Have the Brits tried to emulate the Ottomans when building their empire? - TAHA KILINÇ

Have the Brits tried to emulate the Ottomans when building their empire?

I’ve come across this interesting bit of news the other day: Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has sworn in two Muslim ministers in his cabinet. Ed Husic, of Bosnian origin, and Anne Aly, of Egyptian origin, have been sworn in by pressing their hand on the Qur'an at the ceremony and thus began their duties. Husic will take over the Ministry of Industry and science, while Aly will be in charge of the Ministry of Early Childhood Education and Youth.

The swearing-in of Ed Husic and Anne Aly to the ministerial seat by pressing their hands on the pink-colored Qur’an, which was probably not a coincidence, is not only an important event in Australia but also one that gives important clues about the dimensions of Britain's relationship to Islam and Muslims. 

Great Britain, which started to expand all over the world starting in the 1700s, became an "empire on which the sun never sets" by the next century. The British, who dominated vast lands on every continent, also began to rule millions of Muslims. The British state followed a different path than other European nations—French, Dutch, Portuguese, etc.—that had already embarked on the colonial race during the same period: While exploiting the potential inherent in Muslims, it also carved out a space for its interlocutors. As a result of this policy, which was applied persistently and consistently in many fields on a multidimensional basis, large masses who developed friendly relations with London or had a fondness for it emerged in the regions where the British set foot and left their mark. This policy was the reason why Britain is not remembered with hatred like the French or the Dutch in any region it had once exploited.

The British policy of understanding Islam and Muslims, establishing close relations with them even for their own imperial goals, and winning the masses in this way continues unabated today. The inclusion of two Muslim ministers in the cabinet in Australia is a reflection of this. Again, the scene where the British ambassador to Sudan, Irfan Siddiq, led the Sudanese people in evening prayers, where he had his fast-breaking meal in Khartoum in 2019, is still remembered fondly.

It is known that Muslims occupied important positions not only in distant regions but also at the heart of the kingdom. Sadiq Khan, London's Muslim Mayor, is a practical example of this. However, a Muslim occupying the seat of the mayorship in Paris is inconceivable under the current conditions. 

I had previously spoken at length in my column titled "the Lebanese minister" about the issue of Muslim-origin officials assuming ministerial duties in France. However, it is noteworthy that the names chosen there are at odds with their roots and even openly anti-Islamic. Presumably, this is a situation that reflects the reality of the French state's relationship with Islam and Muslims.

(The aforementioned attitude of the British is very effective in the emergence of some secretly supported esoteric sects among Muslims. It is of course not a coincidence that various religious movements, perverted sects, and modern human religions in the Islamic world were born and had flourished in regions controlled by Great Britain.)

The celebration of the 70th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II's accession to the throne stands out as another event that shows the closeness of ties between the Muslim world and London. The Queen, who has been on the throne uninterruptedly since 1952, is followed closely not only by the Brits or the West but also by a large chunk of the Muslim public. Every stage of Elizabeth's 96-year-long life is followed with interest as an odd mix of current politics, recent history, and tabloid fodder. Everywhere you look there is news and images of the Queen's "Platinum Jubilee". This is, of course, an indication that the interest in monarchies is still alive and well in all parts of the world, both in the east and west.

Did the theorists behind the British state examine in depth the principles that kept the Ottoman Empire on its feet for six centuries and the basic principles observed in relations with the governed peoples? The fact that they apply exactly the same principles at some junctures makes one think that such an examination has indeed been made.


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