Sunday, December 23, 2007


Today is the anniversary of some sad events in our history, which we should always remember and make right interpretations.

One is the "Murder of Kubilay" (or Menemen Incident). Mustafa Fehmi Kubilay (1906-1930) was a young lieutenant in the army of the new founded Republic. He is considered as Turkish national hero, a martyr of Turkish revolution.

Kubilay was the son of a Cretan Turkish family, born in İzmir, Ottoman Empire in 1906. After completing his education to become a teacher, he was sent to Menemen for his military obligation. Lieutenant Kubilay murdered by a group of fundamentalist rebels in the Menemen Incident.

Menemen Incident was a chain of incidents starting with the rebellion of Islamic fundamentalists in Menemen, a small town in the Aegean region of Turkey, in 1930.

On December 23, 1930, Dervish Mehmed, a Sufi and self-proclaimed prophet, a hashish addict arrived in Menemen with six followers in an attempt to incite a rebellion against the secular government and reestablish Islamic law. Mehmed and his enthusiastic supporters overwhelmed the local army garrison and killed the commander, Lieutenant Kubilay. Kubilay's severed head was put on a pole and paraded
through the town. The army soon regained control, killing Mehmed and several of his followers.

Incident was a serious threat against secular reforms. After a series of trials, 37 sentenced to death and later hanged in the town square; and several others were sent to prison.

The anniversary of the murder of this 24 year old teacher, lieutenant should remind us especially two things. First; "fundamentalist Islam is the danger number one for the Republic from the beginning to our day."

Second; always "try to look at the backgrounds and relation of events". Kubilay murdered by the "fundamentalists who wanted Sharia", is / was that all? Unfortunately not!

Though Menemen Incident and Kubilay have a symbolic value in the collective memory of Turkish citizens, though Kubilay, has been portrayed not only as a 'victim' of 'religious fanatics' but also as 'the model' for the Turkish youth; it was not the whole story and it is not the end.

It was the second important incident after the 1925 "Sheik Sait rebellion". The leader of the murderers, Shaikh Mehmet was a Nakshibandi of Kurdish origin and he is mostly referred as an hashish addict.

Shaikh Esad who also took place in the trials was from the Erbil of southern Kurdistan. He was a scholar and poet, a friend of Said-i Kurdi. He stayed in Erbil for ten years in exile and turned back to Istanbul. He was taken to custody with his son.

The ban of "Tekkes" (religious schools) all around the country by the secular state was perceived as a threat to Kurdish education by Kurdish Nakshis. They said there was no evidence against Sheik Esad Erbili (other than the two of the murderers being his murids / students) but this incident served the state to count Nakshibandi Tariquat as an illegal organisation.

1930 was an interesting year at the east Anatolia too. While western parts were shocked by the "Menemen Incident", at the east another group was in rebellion for "The Republic of Ararat", a self-proclaimed Kurdish state. The Republic of Ararat was declared independent in 1927, during a wave of rebellion among Kurds in south-eastern Turkiye.

After the failure of Shaikh Said and Azadi at 1925, some Kurdish leaders continued to plan for an independent Kurdistan. Establishing a leadership, they sought the aid of many influential European forces to help. They received little aid from Europe, but had the support of the Armenian Dashnak Party, the Shah of Persia, and fellow Kurds such as Shaikh Ahmad Barzani, leader of the Iraqi Kurdistan Barzani tribe and Syrian Kurds; cutting railroads, pillaging Turkish villages, and conducting guerrilla assaults.

Strongest blow to Ararat revolt, came from Persia at 1930. a few months before Kubilay's murder. Persian government decided not to resist Turkish military advances into Persia to surround Mount Ararat. Persians also began to close the Persian-Turkish border to non-essential travelers, including Kurdish tribes attempting to reinforce the revolt. And eventually completely submit to Turkish operational demands, trading the land surrounding Mount Ararat for Turkish land near Qutur and Barzirgan. The rebellion of Mount Ararat defeated at the fall of 1930.

It is up to you to decide if these rebellions, incidents were based on extremist religious origins against secularism or Kurdish - Turkish nationalism. An important note at this point is; Nakshibandis are still on the stage and stronger than ever, feeded by all kinds of "nationalism". Teachers and lieutenants younger than Kubilay are still at the target.


playwolf said...

Thanks for posting this.
However,..there are some typos/grammatical errors in the text.
It'd be nice to have them corrected for a flawless presentation of the story (I can help), which I believe is one the key events that have shaped the modern secular Turkish identity.
Again, thank you very much.

Muzaffar said...

My brother, how will the Republic help you after you die?

Storm said...


I don't know how to reply you. But if you read here again; I would be grateful to your help.