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Does Your Country Have a “Race Issue”?


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Does your country have a “race issue”?

The concept of race is an indicative of ignorant in based of to fear of someone that is different. Racism has been existed throughout of centuries all around the world. At first racism has been seen in America than it spread to Europe, Middle East and Turkey. Racism divides people into the “them” and “us” based on what our skin of color, religion of what we believe and a place where we came from. However, in Turkey racism is generally based on political, national and religious issues. In the history of Turkey racism has started in the Ottoman Empire in 1860 based on Ali Suavi who was a Turkish intellectual in Ottoman. There are tens of different nations live in Turkey like Armenians, Bosnians, Syrians, Kurds, Albanians and so many others. Sometimes some of these nations live in peace and harmony but unfortunately they may fight with each other for some reasons. Firstly, racism has started in the Ottoman Empire in 1915 and even today it is still continuing. Throughout the history of Turkey, racism and ethnic discrimination was widespread in Turkish communities, that racism and ethnic discrimination against minorities who are not Muslim and non-Sunni. In 1915 during the World War I, Relocation laws enacted by military forces to take precaution against those who opposing the government implementations at war which were applied to the Ottoman Armenians. After Tehcir law deportations and massacres was continues till accepting of "Temporary Law of Expropriation and Confiscation," specification that grant privileges to Armenians. However after a century later still Turkish people are against to Armenians but not only with laws or massacres but also invisible ostracism by the society. Based on Relocation law, Ottoman Empire on facade applied to secure the rest of the nations of evaluating an internal conflict that took place between stances and claimed that the government is not in this direction. Many Muslims also advocates that starting the rebellion of the massacre by Armenians, that they killed the Ottoman citizens at first. Based on Sedat Laciner (2014) “As we can say widely accepted on the total number of Armenians history deaths was 1 to 1.5 million people however, in Turks was 10 to 350 thousand. As it is known that the population of Armenians living within the Ottoman boundaries was not even 1,5 million and most of Armenians have safely reached their destination, so we can see that Ottoman was permitted Armenians to discharge their country before the genocide”. The Turkish government made a discrimination between Turks and Armenians, Jews and Kurds. The Turkish government has made discrimination between Muslims and Non-Muslims, Armenians, Jews and Christians after the Establishment of Turkish Republic in 1923. Also the French Revolution is the beginning of political segregation in Turkey. The right view and left view in Turkey has started with French Revolution since 1789. In todays Turkey we can describe right wings that generally represents Muslim actions opposite of left wings. In the early 20th century, president of Turkey, which was Atatürk, has the owner of this racism problem because he removed the caliphate system in Ottoman that was governed by Muslim rules and made revolutions of Atatürk, which was separated the government from the religions. However this changing caused racism and antagonizes people in Turkey. Laic and conservatism people are wholly opposed to each other and we can also call Islam and secularism. Because of this separation both sides has really strict aspects of about their religions and political views. Results of these extremism aspects, people discriminate against other people based on their prejudices. However, in Turkey this race issue usually up to religions that people believe. For example, Laic people have racial prejudice on Muslim people and which they always call them rightist. Seculars label Muslims as conservations because of their appearance, such as from their clothes and facial hair. Turkey has 2 major parties, which are AKP and CHP. These parties both represent right side (AKP) and a left side (CHP), which are having totally opposite perspectives. These aspects lead to cause of racism issue between Laics and Muslims. The political history of single party began in 1923 when Ottoman Empire wiped out and Turkish Government started instead of Ottoman. However, foundation of single party brings with educational and linguistic problems. In 1928 Atatürk was changed the Ottoman alphabet just in a one night instead of Latin alphabet and named Atatürk’s alphabet revolution. “However with this reform Atatürk wanted to stress the principle of separation of religious and lay societies” (Landau, 1984, p. 36). When he was changing Arabic letters he shows with his acts that he also against to Muslim alphabet because, Muslim’s letter came from Arabic letters. In the early 20th century education system was changed from eastern to western. Atatürk’s Revolutions spearhead of the racism because of his new rules about education. In Turkey if you were a girl and having an education, you should turn off your scarf in the school till R. Tayyip Erdoğan. However, in this part frustrating students who’s wearing scarf because of her religion is the most significant part. Because if you disfranchise a society’s right to attend a school, it means you are the one who segregate people. Social norms that people have affects on their behave to each other. “Psychological factors and attitudes develop over time with the accumulation of experience and associations. They are inherently functional and they help us orient ourselves to others and the environment in ways perceived to benefit us. Depends on our changing attitude towards people and objects are affect to drag world in chaos. Thus, there are usually more complex and nuanced attitudes over time, slowly advances; attitudes rapid, wholesale changes are rare.” (Mills, 2009, p.28) Our values and judgments that we have drag us to discrimination. In today’s Turkey we can see clearly the main reason of racism and discrimination problem originate from perceptual biases that Turks make. Not only Turks but also everyone in each country are making a discrimination even in their mind is causes from the reason of prejudices that people have in their social life. “The backbone of citizenship education in Turkey is developing towards being a Turk. " Andımız”, as exemplified that, walking in the footsteps of Atatürk as implied; it seems quite heroic and almost sacred in nature. Moreover, this activity is one of the duties of the Turkish citizens held exempt. The consequence of this exemption and non-participation is that “the other” is not considered to be part of the Turkish citizenry” (Heidi Biseth, 2013, p.76). Education in Turkey has made racism for many years because students have to sing a March name of “Andımız” which is made from Atatürk. This national oath that all students, no matter which country they belong were had to say in the schools before teaching. However, after some recent years, it changed and removed from necessity. It is an important issue because the meanings of word in Pledge end up with capital words “NE MUTLU TURKUM DIYENE” “I am Turk” which means value Turkish people above Kurdish, Armenian and etc. the discrimination in Turkey were began first in the education that children take. In conclusion, considering Turkey with the other countries, Turkey may seem more like a non-racial country, however the history actually experienced in a number of events, and it still a racist mentality that continues in today. For example, right wing and leftist groups attacked each other verbally or physically or political parties are constantly spend insulting words to each other. As a result of discrimination in Turkey we can say that the reason of racism is mostly depends on religions and nations that people live.


Biseth, H. (2013). Human Rights in the Field of Comparative Education. (11th ed., Vol. 1, p.76) (H. Holmarsdottir, Ed.). Istanbul: Sense.
Laciner, S. (2006). What is the Armenian Problem? Turkish Weekly. Retrieved from Landau, Y. (1984). Secularism. In Atatürk and the modernization of Turkey. (p. 36).
Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press.
Mills, K. (2009). Race relations in a new age. American Psychological Association, 40(4),

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