A motion was drafted describing the breakdown of the Ottoman Empire and the birth of a New Turkish State
A motion was drafted describing the breakdown of the Ottoman Empire and the birth of a New Turkish State and confirming that, in accordance with the Constitution Act, the sovereign rights belonged to the people. This motion, signed by more than eighty comrades, also bore my signature.
After this motion had been read, two of the deputies placed themselves at the head of those who had taken up an attitude of serious opposition. One of these was Colonel Selaheddin Bey, deputy for Mersina, and the other was Zia Hurshid, who was subsequently hanged at Smyrna. They openly declared that they were convinced that the Sultanate ought not to be abolished.
The Assembly did not sit on the 31 st October. On that day a meeting of the Party for the Defence of the Rights took place. I made some statements there to prove the necessity for the abolition of the Sultanate. The same question formed the subject of long debates in the Assembly on the I st November. I considered it necessary to make a long statement here also on this question. (Document 264.)
Speaking of the history of Islam and of Turkey, based on historical facts, I showed that the Caliphate and the Sultanate could be separated from one another
Speaking of the history of Islam and of Turkey, based on historical facts, I showed that the Caliphate and the Sultanate could be separated from one another and that the Grand National Assembly could possess the national sovereignty.
I asserted that the execution of the Caliph Mutassam*) by Hulago had put an end to the Caliphate and that unless Yavus**), who conquered Egypt in the year 924 of the Hegira, would not have attributed importance to a fugitive who held the title of Caliph, we should not have had the title handed down to our days.
Thereupon the motions concerning this questions were referred to three Committees, that of the Constitution Act, of the Sheriade***) and of Justice.
It was certainly difficult for these committees to meet and solve the question in conformity with the aim we were pursuing. I had to follow these matters very closely in person.
These three committees met in one room. After the election of Hodja Mufid Effendi as chairman, they began to deliberate. The gentlemen of the Hodjas belonging to the Committee of the Sheriade put forward the point of view that the Caliphate could not be se parated from the Sultanate.
They relied on the well-known fallacies and absurdities. Those who spoke openly in opposition to these assertions did not venture to come forward themselves. We followed the debates from a corner of the crowded room. It is evident that it would have been of no avail to expect a settlement of the question in the direction at which we were aiming from such a debate at this. I was perfectly certain about that.
Finally, I asked the chairman of *) Hulago, a Mongol prince, grandson of Djingis Khan, conquered and destroyed Bagdad, in 1258 and caused Mutassam, the last Caliph of the Abbassides in Bagdad to be executed.
An Abbasside, who had escaped, and his successors continued the Caliphate in Egypt, which was governed by the Mamelukes, until it was transferred to the Ottoman ruler in 1517.
**) Yavus: the strong, the brave one, surname of Sultan Seliml. (1512 1520). ***) Religious prescriptions having legal force.
Kemal Pasha the mixed Committee for permission to speak, and, standing on the bench in front of me, I made this statement in a loud voice:
“Gentle men,” I declared, “neither the sovereignty nor the right to govern can be transferred by one person to anybody else by an academic debate.
Sovereignty is acquired by force, by power and by violence. It was by violence that the sons of Osman acquired the power to rule over the Turkish nation and to maintain their rule for more than six centuries.
It is now the nation that revolts against these usurpers, puts them in their right place and actually carries on their sovereignty. This is an actual fact. It is no longer a question of knowing whether we want to leave this sovereignty in the hands of the nation or not.
It is simply a question of stating and actuality, something which is already an accomplished fact and which must be accepted uncondition ally as such. And this must be done at any price.
If those who are assembled here, the Assembly and everybody else would find this quite natural, it would be very appropriate from my point of view. Conversely, the reality will nevertheless be manifested in the neces sary form, but in that event it is possible that some heads will be cut off.
“With regard to the theological aspect of the matter, the anxieties and the alarm on the part of the Hodja gentlemen are quite unjusti fied.
I will explain this to you,” I said, and then I made a long state ment. “Pardon me,” responded Hodja Mustapha Effendi, deputy for Angora, “we had regarded the question in another light. Now we are informed.”
The question was settled in the mixed Committee.
The draft of the Act was quickly drawn up and was read on the same day in the second sitting of the Assembly.
Following a motion to proceed to nominal voting, I mounted the tribune and declared: This procedure is useless. I believe that the High Assembly will unanimously adopt the principles which are destined to preserve the independence of the nation and the country for all time.”
Shouts were raised: “Vote!” “Vote!” Finally, the chairman put the motion to the vote and declared: “It is unanimously agreed to.” One single voice was heard declaring: “I am against it,” but this was drowned in cries of “Silence!”
