Int. J. Middle East Stud. 34 (2002), 113–127.

Printed in the United States of America

Sam Kaplan

D I N - U D E V L E T A L L OV E R A G A I N ? T H E P O L I T I C S O F M I L I TA RY S E C U L A R I S M A N D R E L I G I O U S M I L I TA R I S M I N T U R K E Y F O L L OW I N G T H E 1 9 8 0 C O U P
Every Turk is born a soldier.1 Secularism is neither atheism nor animosity for religion. On the contrary it is respectful of religious feelings. But no pressure must be made in the name of any religion over someone’s individual conscience. The structure of Islam is secular.2 It is interesting that the front covers of all religion textbooks are adorned with a portrait of a thirty-five year old Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, wearing a bow tie and a tuxedo, whom ¨ the artists have depicted in the manner of a Sheikh ul-Islam. . . . Although you expect ¨ to see the bismillah [article of faith] on the first page of the religion textbook, you encounter a saying of Ataturk, followed by his “Speech to the Youth” and the words of ¨ the National Anthem.3

Current discussions on the political developments in Turkey frequently frame the struggles between the military and religious parties as a war between secularism and Islam and draw out incommensurable differences between the two sides. Indeed, the military establishment, which casts itself as the guardian of the secular republic, succeeded in 1997 in having the Supreme Court ban the Welfare Party, the first openly religious party ever to form a government in the Turkish Republic. The generals justified this seemingly undemocratic move by claiming that that this party was trying to reinstate the sacred shari a law. Although political rhetoric in Turkey often assumes a sharp difference between a secular and a religious vision of the nation, the military ideals that children learn at school suggest a more ambiguous relationship between these two adversarial worldviews. In fact, the curriculum emphasizes that the Turkish soldier is a pious defender of the nation. Clearly, Islamic rhetoric is used to valorize the military heritage in the national education system, and the question is how are we to account for this when the military establishment does its utmost to limit holders of religious worldviews from participating actively in national politics? At the core of the ambiguous relationship that the military maintains with the religious public have been ongoing struggles over the constitutive role of secularism in
Sam Kaplan is Assistant Professor, Department of Middle East Studies, Ben-Gurion University, Beer-sheva 84105, Israel; e-mail:  2002 Cambridge University Press 0020-7438/02 $9.50

114 Sam Kaplan Turkish society and the Turkish polity. In Turkey, where there is a strong state tradition, all interest groups, including the military, try to impose on the entire citizenry their specific understandings of modernity, social identities, and political authority. The controversy over secularism is most evident in the educational system. Because schools engage a captive audience, carry the weight of official approval, and impose specific interpretations on key social issues, they are widely perceived as defining national experience for schoolchildren. It is this systematic intervention into children’s subjectivities that has spurred the military to participate actively in shaping the curriculum at the same time that it attempts to forge a consensual understanding of state and society.4 After all, as the sociologist Charles Tilly has pointed out, a major activity of a state is war-making, but conscription alone does not create soldiers who are willing to sacrifice themselves for the state.5 By examining in detail the curriculum in the secular primary school, I will show how neither religious nor martial ideals can be understood as centuries-old traditions and customs; rather, they are constantly reworked within the social, political, and cultural transformations of the country. Since the 1970s and even more so after the 1980 coup, the military leaders have most often associated themselves with the rightof-center political spectrum—most notably, the religious sponsors of the “Turkish– Islamic Synthesis” (Turk ˙slam Sentezi) ideology. As a result of this alliance, the ¨ I country’s military leadership overtly approved of greater religious instruction in the secular-track school system. Moreover, together with the right-of-center political parties, these military leaders disseminated, through reworked textbooks and pedagogical directives, earlier myths and images to emphasize a particularly visceral collective representation—“the Turkish soldier, defender of the Muslim faith.” In effect, through the new curriculum they appear to have reinstituted the pre-Republican duality of state and faith—the din-u devlet—as a viable mechanism for political consensus. Yet, other factors show that this is not the case. The consensus over the religious orientation of the country’s schools does not extend to the shaping of the national elite. The highly prestigious military academies, whose graduates have become leaders in the country’s military, financial, and political domains, refuse to admit graduates of religious-track schools. The admissions criteria of these academies have provoked acrimonious debates about secularism and the role of the military in fashioning the country’s political culture and educational policies. My argument here is based both on written “ministerial” sources (textbooks, programs, circulars) and on data I collected during the course of two years of ethnographic research in the school system of a small town in southern Turkey I will call Yayla, where I conducted fieldwork between 1989 and 1991. My study on the politics of national education shows that religious and martial virtues are historically constituted through the school system and its curriculum. It also highlights the uneasy, complex relationship between the religious public and the military.

Studies about the pedagogical roles of the Turkish armed forces have confined their scope to how the military teaches literacy and “modern” practices to conscripted soldiers.6 Not enough attention, however, has been given to the various ways in which

Din-u Devlet All Over Again? 115 the state school system fosters identification with the military institution and values. As in many other countries, the curriculum in Turkey places emphasis on the fraternal person of the citizen-soldier, who metonymically embodies the united, sovereign national community. Not surprisingly, educational materials used in primary schools emphasize heroic episodes of Turkish military history, self-sacrifice for the nation, and pride in war heroes.7 Central to these martial virtues has been devotion to the national flag, whose white crescent and five-pointed star are placed on a red background. Since 1939, two years after the Turkish Parliament legislated the dimensions and spiritual importance of the flag, reading primers for elementary schools have been mandated to include passages that “inculcate feelings of respect and ties to the national flag.”8 The level of instinct on which these feelings are supposed to operate is made evident in the third-grade reader that was in use during the 1988–89 school year.9 In the reading passage, “For the Flag,” children are taught that the future of the nation is contingent on retrieval of the regiment’s flag from enemy hands. The narrated event occurred during the Turkish War of Liberation, but the moral is for all times: the flag is more valuable than the present-day children’s lives.
Sergeant Hasan: I am not worried that the enemy is closing in on us and will kill us. I regret that the regiment’s flag will pass into the hands of the enemy. . . . [Corporal Turgut dies retrieving the flag.] The flag wrapped tightly around him, the corporal hero lay dead. The moonlight hitting his clean forehead was announcing news of a happy tomorrow.10

