Democracy: Government by the People, Equality

Ali Suavi

in Modernist Islam, 1840-1940

Published in print September 2002 | ISBN: 9780195154672
Published online November 2007 |
 Democracy: Government by the People, Equality

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Ali Suavi (Turkey, 18391878) was a leading figure in the Young Ottoman political reform movement and in the search for Islamic justifications of constitutionalism. Trained both in religious and secular schools, Suavi held a variety of administrative positions before embarking on a career as a public intellectual in his mid-twenties. His pamphlets and sermons in the ehzade Mosque in Istanbulintroducing modern political terminology, criticizing the government, and commenting on foreign relationsmade him famous and led to his banishment to the provinces, whence he fled to Europe. In London and then Paris, Suavi published the journals Muhbir (The Reporter) and Ulm Gazetesi (Journal of the Sciences), calling for constitutionalism in the Ottoman Empire. The article from Ulm Gazetesi presented here, one of the first Ottoman works to use the term democracy, maintains that Islamic precedent requires institutions of democratic consultation. In the 1870s, influenced by conservative European thinkers, he began to criticize constitutionalism, and in 1876 he appealed to Sultan Abdlhamid II (reigned 18761909) to be allowed to return to Istanbul. Upon his pardon and return, Suavi served as a court librarian, a teacher of young princes, and later the director of the Galatasaray Lyce, but his revolutionary sentiments had not disappeared. He was dismissed from Galatasaray in December 1877. In the following months, Suavi launched an unsuccessful uprising against the sultan, hoping to replace him with his elder brother, who was more sympathetic to constitutionalism. Suavi was killed during this attempt, known as the Iraan incident.1

Chapter.  3917 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture ; Islam

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