In this way, Gentlemen, the curtain fell on the last act of the overthrow and breakdown of the Ottoman Monarchy.
The first sentence of an official telegram on the 17 th November ran as follows: “Wahideddin has left the Palace to-night.” You must have read some other sentences of this telegram in the protocol of the sitting of the Assembly on the i8 th November. The original of this telegram, however, contained another part, the end referring to those persons who could possibly intervene in facilitating his departure and of the steps to be taken for the preservation of the sacred relics.
Let us also read the copy of a letter which was read at the same sitting, as well as the copy of a communique published by the agencies which was appended to it.
17 th November, 1922. Copy of the letter.
As stated in the official communique, a copy of which is appended hereto, His Majesty has placed himself under the protection of Eng land and has left Constantinople on board an English man-of-war.
His Imperial Majesty, appreciating the danger that threatens his life and freedom in the present circum stances, has in his capacity as Caliph of all the Mohamedans, appealed for English protection and has simultaneously requested that he may be transported from Constantinople to another place
The annexed copy.
“We announce officially that His Imperial Majesty, appreciating the danger that threatens his life and freedom in the present circum stances, has in his capacity as Caliph of all the Mohamedans, appealed for English protection and has simultaneously requested that he may be transported from Constantinople to another place. His Majesty s desire has been fulfilled this morning. Sir Charles Harington, Com- mander-in-Chief of the English troops in Turkey, has accompanied His Majesty and conducted him to an English man-of-war.
His Majesty has been received by Admiral Sir Osmond de Beauvoir Brook, commanding the Mediterranean squadron. Mr. Nevile Hen derson, acting British High Commissioner, has paid a visit to His Majesty on board and has asked him what desires he wishes to be made known to His Majesty King George V.”
We are also in the possession of a letter which General Harington had addressed to a woman called Ulvie Sultana*), endorsed “re mained unanswered.” The original of this letter had been sent to Refet Pasha, and the latter sent us a copy of it on the 25 th November.
This is the text of it:
“Madame la Sultane, I have just received a wireless telegram from His Imperial Majesty the Sultan, who at this moment is ap-
*) She is the daugther of the Sultan; the title of Sultana was added to her name while the Sultan himself still bore his title.
Approaching Malta, wherein he asks me to inform him of the condition of his family. To ascertain this, I applied last Saturday at the Yildiz Palace; I learned that the wife of His Majesty was in the best of health and have informed the Sultan of this immediately. If you will be kind enough to give me information about the Imperial family I shall be glad to transmit it immediately to him. On account of the difficult conditions in which His Majesty now finds himself, I take the liberty of addressing to you, Madame, as well as to the Imperial family my sincerest wishes and I beg you to accept my devotion and the expression of my high esteem. (Signed) Harington.
This last letter is not worthy of notice.
I also think it superfluous to mention to you the contents of a letter which General Harington had addressed to our military re presentative in Constantinople with an enclosure.
I prefer to confront public opinion with actual facts. By these means you will be able to understand in a natural manner into what degrading position a nation possessing pride and a noble heart can be brought by a wretch who, thanks to the fatal succession to the throne, had inherited a noble position and an exalted title.
Indeed, it is sad to think that a creature like Wahideddin, who was low enough to consider that his life and liberty could have been in danger, from whatever cause it might be, in the midst of his own people, had been able to stand even for a single instant at the head of a nation. It is fortunate that the nation has driven this wretch from his hereditary throne and has put an end thereby to the long series of his basenesses. This intervention of the Turkish people is worthy of the highest praise.
An incapable and low creature, without heart or intelligence, might well place himself under the protection of any foreigner who is willing to accept him, but it is surely inappropriate to think that such an individual should bear the title of Caliph of the whole of Islam. To make such an idea understandable, all Mohamedan communities would, first of all, have been reduced to the position of slaves. Is that actually the case in the world?
We Turks are a people who during the whole of our historic existence have been the very embodiment of freedom and indepen dence. Also, we have proved that we are capable of putting an end to the comedy played by the Caliph who exposed himself to humiliations of every description for the miserable object of dragging out an un worthy existence for a few days longer. Acting as we have done, we have confirmed the truth that individuals, and especially those who are base enough to think only of their personal positions and their own lives even to the injury of the state and nation to which they belong cannot be of any importance in the mutual relationship of states and nations.
In international relations it must be the ardent wish of the whole civilised world to put an end to the time when the system of puppets governs policy.
The fugitive Caliph to have been deposed, and in his stead Abdul Mejid Effendi was elected the last of the Caliphs
The Grand National Assembly of Turkey proclaimed the fugitive Caliph to have been deposed, and in his stead Abdul Mejid Effendi was elected the last of the Caliphs.