The drawing that accompanies the text makes the image visually clear: a soldier lies dead with the flag covering his chest. Both text and artwork render the flag a metonym of the nation that is intended to induce children’s patriotic sentiments and loyalty to the state. The curriculum further situates the flag’s colors in a symbolic field of associations. Its crimson color is meant to evoke the blood shed by the schoolchildren’s warrior ancestors. The author of a currently used second-grade natural sciences primer indeed stresses this dimension of the flag: “Our beautiful fatherland is watered everywhere with the blood of our martyrs. For this reason our flag is holy. . . . It is our national honor.”11 As evident in the passage, children are expected to envisage the banner as the life-giving arteries of the national body. The schoolchildren, then, are expected to feel indebted to the blood their ancestors sacrificed on the battlefield. The textual accounts in their primers serve to bind the present schoolchildren to earlier generations of Turkish warriors, from the medieval epic heroes in the Book of Dede Korkut to the more recent soldiers at Canakkale ¸ (Gallipoli) and the War of Liberation in the 20th century. School primers belie a naive realism in which “textual” war veterans are bestowed with an authoritative voice to fashion the children’s collective memory. These veterans, most often portrayed as grandfatherly figures, become spokesmen in whom children must place their faith. In class, the children read out loud the narratives about Turkey’s military past and, in particular, how war veterans offered their lives for the future of the Turkish nation. Second-graders, for example, are (silent) interlocutors to the fictional amputee’s patriotism in the story “My Grandfather’s Arm.” The grandfather explains to his grandson how he lost his arm during the War of Liberation: “We died, we sacrificed our arms, we got wounded but we did not give up the hill to the enemy. We entered the war

116 Sam Kaplan dedicating ourselves for this fatherland.”12 By mimicking the family gathering where elders transmit their memories to the younger generations, these generic grandfathers textualize and thus impart an authoritative voice to otherwise fictional testimonies of the national past. Raised on these wartime narratives, every schoolchild is enjoined to model himself after the earlier exploits of his textbook elders. The schoolchildren’s kinship with the personal “life” of the self-sacrificing Turkish soldier, and their fictive genealogical connection with the textbook war veteran, provides a way for children to imagine and identify with a primordial military ethos common to all Turks. Here the association sought is that the Turkish people’s willingness to sacrifice themselves can be attributed to the military origins of the Turkish nation. Minister of Education Avni Akyol reaffirmed this position in his “Directive on Social Sciences” in the fourth and fifth grades for the 1990–91 school year, which circulated widely in the national education system. According to the directive, elementary-school students must learn in their social-science lessons that “they are children of a great nation with a glorious past and will increase their confidence in the nation’s future and acquire enough knowledge to risk their lives in order to realize the ideals of the Turkish nation. . . . They will willingly . . . see themselves as self-sacrificing Turkish youth.”13 That is, students should draw from their lessons that the Turks are born to serve in the military and die for their nation. This point is reiterated throughout their school years. Third-graders, for example, read that “We Turks give importance to military service. We are even known by the world nations as a nation of soldiers (asker bir millet). Military service is a holy duty to the country, ensuring protection of fatherland and nation. Every Turkish youth lovingly does this duty. The Glorious Turkish Army results from heroic soldiers. When we grow up we will become soldiers and take the duty of protecting our country.”14 This passage, like many others children encounter in their school years, is meant to socialize them for military service and allegiance to the state. Integral to the cultivated ideal of the soldier nation is the country’s “undefeated” battle record. Although textbooks eulogize the bravery and victory of the Turkish forces at Canakkale, a battle in which Mustafa Kemal Ataturk played a major com¸ ¨ manding role, they never explicitly admit to the ultimate defeat of the Ottoman armies in World War I. Rather, second-graders will have read that “our armies won victories on many fronts. At the end of the [world] war Germany was defeated and surrendered. Upon Germany’s surrender, we wanted peace too.”15 Victories validate the eternal strength of the Turks’ warrior state, the present Turkish nation. As one schoolteacher proudly told me, “[w]e are ‘the Turks who make the whole world tremble’; we’re the best in bed and at war.” To suggest otherwise is to undermine the emotional bond between virility and personhood, between heroic performance and national identity. It would, however, be amiss to assume that this military discourse is directed only at the boys, who are the future recruits of the Turkish armed forces. While men are expected to protect the nation, women are considered responsible for upholding national honor. A major theme in school readers centers on the girl whose chastity is threatened in wartime. Her duty is to avoid sexual contact with the enemy, even under duress. Third-graders, for example, are taught that death is preferable to loss of virginity. In the story “Huriye’s Spring,” pupils read that French soldiers invaded a small town in Anatolia and were intent on kidnapping the beautiful young protagonist. At

