Ottomanism was a political trend popular in the 1870s and 1880s in which loyalty to the sultan was replaced with loyalty to the Ottoman state, the fatherland (vatan). A single Ottoman citizenship was intended to replace religious, ethnic, and linguistic divisions among the Empire’s diverse subjects. Administratively, Ottomanist policies emphasized a strong central state to which all subjects were bound. In promoting religious equality (Tanzimat Reforms...

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See also: Turkey, Middle East

The Millet System

The Millet System refers to the Ottoman administration of separate religious communities that acknowledged each community’s authority in overseeing its own communal affairs, primarily through independent religious court systems and schools.


A dhimmi refers to a non-Muslim subject of the Ottoman Empire. Derived from Islamic legal conceptions of membership to society, non-Muslims ‘dhimmis’ were afforded protection by the state and did not serve in the military, in return for specific taxes. The dhimmi status was legally abolished in 1839 with the Hatt-ı Şerif of Gülhane and was formalized with the 1869 Ottoman Law of Nationality as part of wider Tanzimat Reforms....

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The Young Turks

The Young Turks emerged prior to the 1908 Revolution as an opposition movement against the autocratic leadership of Sultan Abdulhamid II (d. 1918), and which subsequently governed the Ottoman Empire between 1908 and 1918. The moniker “Young Turks” was given by European onlookers, and elided the true diversity of opposition to Abdulhamid, which included Jews, Albanians, Arabs, and in its early period, ...

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See also: Turkey

The Young Ottomans

The Young Ottomans (YO) was a constitutional reform and Ottoman state opposition movement that was influential in Ottoman politics between 1860 and 1876. The YO were a response to the Ottoman Tanzimat Reforms, which members accused the government of using to cement an autocratic bureaucracy led by the Ottoman elite. Instead, the YO promoted ...

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See also: Turkey

Tanzimat Reforms

The Tanzimat Reforms were a series of edicts between 1839 and 1876 intended to preserve the weakening Ottoman Empire. These included the 1839 Hatt-ı Şerif of Gülhane (“Noble Edict of the Rose Chamber”) which guaranteed life and property rights, instituted tax regulations, outlawed execution without trial, and other liberal reforms which recalled the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen (1789); and the 1856 Hatt-ı Hümayun (“Imperial Edict”). Both edicts asserted the equality of Muslim and non-Muslim Ottoman subjects.

The Tanzimat reforms were directed at Europe to...

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See also: Turkey

Sèvres Treaty

The 1920 Sèvres treaty was a pact between the Allies and the Ottoman Empire, officially dismantling the Empire and forcing it to relinquish claims to territories in North Africa and the Middle East. It also recognized independent and/or autonomous areas for Armenia, Kurdistan, and Thracian Greece. Turkish nationalists rejected the treaty, and replaced it in 1923 with the Treaty of Lausanne.


The PKK (Partiya Karkarên Kurdistan, Kurdistan Workers Party) is a transnational Kurdish movement led by Abdullah Öcalan that seeks an independent Kurdish state (Kurdistan) in southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq. The PKK dominated Kurdish political discourse in the 1980s and 1990s, and violently targeted the Turkish military and security forces. The heavy handed response of the Turkish state, including indiscriminate violence and the...

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See also: Iraq, Turkey

Said Nursi

Said Nursi (1876-1960) was a Kurdish Islamic modernist who founded the nondenominational Nur Movement (Nurҫuluk), which advocated for a reinterpretation of Islam according to the needs of a modern society, a legacy of attempts by the Young Ottomans to reconcile Islam with constitutionalism. He was strongly opposed to positivism, and believed that change would only come through the cultivation of a new mindset, not through transforming institutions...

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See also: Turkey, Islam

Fethullah Gülen

Fethullah Gülen (b. 1938) is a prominent Turkish Islamic scholar and founder of the international Gülen Movement, which evolved from the Nur Movement in the 1960s. Gülen stresses education as the vehicle for transforming the contemporary world. Where Said Nursi emphasized personal transformation as a means to effect social change, Gülen looks both to personal transformation and social and political activism, and fully embraces Turkish nationalism—the defining...

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See also: Turkey, Islam

The 2013 Gezi Park Protests

The Gezi Park Protests in the summer of 2013 began in response to Prime Minister Reccep Tayyip Erdoğan’s plans to demolish Istanbul’s Gezi Park, one of the city’s few remaining public green spaces, and to replace it with a shopping mall and luxury apartments. Initial protests were held by environmentalists opposed to the project; when forcibly removed, a wider coalition of protesters came together and demonstrations evolved into a wider...

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See also: Turkey

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (d. 1938) was a Turkish military officer who led the Turkish army during the war of independence, and subsequently became the first President of the Republic of Turkey. He championed a series of striking nationalist and secularist reforms, known as Kemalism, which significantly altered the Turkish political, cultural, and religious landscape, and initiated longstanding tensions between Turkey’s secularist Kemalists and its pious Muslims, particularly...

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The Armenian Genocide

The Armenian Genocide refers to the deaths and deportations of between 700,000 and one million Armenians during and after WWI. Heightened tensions arose between the Ottoman government and its Armenian subjects beginning with the 1830 annexation of Eastern Armenia by Russia, triggering an Armenian cultural revival that led to the emergence of Armenian nationalism, which made claims to a homeland in Eastern Turkey. The genocide also reflects population policies instituted by the Young Turks to “Turkify” and homogenize the Turkish population. These policies were issued in the context of a...

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See also: Turkey