Before the National Assembly proceeded to the election of a new Caliph every possibility had to be excluded that the newly elected one would yield to the desire to rule and try to place himself for this purpose under any foreign protection.
For this reason, I asked Refet Pasha, our delegate in Constantinople, to speak to Abdul Mejid Effendi and to get him to sign a document in which he bound himself to complete subjection to the decisions respecting the Caliphate and Sultanate which had been arrived at by the National Assembly.
My instructions were carried out.
In the instructions which I sent to Refet Pasha on the i8 th No vember by telegraph in cipher to Constantinople, I had particularly emphasised the following points:
Abdul Mejid Effendi shall bear the title of Caliph of all Mohamedans. No other title or quality should be added
Abdul Mejid Effendi shall bear the title of Caliph of all Mohamedans. No other title or quality should be added.
He is first, through your mediation and first of all by telegram in cipher, to communicate to us the manifest to the Mohamedan world which he must prepare. When we have given our consent, the text will be returned to him, also through you and in a telegram in cipher, and not before then will it be published. The text of the manifesto is mainly to comprise the following points:
(a) He shall explicitly express his satisfaction at having been elected Caliph by the Grand National Assembly of Turkey.
(b) Wahideddin Effendi s conduct shall be submitted to thorough condemnation.
(c) The manifesto shall contain in an appropriate form the first ten Articles of the Constitution, and care shall be taken that their meaning and essential purpose are expressed in a precise form; it is also to emphasise the special character of the Turkish State, the Grand National Assembly and their Government and is to declare that their administrative system is the most appropriate and the most fitting one in the interests and desires of the population of Turkey, as well as of the whole Mohamedan world.
(d) It shall mention in a praiseworthy manner the services which the democratic national Government of Turkey has rendered, as well as the endeavours worthy of recognition that have been made.
(e) Beyond these points that have been mentioned, the manifesto is not to contain any reference that could be of a political character.
In an open telegram which I sent to Abdul Mejid Effendi on the 10th November, I informed him that “The Grand National Assembly, being in the possession of the legislative and executive power bestowed upon it by the Constitution Act, according to the wording of which the sovereignty of the Turkish State belongs without reserve or restriction to the nation, and which is constituted by the only true representatives of the nation, had elected him Caliph at their sitting on the 18 th November in accord with the principles and for the reasons unanimously agreed to by them on the I st November of the same year.” (Document 265.)
Refet Pasha replied to our telegraphic communication in a tele gram in cipher on the 19 th November. He said that Abdul Mejid Effendi had expressed his opinion that it would be possible and opportune for him to put above his signature the title of “Caliph of all Mahomedans and Servant of the Sacred Places,” and that he should wear a cloak and turban, as worn by Mohamed the Conqueror, at the Selamlik.
Regarding the contents of the manifesto addressed to the Mo hamedan world, he had excused himself for not being able to say anything with regard to Wahideddin, and he had proposed that the manifesto should be published in the Press of Constantinople, both in the Turkish and Arabic languages. (Document 266.)
In the answer which I sent to Refet Pasha at the instrument on the 20 th November, I agreed that the title “Servant of the Sacred Places” should be added to that of Caliph. I regarded it abnormal that the costume of the conqueror should be worn at the Friday ceremonies. I insisted that a frock-coat or a “Stambuline”*) might be worn, but that a military uniform was quite out of the question. I also added that it would be necessary to characterise the moral personality of the late Caliph without mentioning his name, and to describe the decadence into which the nation had fallen under his rule.
*) A kind of frock-coat of special cut. In the first sentence of his telegram in cipher of the 20 th November, Refet Pasha remarked that Abdul Mejid Effendi, in his letter of the 29 th Rabiul-Evel*) had used the title “Caliph of the Messenger of God, Servant of the two Holy Cities” and had signed the letter “Abdul Mejid, Son of Abdul Aziz Khan”**).
Abdul Mejid, who had declared that he took our advice, had, there fore, been unable to resist the temptation of substituting the ex pression “Caliph of the Mohamedans” by the title “Caliph of the Messenger of God” and had used the title “Khan” because of his father s name. After having made some other remarks, he still added that he had abandoned the idea of declaring anything with regard to Wahideddin, because “for the reason of his character and his prin ciples, it would be painful for him to make any such declarations, even if they only referred to despicable actions on the part of other people.”
This was the second sentence. The third contained the reply to the telegram I had sent him in my capacity as President of the As sembly to announce to him his election to the Caliphate. His reply was addressed to me personally and was headed: “To His Excellency Marshal Ghazi Mustapha Kemal Pasha, President of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, Angora.”