Din-u Devlet All Over Again? 117 the moment of abduction, rain began to fall, and the heroine beseeched Allah to “make me into water; let me disappear with the rain.”16 Allah complied. Huriye died a virgin and thus avoided shaming the Turkish nation. No less important a role for national survival is motherhood. At school, boys and girls learn to link men’s military deeds to women’s nurture. This lesson was impressed on fourth-graders in one of their readings, “Anatolia” (Anadolu). The author of the passage traces the etymology of the word “Anatolia” to a legend about a virtuous old woman who serves buttermilk to mobilized Ottoman soldiers. Every time she tells the ˘ soldiers “fill up my brave men” (doldurun yigitlerim), they answer “Mother, it is full” (Ana, dolu).17 What is relevant here is not the legendary etymology of the peninsula, but the links between milk and womanhood, on the one hand, and nationhood, on the other. In fact, in a class I attended, some seventh-graders added that mother’s milk gives strength to Turkish soldiers.18 The military themes taught at school thus often complement local perceptions of nature and nurture. Children at Yayla readily identify with military service and the Turkish people’s martial values. The following example comes from a middle-school child’s essay titled, “Our People,” and it allows one to gauge the children’s enthusiasm for his fellow countrymen’s heroism.
Our people, the people of Turkey, are great. The Turkish people’s holy symbol is our flag. The Turkish people’s anthem is the Independence Anthem. . . . The Turkish people are brave. They are also courageous. They do not even flinch at the greatest dangers. No matter how powerful the enemies are they never shirk from fighting. What comes to our mind at the mention of the “Turkish people” is courageous people.

Such a positive response to military service resonates with those stories about soldiers and women who in the distant and recent past fought for flag and country. Understood is that these textbook heroes and heroines who defended national honor fell for the future welfare of schoolchildren. In turn, the living generation must be willing to fulfill their patriotic duty, and, need be, sacrifice their lives, too. Not surprisingly, boys and girls overwhelmingly conceive military service as a “debt to the nation” (vatan borcu). In any case, teachers frequently remind schoolchildren that “duty to the fatherland is a duty of honor; martyrs do not die; the homeland will not be divided.”19

I N F L E C T E D N A R R AT I V E : T H E T U R K I S H S O L D I E R , D E F E N D E R O F T H E FA I T H

The master narrative, “a nation of soldiers,” has been a consistent feature of the curriculum since the republic. What is radically new since the 1980 coup is how the curriculum has integrated into this narrative a pre-republican concept of statecraft, the duality of state and religion (din-u devlet). This change in pedagogy has not been haphazard. Rather, it reflects the shift in the official cultural politics of the country since World War II and, even more so, following the coup of 1980, when the military junta allied itself with nationalist advocates of an Islamic social model, the Turkish– Islamic Synthesis. Thirty years ago, no observer of Turkish politics would have predicted such an about-face in the national educational system. During the single-party regimes of Ata-

118 Sam Kaplan turk and Ismet Inonu (1924–46), policy-makers either excised any pre-republican Is¨ ¨ ¨ lamic references or rendered them attributes of a modern nation-state in order to fashion a social memory that was completely divorced from the former Ottoman state.20 In any case, the study of Islam was progressively eliminated from the curriculum. By 1938, neither urban nor rural schools offered religious instruction.21 The introduction of multi-party elections in 1946 altered this secular policy, however. The newly formed Democrat Party (DP), a loose coalition of the national bourgeoisie and rural notables, actively appealed to the electorate’s religious sentiments. As a result, the government party, the Republican People’s Party, introduced religious classes for the fourth and fifth grades in 1949. The following year, the DP attained power and began to integrate Islamic religious symbols into the political culture of the country, ˙ in addition to opening Qur an courses and the religious-track Imam-Hatip junior and senior high schools.22 The new official attitude toward religion also affected the military. This was most evident when Turkey participated in the Korean conflict on the side of the Western allies. This was the first time that the Turkish army fought outside the country’s borders. The government publicly represented the bipolar Cold War as one between Muslim gazi warriors and atheist infidels, the communist forces. As Lord Kinross, who resided in Turkey at the time, stated, “[T]he Turkish troops in Korea fought in the name of Islam, attended religious services before going into battle, and were led (at least in the war posters) by officers carrying the Koran.”23 Before this religious shift gained momentum, the military overthrew the government in 1960. As Binnaz Toprak has observed, the junta accused the DP politicians of undermining the secular legacy of Ataturk.24 Before returning power to civilians, ¨ they had enacted a radically liberal constitution that promoted a democratic socialwelfare state. However, the new civil freedoms went in tandem with radicalization of the youth and labor force—and, in particular, Marxist organizations and parties that openly opposed their country’s membership in the Western military alliances NATO and CENTO.25 Military leaders began to reverse their attitude toward the use of religion in the official political culture; they soon found a religious turn to hold strategic value for their own interests. In the subsequent two decades, as civil violence erupted all over the country, the military mobilized “tradition”—and, specifically, the Islamic faith—to foster unity among citizens. Coincidental to this shift in the military’s attitude toward religion was the rise and influence of religious views in national politics. In this new political climate, two small parties emerged: Colonel Alpaslan Turkes’s Nationalist Action Party, which ¨ ¸ advocated the political union of all Turkic peoples within and outside Turkey, and Necmettin Erbakan’s National Salvation Party, which championed Islamic values for the moral and material rejuvenation of Turkey. Both parties entered into coalitions with the more mainstream parties. They held the swing votes in the deadlock politics between the left-of-center Republican People’s Party and the right-of-center Justice Party. In 1977, Erbakan and Turkes joined the Milliyetci Cephe (Nationalist Front), a ¸ ¨ ¸ coalition led by the Justice Party. Together, the two marginal parties successfully staffed the Ministry of Education with their supporters, all the while promoting a more positive assessment of the Ottoman Islamic heritage in the curriculum. No less important was the Turkish–Islamist Synthesis, a cultural program in which

