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Suleyman Nazif's 'Open Letter to Jesus': An Anti-Christian Polemic in the Early Turkish Republic

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The recent 'cartoon crisis' caused by European newspapers that published disrespectful caricatures of the prophet Muhammad and offended Muslims all over the world, intensified the discussions on 'the clash of civilizations'. The present religious quarrels, as distressing as they are, remind us of the uproar Suleyman Nazif (1870-1927), a Muslim Turkish nationalist caused in Turkey in 1924. At that time the bone of contention was not a cartoon but the 'Open Letter to Jesus' Nazif published followed by his 'The Reply of Jesus' and in both of which he condemned the 'crusader mentality' of the Christian world. Being political satires, these letters reflect the views of Suleyman Nazif on the imperialist European powers, show his attempt to defend the newly founded Turkish Republic and illustrate how relations between Turkey and Europe had been deepening the prejudices of Muslims and Christians toward each other. This contribution presents translations of Nazif's two letters, preceded by an overview of Muslim-Christian polemics in the late Ottoman Empire and the early Turkish Republic.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2008

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