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commentators; and therefore, even as the Reformation in Europe rejected much that had been superimposed on primitive Christianity and went straight back to the Bible, so does the present Moslem reformation reject many of the commentaries and go straight back to the Koran, bringing new interpretations to bear upon the Book itself, with the result that the doctors have been able to prove that the strictest Mussulman can reconcile it with his conscience to accept the Constitution, that Islam is essentially liberal and democratic, that to remove oppression and corruption is to obey the teachings of the Koran, and that the granting of equal rights to Christians and Mussulmans—a reform which was the stumbling-block to many Mohammedans—is in no wise opposed to the injunctions of the Prophet.
The Young Turk movement is therefore Nationalist and not Pan-Islamic, and the policy of these reformers is opportunist. Liberal-minded themselves, they have had to bear in mind that Turkey-in-Asia holds some of the most conservative and fanatical Moslems in the world; so they had to go delicately to work when they began necessarily to interfere with some cherished traditions. The exile of these young men afforded them the opportunity of getting into contact with educated Indian and other Mussulmans, learned in Moslem law, from whom they remembered that the Sheikh-ul-Islam, as representative of the mollahs and the interpreters of the Koran in Turkey, gave the Young Turk movement the sanction of the faith, rebuked the fanatics who had preached against reform as being irreligious, and compelled them to stay their mischievous vapourings. Had it not been for this support the revolution would have been impossible. But it may not be generally known that the theological arguments which convinced the Sheikh-ul-Islam that this was the right attitude to take were drawn up for him by a faithful subject of Edward VII, Ameer Ali, exjudge of the High Court in India, and a learned exponent of Moslem thought and tradition. It was Ameer Ali who recently introduced the deputations of Indians that waited on Lord Morley to plead the cause of the Moslems in India who, by the scheme proposed by the Government, were not to be given due representation on the Councils. The awakening of Turkey, the growth of liberalism and the thirst for knowledge among the educated Turks, including even the Ulemas, whom the world regarded as the most narrowminded of Mussulman conservatives, were largely encouraged by the very measures which Abdul Hamid had taken to suppress these ideas and movements so dangerous to his despotism. Men of ability, being suspected by the Palace, and living in perpetual dread of the espionage which enveloped them like some hideous nightmare, were unable to associate with each other freely, and had to live isolated lives, the tedium of which they relieved by reading, with a greater avidity than is displayed in other countries, where men have wider scope for their intellectual energies, works on history, philosophy and law, and other literature which were smuggled into Turkey across her land and sea frontiers. In latter days the Turkish exiles in Europe succeeded in pouring prohibited literature wholesale into Turkey, but at first the supply was small ; one book, passed secretly from one man to another, would be read by hundreds, and young men greedy for instruction even went to the pains of copying out with their own hands bulky volumes which they had borrowed. Many an Englishman who considers himself to be well read would feel ashamed on discovering how much wider than his own is the knowledge of English literature possessed by some of his friends among the Young Turks. The Sultan, too, unintentionally, spread far and wide the very influences which it was his desire to destroy, for by driving thousands of educated men out of Constantinople into exile in various provinces of his Empire, he made of these missionaries of enlightenment, liberalism, and political discontent. Those also who were exiled
received considerable assistance. It will be
to foreign countries and lived in Paris and other Western capitals came under the immediate influence of modern ideas, and, communicating with their friends in Turkey, inoculated them with their own views. Thus it came about that the whole Empire was gradually leavened with dissatisfaction with the Sultan's rule, and the ground was prepared for the revolution.
The genesis of the Young Turkey party—Feeling in Northern Albania—The Turkish exiles in Geneva–The Young Turk organisation in Paris—Propaganda in Turkey—The Ottoman Committee of Union and Progress—Ahmed Riza Bey—The Armenians join the cause—The Paris Congresses of 1902 and 1907.
IT is about forty years ago that one first heard of a Young Turk party. Abd-ul-Aziz, having broken the early promises of his reign, had made himself the absolute despot, and had crushed the liberalism that from the time of Mahmud II had been gaining ground in Turkey. A number of educated men then fled from the country to Paris and London, and, calling themselves the “Young Turks,” started a movement whose object it was to agitate for the introduction of reforms into the government of their native land. Among them were men of great ability, including the illustrious Kemal Bey; and all the Turkish literature of that period that had any value was produced by this group of “intellectuals.” They published a paper called the Hurriet, which is the Turkish word for liberty, in which they exposed in an unsparing fashion the corruption, incapacity and lack of patriotism of the high officials and advisers of the