Din-u Devlet All Over Again? 119 religious intellectuals advocated greater integration of Islamic values into the nation’s political culture. These nationalists worked out a cultural and social program against those who supported an Islamic state while dissociating themselves from Western secular humanism and individualism, which, they argued, were embedded in a lack of moral values that disrupted state order and national unity. To counter these Westernizing tendencies, they would plant the universal Islamic community in the geopolitical borders of the Turkish nation-state. In this schema, Islam gave the nation a powerful element of historical legitimacy and continuity.26 In this emerging political culture, the 1980 coup provided an opportune moment to reinvent a more religious Turkish polity. On 12 September 1980, the commander-inchief of the Turkish Armed Forces, Kenan Evren, and his colleagues imposed martial law on the whole country. To justify the coup, the junta charged that the civilian politicians were unable to govern the country and deal with the increasing breakdown of law and order.27 The army had intervened twice before, in 1960 and 1971, but this time the generals considerably tightened the institutional links between the armed forces and the national education system. Thus, before returning power to civilian politicians three years later, the military instituted a series of educational reforms that sought to prevent at all costs the consolidation of identities that threatened to fragment the nation into a politics of differences. Since 1980, there has been no place for leftist groups in the imagined state of the generals. In fact, the military held “communists” responsible for the political violence that plagued the country throughout the 1970s. A year and a half after the coup, the Ministry of Education’s defense secretary suggested that communists not only fostered class conflict but, even worse, also accentuated differences of identity among the people. As he stated, communists were “agent provocateurs” who fomented conflicts among the different Muslim sects and between the “so-called Kurdish citizens” and the rest of the population.28 My aim here is not to question the historical truth of these assertions. Rather, I intend to draw attention to how the same military adviser then went on to advocate that the best way to combat leftists was educating the youth in a nationalism predicated on Ataturkism (Ataturkculuk), which he defined with reference to the principles ¨ ¸¨ ¨ ¨ of the soldier-statesman Ataturk and to a nationalist interpretation of Islam. To achieve ¨ the desired national unity, the adviser endorsed faith as the “weapon” that could reunite the country. In a directive on “psychological warfare,” the military adviser to the Ministry of Education ended his list of effective “weapons” against outside provocation with the tenets of Islam: “Believe in the existence of Allah. Avoid the things forbidden in our religion and conform to its dictates.”29 And, as if to buttress his argument, the same adviser quoted the few instances in which Ataturk had publicly ¨ tempered his anti-religious policies:
Ataturk, speaking in 1930 on Islam, said that religion is a necessary institution. A nation with¨ out religion has no chance to survive. Only that religion [Islam] is a personal relation between Allah and the believer. The Turkish nation must be with all simplicity a religious nation. However much we place faith in the truth, so must we believe in our religion.30

In this way, the founding statesman’s words came to sanction the military leadership’s novel syncretism of religion and nationalism.

120 Sam Kaplan The religious orientation the military adopted for education manifested itself in the months following the coup. The National Security Council approved the opening of ˙ 92 new (religious-track) Imam-Hatip high schools, adding to the existing 249; at the ˙mam-Hatip middle schools were planned. Article 24 of the same time, 35 more I 1982 military-endorsed constitution provided an even more radical concession to the religious public: “Education and instruction in religion and ethics shall be conducted under State supervision and control. Instruction in religious culture and moral education shall be compulsory in the curricula of primary and secondary schools.” The article obligates all schoolchildren, from fourth grade until graduation from high ˆ school, to take “Religious Culture and Morals” (Din Kulturu ve Ahlak Bilgisi). The ¨ ¨ ¨ new course combined two previously separated subjects: the obligatory civics and the optional religion lessons.31 Until then, religious lessons were offered only from the fourth to seventh grades. The military’s goal was to prevent the growing polarization between youth educated in secular and religious schools by retaining children from “traditional” backgrounds in the secular-track school system. Furthermore, obliging citizens to accept the new curriculum was intended to foster greater social cohesion. As stated in a confidential report circulated among the members of the junta, “[T]he optional [religious] lessons negatively affected the relations among the students. . . . Fashioning a national culture was not achieved with the [previously optional] religion lessons.”32 Not surprisingly, military traditions and service in the armed forces are similarly portrayed as compatible, if not congruent, with Islam. This fit with the historical and social views of the Turkish–Islamic Synthesis, which both the military junta and subsequent right-of-center Motherland governments openly endorsed. Central to this ideology is the notion that prior to the Tanzimat (the introduction of Western institutions in the first half of the 19th century), the religious scholars and the Ottoman janissaries, the “ancestors” of the modern Turkish army, had supported each other.33 Indeed, the post-1980 curriculum reflects this link between the Turkish people’s martial spirit and their Islamic heritage. This was even more apparent with the educational reforms instituted by the ruling Motherland Party. In 1986, Minister of Education Vehbi Dincerler had all textbooks completely revised to conform with the tenets of ¸ the Turkish–Islamic Synthesis. The new texts extol the alliance between the military and religious as native to the Turks’ cultural essence. It is to this essential alliance that the author of the eighth-grade religion textbook wants to draw the attention of young readers:
The Turks are from birth a nation of soldiers. Islam also commands one to fight for the fatherland all the time. . . . Among the [pre-Islamic] settled Turks there were those adepts of the Zoroastrian, Buddhist, Manichean, Jewish, and Christian religions. Yet it is seen that these religions did not conform to the Turks’ spirit of warfare.34

Both the military ethos and the Muslim faith become timeless attributes of the Turkish people. Current textbooks graphically and textually immerse this ideal of the Muslim warrior into the moral universe of the modern Turkish child. The primers constantly appeal to narratives about the military exploits of the Anatolian Seljuks and Ottoman Turks. In this endeavor, textbook writers draw on the tradition of the gazi and sehit— ¸

