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Young Turks

YOUNG TURKS

Name given to groups in Ottoman society who demanded and strove for political and social change in the last several decades of the Ottoman Empire.

"Young Turk" is an expression coined in Europe that invokes three distinct phases of the Ottoman constitutionalist movement: the anti-Tanzimat current better known to historians as the "Young Ottoman" movement; the constitutionalist opposition to Sultan Abdülhamit; and the Second Constitutional Period introduced by the reinstitution of the constitutional regime in 1908. There was at no point a distinct organization called the Young Turks; nor did the groups recognized as Young Turks generally embrace this name. Nevertheless, historians identify the last three decades of the empire in reference to Young Turks, while "the Young Turk period" corresponds more precisely to the decade of their political predominance from 1908 to 1918.

Young Turk activity began in the late 1880s. Until the revolution of 1908, their opposition to Abdülhamit manifested itself both within the empire and abroad. The two spheres of activity were linked together only loosely. When a group of medical students in Constantinople (now Istanbul) founded in 1889 the secret cells of what would develop into the Committee for Union and Progress (CUP), individual intellectuals in exile had already launched a political and journalistic campaign against the Hamitian regime. The best known in the latter group was Khalil Ghanim, a Syrian Christian, who published a journal called La jeune Turquie (Young Turkey).


The Constantinople secret committee spread rapidly in the capital's higher schools and soon became known to the authorities. Reprisals forced many to exile, whereupon an expatriate liberal opposition came together around Ahmet Riza, a French-educated official in the Ministry of Agriculture. Influenced by European positivists, he failed to return from a mission in 1889 and turned into a vocal critic of the Hamitian regime. In 1895, he joined Khalil Ghanim, Alber Fua (a Jew), and Aristidi Paşa (a Greek) to publish Meşveret, which became the leading voice of Young Turks.

The next year, a member of the Constantinople secret committee, Murat Bey, fled to Cairo and later to Geneva. A Russian Turk who taught at the influential Mülkiye (civil service) school, Murat Bey was better connected with the liberal currents in Constantinople. His Mizan outshone Meşveret, both of which were smuggled into the empire. Murat was an Islamist-Turkist revolutionary, in contrast to Ahmet Riza's elitist and gradualist outlook. The two men were united in their anti-imperialism and denunciation of the Hamitian autocracy. Murat, however, joined Abdülhamit in 1897. Rivalries within the Young Turk movement in exile continued with the publication in Geneva of Osmanh by İshak Süküti and Ahmet Cevdet Paşa, founding members of the CUP in Constantinople. As repression increased in the empire, Young Turk activity shifted almost entirely to Europe and Egypt for a decade. The flight of Damad Mahmud Paşa, the brother-in-law of the sultan, to join the Young Turks in Europe opened a new phase in Young Turk activities.


Under the moral guidance and financial support of ailing Mahmud Paşa and the presidency of his son Sabahettin, the Young Turks held a conference in Paris in February 1902, which crystallized the divisions within the movement. Representatives of all major religious groups in the empire attended. The meeting revealed the separatist inclinations of Christian factions, while two groups around Ahmet Riza and Sabahettin divided over the suitability of centralist versus decentralist policies in achieving the ultimate aim of preserving the integrity of the empire. Subsequently, Sabahettin formed the Society of Administrative Decentralization and Private Initiative, modeled along the teachings of economist Frédéric Le Play and Edmond Demolins and as a rival to the CUP. A second conference in 1907 aimed at a reconciliation failed to bring Greek, Albanian, and some Armenian factions to the table.

Meanwhile, domestic opposition and conspiracy against the Hamitian regime regrouped in Macedonia. Different oppositional groups coalesced to revitalize the CUP, which in 1907 contacted the Ahmet Riza group in Europe. However, the exile communities had no role in the immediate circumstances that led to the Young Turk Revolution. If international events like the Japanese victory over Russia and the Russian and Iranian revolutions energized Young Turks everywhere, the nationalist activity among the Balkan peoples and the perceived threat to the empire by enhanced relations between Britain and Russia impelled the unionists in Salonika and Monastir to action.

Due to the role they played in the revolution, leaders of the Macedonian branches of the CUP eclipsed the other factions after 1908. They were, however, too inexperienced to take the helm of government and too insecure to embrace other Young %
Turk groups, including the CUP leadership in Europe. The differences within the Young Turk movement were now expressed in multiparty politics. The decentralists under Sabahettin formed the Liberal party before the 1908 elections. Even though they failed to block the election of a large majority of CUP candidates to parliament, the decentralists became an increasingly more potent opposition to the CUP, supported by autonomy-minded minority groups. Other parties that formed in 1910 and 1911 soon merged in the Ottoman Liberty and Entente party. The CUP's attempts to manipulate the elections to retain power undermined parliamentary rule, eliciting an ultimatum from a group of military officers called Saviors. Coupled with foreign preoccupations such as the Italian and Balkan wars, the Young Turk governments gave way to governments led by old-school politicians in 1912. In 1913 the CUP wrested power with a coup d'état. Despite conciliatory measures to the liberals, the CUP remained as that faction within the Young Turk movement that dominated Ottoman politics until the end of the empire.


The Young Turks promoted the ideology of Ottomanism in an attempt to foster in all peoples of the empire a commitment to the Ottoman home-land within the framework of a constitutional government. There were organizational similarities, some ideological continuity, and shared political goals between the Young Ottomans and Young Turks. Despite what the ethnocentric term "Young Turk" suggests, the movement represented ethnically and religiously a much more diverse group than the Young Ottomans.


The Young Turk movement embraced varied ideological orientations (Westernism, Islamism, Turkism, positivism, centralism, decentralism), socio-economic backgrounds (lower middle-class students and officers, high officials, members of Ottoman and Egyptian royal households), and ethnic-religious affiliations. It was unified in the conviction for the necessity of reform designed to preserve the empire. The Young Turks were responsible for instituting the beginnings of modern politics in the Middle East, for expanding education and journalism, and for realizing economic, social, and administrative reforms. The movement provided the political nuclei for the successor states of the Ottoman Empire.

see also ahmet riza; committee for union and progress; ottomanism; tanzimat; young ottomans.


Bibliography

Ahmad, Feroz. The Young Turks: The Committee of Union and Progress in Turkish Politics, 19081914. Oxford: Clarendon, 1969.

Ramsaur, Ernest E. The Young Turks: Prelude to the Revolution of 1908. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1957.


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Young Turks

Young Turks Group of Turks who wished to remodel the Ottoman Empire and make it a modern European state with a liberal constitution. Their movement began in the 1880s with unrest in the army and universities. In 1908, a Young Turk rising, led by Enver Pasha and his chief of staff Mustata Kemal (Atatürk), deposed Sultan Abdul Hamid II and replaced him with his brother, Muhammad V. Following a 1913 coup d'etat, Enver Pasha became a virtual dictator. Under Atatürk, the Young Turks merged into the Turkish Nationalist Party.

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"Young Turks." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Apr. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Young Turks." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved April 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/young-turks

Young Turk

Young Turk • n. a member of a revolutionary party in the Ottoman Empire who carried out the revolution of 1908. ∎  a young person eager for radical change to the established order.

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"Young Turk." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Apr. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Young Turk." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved April 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/young-turk

Young Turks

Young Turks: see Ottoman Empire.

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"Young Turks." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Apr. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Young Turks." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved April 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/young-turks