Studies show that in Europe in general, there is always a skeptical, timid, hesitant and unfriendly view towards “Turkish”. (We also published a detailed article on the sociopsychology of the European view of the Turks in our book “Human Part by Part”.) This point of view is clearly felt both in social and political spheres throughout Europe today. This view towards the Turks was actually a part of the general xenophobia in Europe and was formed in a historical process that embodied the concept of “threatening foreigner”. Although there are racial, religious, economic and social dimensions of Turkish hostility in Europe, it is imperative to consider the elements of community psychology, which form the infrastructure of all of them and have a very old foundation.
With the beginning of the tribes migration in 375, the Huns captured a significant part of Northern Europe. That’s when the European started to use the word “barbarian”, which is a phonetic equivalent of the “dark, aggressive human figure whose language he doesn’t understand” that comes to life in his imagination when the word “foreigner” is mentioned. For nearly a hundred years, the Huns, “who just intimidated people by their mere sight, rode horses well, wielded weapons, were extremely brutal and aggressive” (H. Dollinger), caused an indelible fear and hostility to take root in the minds of Europeans for centuries.
“Foreigners from afar”, that is, “Turks”, took their place as the “other” of European identity. Later, the victories of the Muslim Arabs against Europe also contributed to the formation of the “other” in the European identity. Along with the Arab victories, the image of “Muslim” was added to the image of “bad Turk” that started with the Huns. The fact that the Turks began to push the doors of Europe again, this time as the leader and standard-bearer of Islam, made Turkish and Muslim identical for the European. European identity solidified its “other” during the Crusades and Ottoman expansion.
After the conquest of Istanbul (Constantinople), the Europeans would compare the Turks, whom they thought they were Trojans, with the Romans, and the belief that these warlike, contented people who supported their subjects would establish a universal monarchy would settle in the unconscious of the people. With the decline of the Ottoman Empire, the flaws of the Turks would be examined rather than their virtues, and the Turkish type, which was admired as much as feared, would pass into the type of Turk who was hated as much as it was despised.
The Turkish image, which constitutes the “other” of its identity, served as a psychological reservoir for the European to complete its existence, reflect, convey and send all kinds of unsettling features in itself. Let alone ordinary Europeans, even European anthropology, Turks, deprived of all kinds of pleasures, indifferent to art, lazy, insensitive, incapable of doing anything, indulging in the most disgusting pleasures, the primitive people regarded Turkish as a primitive language.
The summary of the situation is the following determinations of S. Yerasimos, who is the owner of these views, in the preface of the book “Ne Mutlu Türküm Diyene”:
“For Europe, the Turks have been seen as ‘the barbarians among us’ for centuries. Germans, Normans, and Hungarians also came to Europe as invaders, but eventually integrated. The Arabs also resisted until they were expelled from Europe. The Russians were in a marginal position between assimilation and exclusion. Turks, on the other hand, took place only in their own part of Europe. They neither tried to impose their beliefs nor adopted Christianity. They were admired when they were strong, and hated when they were weak. Pushed from Europe for three hundred years, they could only hold on to its extreme and decided to ‘Westernize’. It is difficult to find another people who have had such a contradictory and confused relationship with Europe for so long. Emotions arising from prejudices such as envy and resentment, fascination and fear make it difficult to solve the problem.”
We Turks are nothing but the growing danger of the “foreign inside” in the eyes of the European. Let’s see this fact now. Let’s act according to strategies developed with this awareness, both during our contacts with Europe and during the fight against Islamophobia and racism in Europe. We cannot change Europe’s identity or prejudices in a short time. But we can fix their obsession with “We don’t want you, you want to join us by force, break our unity”.
The first condition for this is, to act with self-confidence as “Turks are not people in your prejudices. Yes, we are different from you, it is true that we do not want to be completely like you. But throughout our history, we have implemented the principle that differences can coexist, which you have been talking about for a while, if you wish, we can do it together. If you don’t want to act we are happy with our lives”