Din-u Devlet All Over Again? 121 that is, the warrior fighting and the martyr dying, both on behalf of Islam. The martyr’s immediate reward is entry to Cennet, the Muslims’ Paradise. Fourth-graders, for example, vicariously relive the Seljuk Turks’ defeat of the Byzantine army at the battle of Manzikert/Malazgirt in 1071.35 In the passage “Forever Anatolia,” the children in the classroom are expected to take on the role of the Turkish warriors listening to their commanding sultan on the eve of battle:
My lions! No matter how few we are and how many the enemy are we will attack. Do not forget that right now all the Muslims are praying for us. Either we are gazi heroes or martyrs. If there is someone who wants to separate from us let him leave immediately. I am hence wearing the burial shroud of a martyr. I am no longer a sultan, just one of you. I pray to God that the victory is ours.36

In reinstating the pre-republican ideal of holy warfare (the gaza) in the curriculum, state educators are portraying commitment to the military heritage as a religious duty that extends into the present era. In this narrative mode, the devout Turkish mother is co-opted to the religious formulation of military service. Third-graders begin their reader with the text “Hennaed Mehmet.”37 As described in the text, a village mother smears henna on her son’s hands before his induction into military service. Henna is often applied on auspicious occasions—most notably, on the eve of a wedding, when the hands of groom and bride are smeared with it. Many townspeople in Yayla do likewise and believe that henna symbolizes the sacred soil of Paradise. The henna on the recruit’s hands visually marks him as one willing to sacrifice himself for the Muslim faith. He shares the lot of the religious gazi warriors and martyrs. The presumably urban/urbane officer in the third-grade text is ignorant of the custom, and the twenty-year-old recruit cannot explain his painted hands. The commander asks the son’s mother to explain. She dutifully writes to the officer:
We stain the sheep for sacrifice with henna so that they be a sacrifice to Allah. Also my son, we put henna on the young men who go to the army. We smear henna on them so that they may be a sacrifice to the fatherland. We sacrificed your grandfather in the Balkan Wars [in 1913] and your uncle at Canakkale. If it need be, my child, you will be a sacrifice for this ¸ fatherland.38

The text relates that the reply so moved the officer that his eyes welled with tears. Here, the traditional Turkish mother is the pedagogue of her son’s commander: she teaches him the religious foundations of military service, the relationship between Islam and self-sacrifice for the nation. The moral of such textbook passages for the pupils is obvious: they must be prepared to sacrifice themselves for their Muslim nation and state. This point is continuously brought up in civics education. Thus, in their civics lessons, eighth-graders are taught not only that national identity subsumes identification with Islam but also that the state is a religiously sanctioned institution: “the state from the religious point of view is an institution that Allah created for mankind’s benefit.”39 The secular polity becomes as inviolable as the sacred realm. It goes without saying that faith in the state includes total submission and obedience to the authorities, which in the context of post-1980 Turkey means the representatives of the armed forces and the civilian governments they subsequently approved. In the curriculum, state and statesmen met-

122 Sam Kaplan onymically represent each other, and both are religiously sanctioned. As is written in the eighth-grade reader on “Religious Culture and National Mores,” all children who consider themselves to be Muslims are expected to accept as truth that “we, the Turkish nation, love our state and our national existence in the person of the statesman. People who sacrifice their own existence for that of the nation and state are worthy to be loved and respected. They shoulder an important responsibility toward God in their duties.”40 The text ends with a personal plea to the male students: “my son, let him grow up and become a soldier. If he dies he will be a martyr for the faith; if he lives, a holy warrior.” Here, the textbook’s author explicitly makes the connection between patriotism and the future recruits’ religious identity. The particular religious interpretation of nationalism attempts to strengthen the sense of Turkish identity at the expense of one based on the universal Muslim community, the ummet. The ummet, however, has not been totally eliminated; it has been ¨ ¨ reinscribed within the Turkish national consciousness, providing for it a powerful element of historical legitimacy. Thus, schoolchildren are expected to take pride in how their ancestors militarily spread Islam all over the Middle East. In a worldview pitting nation against nation, Turkey emerges as the Muslim world leader. This is the tenor of “Directives on Basic Instruction of Ataturk’s Reforms and Principles for ¨ Primary and Secondary Schools,” which directs teachers and textbooks to stress “how the Turks have rendered military services throughout the history of Islam [and] how the Turkish War of Liberation was a victory for Islam.”41 The eighth-grade history book makes this point explicit: “[s]ince the day the Turkish nation accepted Islam it has sacrificed itself for this religion. It had taken upon itself to promote and defend Islam; it had established this religion in all parts of the old world and gave millions of martyrs to this religion.”42 If the Turkish Islamists have inserted their religious agenda into a curriculum that places heavy emphasis on the concepts of military pride and self-sacrifice to the nation, it is equally evident that the leaders of the armed forces have been a willing party in this new orientation in national education. Islam once more has become a foundation of the state and the state army, its defender. Such a reconfiguration of the tropes of religious-inspired military and martial religion has become central in the cultural politics of the current school system in Turkey.
T H E L A S T S E C U L A R R E F U G E : T H E M I L I TA R Y A C A D E M I E S

Despite this symbiosis, the relationship that the military has established with religious nationalists remains ambiguous. Consensus over cultural politics in the secular-track school system has not meant sharing the political space on an equal footing. The military is wary of the religious public infringing on its turf. In 1990, the struggle between the two camps revolved around admission to the highly prestigious, autonomous military academies. These elite institutions have yet to welcome religious stu˙ dents or their beliefs. Since 1983, graduates of the religious-track Imam-Hatip high schools have been eligible to enroll in all higher-education institutions, except military academies, which fall under the jurisdiction of the armed forces. Only graduates of the secular-track teachers’ colleges, high schools, and magnet Anatolian high schools have been permitted to apply. The academies provide some of the finest academic