The fourth paragraph contained a copy of the manifesto to be addressed to the Mohamedan world
The fourth paragraph contained a copy of the manifesto to be addressed to the Mohamedan world. It was carefully pointed out in it that it had been composed in Stambul, the “High Seat of the Caliphate.”
In a telegram we sent on the 21 st November we declared that the title “Caliph of the Messenger of God” must be altered to “Caliph of the Mohamedans”
In a telegram we sent on the 21 st November we declared that the title “Caliph of the Messenger of God” must be altered to “Caliph of the Mohamedans”, as previously communicated. We reminded him that the reply to our telegram informing him of his election as Caliph must be addressed to the Presidency of the Grand National Assembly and not to me personally.
We pointed out that his letter contained forms of expression which touched on questions of a political and general character and that he must abstain from that.
The essential point which I want to emphasise by these explanations, which can easily be regarded as unimportant details, is this:
With regard to myself, I was of the opinion that after the abolition of the monarchy, the Caliphate, being only an authority of a similar description under another name, was also abolished. I found it
*) Arabic name of a month. **) Sultan Abdul Aziz, 1861-1876. quite natural to express this opinion at a favourable moment.
It cannot be maintained that Abdul Mejid, who was elected to be Caliph, was quite ignorant of this fact. As, above all, some people were still dreaming of finding the means to bring him into govern ment under the title of Caliph, it was impossible to believe in the nawite of our correspondent and in that of his natural followers.
If you wish it, I will now give you a short account of the debates that took place during a secret sitting when the Caliph was elected on the i8 th November.
There were many deputies in the Assembly who regarded the question as being very serious and important. The Hodjas, in par ticular, were very attentive and alert, as they had at last found a subject that appealed to them.
The Caliph is a fugitive … he had to be deposed
The Caliph is a fugitive … he had to be deposed, another had to be elected. The new Caliph had not to be left in Constantinople, he had to be transferred to Angora, so that he should be brought as near as possible to the Head of the nation and the State.
In short, following the flight of the Caliph, the whole of Turkey, the whole of Islam was overthrown, or was at least threatened to become so … they had to be on the watch. Such were the anxieties and fears that were uttered.
Some of the speakers on their part spoke of the necessity to define the character and powers of the Caliph who was to be elected.
I also took part in the debates. Most of my statements were re plies to the observations that had been put forward. They can sub stantially be summarised in the following sentences: “Surely it is possible to analyse and discuss the question for a long time. But the more we listen to one another and the more we loose ourselves in these discussions and analyses, the more difficulties and delays we shall encounter. I only want to draw your attention to this fact: This Assembly is the Assembly of the Turkish people. Your powers and authority can only extend to the Turkish people and our Turkish country and can only be effective in so far as the question concerns their lives and their destiny.
Our Assembly, Gentlemen, cannot attribute to themselves powers that comprise the whole of the Islamic world
“Our Assembly, Gentlemen, cannot attribute to themselves powers that comprise the whole of the Islamic world.
“The Turkish nation and our Assembly, consisting of their repre sentatives, cannot confide their existence to the hands of a person who bears, or will bear, the title of Caliph. No, they cannot do so.
“We are told that through this question confusion will arise in the Mohamedan world. Whoever stated that has lied or is lying.” To one interrupter I said quite openly:
“You, you may well lie. You have learned to do so very well.”
After having explained that there was no cause to make such a fuss about this affair I declared:
“Our greatest strength, our prestige in the eyes of the world depend on the new form and the new character of our regime. The Caliphate might be in a state of slavery. The persons who bear the title of Caliph might flee into foreign countries. Our enemies and the Caliph can join and together attempt any enterprise, but they can never shake the administrative system of New Turkey, nor her policy, nor her power.
“I state once more and in a formal manner that the Turkish nation is in full possession of their sovereignty without reserva tion and without restriction. This sovereignty does not suffer any partition in whatever form or colour it might be. Nobody, whether he is called Caliph or by any other title, can participate in the direc tion of the destiny of this nation. This nation cannot possibly allow this. There is no deputy of the people who could make such a pro position.
“We must, therefore, proclaim the deposition of the fugitive Caliph, elect a new one and proceed in everything that regards this question in conformity with the points of view we have expounded. It is quite impossible to act otherwise.”
In spite of the somewhat tempestuous debates that took place we arrived at an agreement with the majority of votes in the Assembly as to the course to be followed.
Then you know what happened. I do not think it necessary to weary you with explanations of how after the abolition of the mon archy Tewfik Pasha, Izzet Pasha and their colleagues, who had as sumed the semblance of a Government in Constantinople, handed in their resignations at the Palace, nor do I wish to speak about the orders and instructions which we gave for the organisation of the administration of Constantinople.