Din-u Devlet All Over Again? 123 training available in the country and, most important, admission is free for capable children from very modest households. One cadet on leave in Yayla showed off to me his annual yearbook. It was an exact replica of a glossy-paged, American preparatory yearbook, including photos of modern computer and language laboratories. He boasted of his school’s television and film programs. Its Olympic sports facilities are unmatched in the nation’s universities. Moreover, a close-knit social network exists among graduates of the different military academies, many of whom have taken important posts in the military and elsewhere. Among the graduates are the military commanders who staged the 1980 coup. Staunch defenders of what they consider to be Ataturk’s secular policies, the mili¨ tary regents do not welcome religious students in their academic institutions. Religious parliamentarians have been trying to finesse the entrance requirements via legal means ˙ so that graduates of the religious-track Imam-Hatip high schools can enroll in these prestigious and powerful academies. In the fifth five-year government plan (1985–89), ˙ these parliamentarians established the magnet “Anatolian Imam-Hatip” high schools. Its graduates can theoretically enroll in military academies, like their counterparts from the secular-track Anatolian high schools.43 The military has successfully countered this move by periodically identifying and expelling students with religious beliefs. As a result, religious statesmen and intellectuals have taken the issue directly to the public. One widely publicized example of such criticism appeared in the religious ¨ ˘ ˙ newspaper Zaman.44 Omer Okcu, better known as Hekimoglu Ismail, a journalist and ¸ the author of the religious best-seller Abdullah of Miniye, criticized the entrance requirements of military academies and suggested that the military elite pursues a life of loose morals. The journalist, who had served as a tank officer, implied that the members of the armed forces were sinners. He wrote, “Take, take my son to the Military Academy. Take just a few who don’t drink alcohol, don’t gamble; take just a few who pray and fast” (see n. 44). Given the military’s attempts to disseminate a ˘ more religious cultural agenda in national education, Hekimoglu’s accusations were not taken lightly. The author and his newspaper editor were fined for defamation. Journalists are not alone in questioning the military academies’ entrance policies. ˙ At the youth coffee house in Yayla, a local graduate of an Imam-Hatip high school, who had applied to the academies, bitterly vented about the rejection of his candidacy. ˙ As he put it, “Aren’t we, the graduates of the Imam-Hatip high schools, children of this country? Didn’t God create us, too? If there’s a topic that warrants debate, it’s that ˙ us graduates of Imam-Hatip high schools are not admitted into military academies. All those leftists who cry out for more freedoms keep mum on this topic. They don’t believe in equal opportunities in education.” To this embittered youth, the military not only fails at redressing social wrongs; it also upholds the country’s inequalities. Equally problematic for the religiously observant public is what they perceive to be the military’s pro-Western, secular stance in the national culture. Ironically, the generals’ self-professed “progressive” identity is depicted as senility. The same youth showed me a cartoon that had appeared in the militant religious satirical journal Cıngar and illustrated the religious sector’s perceptions of the military.45 The visual puns play on multiple verbal references that validate subaltern readings of society. In the cartoon, a tottering general bedecked with medals and a young soldier are strolling

124 Sam Kaplan in an apple orchard as the former says, “Soldier, come with me. Let’s walk a bit in the garden. . . . Look at those pear trees. Who knows what they would say if they had tongues.” The soldier thinks, “Most likely, they would say we’re not pear trees; we’re apple trees.” The cartoonist plays on a common Turkish expression, “A pear tree does ˘ not bear apples” (armut agacı elma vermez), which means that one cannot expect a person to do what is not natural to him. Drawing on the cartoon, the youth suggested that the military was out of touch with the public’s religious values and compared the generals to bears, popularly understood as slow-witted creatures who cannot distinguish between right and wrong. Rather, as he put it, they constantly push secular modernization at the expense of the country’s Islamic heritage. Clearly, the youth was associating the military with leftists in his portrayal of both groups as those who contradict national interest.

Thus, through the curriculum, military and civilian officials in Turkey set out to forge powerful emotional bonds between the army and the civilian population, to persuade the youth to defend and, if need be, die for the Turkish nation. Moreover, the military consciously reformulated devotion to the armed forces according to new social contingencies. Three years after the 1980 coup, the generals handed over state institutions to civilian politicians; however, they made sure to remain major cultural brokers of the national polity, including mass education. Intent on structuring their conception of the ideal citizenry—an obedient “civilian” population that totally identifies with the armed forces—the generals co-opted the citizens’ Islamic heritage to foster national unity. By forging an alliance with the religious sponsors of the Turkish–Islamic Synthesis, the military set about reinventing a more politically docile Turkish polity.46 In turn, the civilian governments led by the Motherland Party pursued this policy further and recycled, as it were, the formerly Ottoman dyad of din-u devlet, “state and religion,” in which each citizen-child learns to identify himself or herself as the defender of the faith. Although the military—self-proclaimed champion of Ataturk’s secular ¨ republicanism—continues to oppose overtly religious political parties, it has sponsored the reintegration of Islamic religious studies into the national educational system. What is less clear is the extent to which the religious nationalists and the military will work out their differences in the public sphere. In 1910, Captain Townshend, British Vice-Consul at Mersin, asserted that “‘Ben asker im’ [I am a soldier] is, next to the statement that he has made his pilgrimage to Mecca, the proudest remark that a Turk can make.”47 Today, still, many citizens of the secular Turkish Republic readily identify themselves as Muslims and Turkey as a nation of warriors. These two identities are evident in an essay on “My People” I assigned while teaching local schoolchildren in Yayla in 1990. Orhan, then thirteen years old, wrote, “My people are a very good people. They came from Central Asia and began to settle in Anatolia after the victory at Malazgirt. My people’s religion is Islam. . . . My people are very much devoted to the fatherland. At war, women, children and men fight together.” The religious and martial values Orhan juxtaposed in his essay cannot be understood as simply perpetuating centuries-old ideals. The relationship between “secular-

Din-u Devlet All Over Again? 125 ist” and “religious” political agendas and their dissemination through the national education system, which I have traced here, reveals a radically different context from that summarized by Captain Townshend almost a century ago. In fact, the military elites and the religious nationalists battle over the political culture of the country. Each side is trying to persuade the public to ratify and participate in its proposed national community. In this ongoing war of positions, the Turkish people’s Islamic heritage has been presented as a source of unity in the school system. Nevertheless, it remains most contested.

Author’s note: I thank in particular the editor for encouraging me to rethink some early ideas and for generous comments and assistance on the present version. Yesim Arat, Nathan J. Brown, Tania Forte, ¸ Alejandro Paz, Haggay Ram, Dror Ze’evi, and the anonymous reviewers commented helpfully on the penultimate draft; I am grateful to them all. The research on which the essay is based was supported by a Fulbright-Hays fellowship (1989–90). None of these persons or agencies would necessarily endorse the views presented here. 1 “Every Turk is born a soldier” is a commonly used saying. 2˙ ˘ ˆ ˆ Ismet Parmaksızoglu, Ortaokul Turkiye Cumhuriyeti ˙nkılap Tarihi ve Ataturkculuk (Istanbul: Millı I ¨ ¨ ¸¨ ¨ ˘ Egitim Basımevi, 1987), 168. 3 ˘ Abdurrahman Dilipak, Bu din benim dinim degil: “resmi din” ogretisine elestirel bir yaklasım (Istanbul: ¨˘ ¸ ¸ ˙saret-Fersat Ortak Yayınları, 1990), 54–55. I¸ ¸ 4 Elsewhere, I show that other social groupings that identify with secularism—most notably, liberal industrialists and state socialists—advance their own pedagogical ideals in the school system, as do those who espouse a religious worldview: see Samuel W. Kaplan, Education and the Politics of National Culture in a Turkish Community, circa 1990 (unpublished diss., University of Chicago, 1996). 5 Charles Tilly, “War Making and State Making as Organized Crime,” in Bringing the State Back In, ed. Peter B. Evans, Dietrich Reuschemeyer, and Theda Skocpol (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 169–87. In Turkey, military service is obligatory for all men who turn twenty; they serve eighteen months. 6 See Daniel Lerner and Richard D. Robinson, “Swords and Ploughshares: The Turkish Army as a Modernizing Force,” World Politics 13 (1960): 19–44; Paul Dumont, “Islam as a Factor of Change and Revival in Modern Turkey,” in Turkic Culture: Continuity and Change, ed. Sabri M. Akural (Bloomington: Indiana University Turkish Studies, 1987), 3–5; Mehmet Ali Birand, Shirts of Steel: An Anatomy of the Turkish Armed Forces, trans. Saliha Paker and Ruth Christie (London: I. B. Tauris, 1991), 122–23; and Emma Sinclair-Webb, “Our Bulent is Now a Commando: Military Service and Manhood in Turkey,” in Imagined ¨ Masculinities: Male Identity in the Modern Middle East, ed. Mai Ghoussoub and Emma Sinclair-Webb (London: Saqi Books, 2000), 65–92. 7 ˙ ˆ ˘ ˘ For example, in the fourth-grade reader Ilkokul Turkce Ders Kitabı 4 (Istanbul: Millı Egitim Bakanlıgı ¨ ¸ Yayınları, 1990), eight texts in a total of fifty-one refer to soldiers’ exploits and self-sacrificing deeds. 8 “Directive on Composition of Reading Primers for Elementary Pupils, School Years 1939–1940, 1940– ˘ 1941, 1941–1942,” Tebligler Dergisi (Communications Journal; hereafter, TD) 1, no. 7 (February 1939): 19. See also “Directives for the School Year 1981–1982, 14 August 1981, #2224-81,” TD 44, no. 2093: 293. Since 1939, the biweekly TD has reported all of the decisions of the Ministry of Education. These reports reveal the range and type of discourses existing at different socio-historical moments: ministers’ speeches, national education conferences, organization of different school programs, criteria for selection of curricula, staff, and primers. 9 My point is to bring out the ways in which textbooks are composed to constitute their audience as an ideal Turkish citizen and soldier. Obviously, reception of these narratives is a far more complex and contested process. 10˙ ¨ ˘¨ ˘ Ismail Aydogdu, ed., Turkce ˙lkokul 3 (Ankara: Ogun Yayınları, 1986), 106–7. ¨ ¸ I 11 ˆ ˘ ˘ Hayat Bilgisi 2 (Istanbul: Millı Egitim Bakanlıgı Yayınları, 1992), 63. 12˙ ¨ ˘¨ ˘ Ismail Aydogdu, ed., Turkce ˙lkokul 2 (Ankara: Ogun Yayınları, 1986), 232. ¨ ¸ I

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TD 53, 2315 (25 June 1990): 457–58. ˆ ˘ ˘ Hayat Bilgisi ˙lkokul 3 (Istanbul: Millı Egitim Bakanlıgı Yayınları, 1991), 63. I 15 Hayat Bilgisi 2, 52. 16˙ Ilkokul Turkce Ders Kitabı 3 (Istanbul: Media Print, 1990), 44. ¨ ¸ 17˙ Ilkokul Turkce Ders Kitabı 4, 12. ¨ ¸ 18 Townspeople of Yayla associate male virility with abundance of blood and semen and, moreover, believe that a man’s semen originates in the mother’s breast milk, which is assumed to be derived from the ˘ ˘ ˆ menstrual blood that is not shed during pregnancy. See Orhan Turkdogan, “Dogu Anadolu’da tıbbı folklor ¨ ˘ acısından saglık-hastalık sistemi uzerine bir arastırma,” Turk dunyası arastırmaları 52 (1988): 25. ¨ ¨ ¸ ¸ ¸ ¨ 19 Vatan borcu namus borcu, sehitler olmez, vatan olmez. ¨ ¨ ¸ 20 Henry Elisha Allen, The Turkish Transformation: A Study in Social and Religious Development (unpublished diss., University of Chicago, 1930); Kirby Page, “Nationalism Interprets Islam,” Christian Century, vol. 47 (1930), 113–14. 21 Howard Reed, “Secularism and Islam in Turkish Politics,” Current History 32 (1957): 333–38; P. Xavier Jacob, L’enseignement religieux dans la Turquie moderne (Berlin: Klaus Schwarz Verlag, 1982), 116. 22 Idem, “Turkey’s new Imam-Hatip schools,” Welt des Islam 4 (1956): 152. 23 John Patrick Kinross, Within the Taurus (London: John Murray, 1954), 21. 24 Binnaz Toprak, “The State, Politics, and Religion in Turkey,” in State, Democracy and the Military: Turkey in the 1980s, ed. Metin Heper and Ahmet Evin (New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1988), 123. 25 Feroz Ahmad, The Turkish Experiment in Democracy 1950–1975 (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1977), 294–95. 26 Bozkurt Guvenc et al., Turk-Islam sentezi (Istanbul: Sarmal Yayınevi, 1991); for a good analysis of ¨ ˙ ¸ ¨ the Turkish–Islamic Synthesis in English, see Paul J. Magnarella, “State Politics: Desecularization, State Corporatism, and Elite Behavior in Turkey,” in Human Materialism: A Model of Sociocultural Systems and a Strategy for Analysis (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1993), 87–113. 27 Between 1971 and 1980, there had been no fewer than nine coalition governments, and civil violence— first in the cities and university campuses, and later in villages and public schools—had claimed thousands of lives. In the two years preceding the coup, more than 5,000 people were killed, an average of twenty deaths daily. Not surprisingly, most citizens welcomed the military intervention. 28 “From Defense Secretariat of Ministry of Education: Public Institutions and National Unity,” TD 45, 2105 (1 February 1982): 69. 29 “Memo from Defense Secretariat Attached to the Ministry of Education: Psychological Warfare and Psychological Defense,” TD 45, 2105 (1 February 1982): 77. 30 Ibid., 76. 31 ˆ Morals lessons (ahlak dersi) were made mandatory in 1974, following a coalition agreement between the left-of-center Republican People’s Party and the religious National Salvation Party. 32 Nokta, 26 March 1989. 33 Guvenc et al., Turk-Islam sentezi, 210. ¨ ¸ ¨ 34 ˆ ˘ ˆ Cihad Tunc, Ortaokullar icin Din Kulturu ve Ahlak Bilgisi 3 (Istanbul: Millı Egitim Basımevi, 1987), ¨ ¨ ¨ ¸ ¸ 115. 35 The Seljuks’ victory heralded the Turkish tribesmen’s settlement of Anatolia. 36˙ Ilkokul Turkce Ders Kitabı 4, 132. ¨ ¸ 37 The generic name for soldier in Turkey is Memetcik, which derives from Mehmet. “Mehmet” here ¸ metonymically refers to all soldiers. 38˙ ˆ ˘ ˘ Ilkokul Turkce Ders Kitabı 3 (Istanbul: Millı Egitim Bakanlıgı Yayınları, 1990), 15; the text uses the ¨ ¸ term “kurban verdik,” which literally means “we gave as sacrifice [the male family members].” On the Feast of Sacrifice, an animal (usually a sheep) is sacrificed in commemoration of the prophet Ibrahim, who had been ready to sacrifice his son Ishmail for Allah. 39 ˆ ˘ Vatandaslık Bilgisi orta 3 (Istanbul: Millı Egitim Basımevi, 1987), 72. ¸ 40 Tunc, Ortaokullar icin Din Kulturu , 89. ¨ ¨ ¨ ¸ ¸ 41 “Directives on Basic Instruction of Ataturk’s Reforms and Principles for Primary and Secondary ¨ Schools”; TD 45, no. 2104 (18 January 1982): 38. 42 ˘ I ˆ Parmaksızoglu, ˙nkılap, 145. Emphasis on how Turks contributed to world and Islamic civilization has been standard practice since the beginning of the Republic. What is novel here is bringing up Turkish
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Din-u Devlet All Over Again? 127
martyrdom for Islam without considering the historical context. See, for example, “On Composition of History Textbooks for Elementary Schools, 1939–1940, 1940–1941, 1941–1942 School Years,” TD 1, no. 7 (13 February 1939): 19; “Social Sciences Program in Middle School,” TD 37, no. 1806 (16 September 1974): 360. 43 Gunes, 21 November 1990. ¨ ¸ 44 Zaman, 30 January 1990. 45 Cıngar, 28 December 1990. In 1990, the religious press came out with several militant satirical journals to compete with the long-established Gırgır, which often attacks the growing influence of the religious public in education and national politics. The name Cıngar, which means “a noisy dispute,” suggests its polemical stance. 46 In effect, the Turkish armed forces’ interventions in the country’s cultural politics aptly corresponds to Foucault’s episteme of the “military dream of society” whose “fundamental reference [is] to permanent coercions, . . . to automatic docility”: Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of a Prison, trans. Alan Sheridan (New York: Vintage Books, 1979), 169. 47 A. F. Townshend, A Military Consul in Turkey: The Experiences and Impressions of a British Representative in Asia Minor (London: Seeley, 1910), 161.

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