Wednesday, October 9, 2013

History’s Cycling Reveiled

Action and reaction. The aggressive expansionary tendencies of Westerndom, let’s call it, massively stimulated a “modernizing” reaction in one Turkish soldier who fought on the wrong side, let us call it, in World War I. The man was Abdul Kemal Atatürk. He rose to the leadership of Turkey and transformed that country from a traditional Muslim state into a modern power—by, among other things, forcing dress codes on the population. He ruled from 1923 to 1938. One of the last dress codes he instituted was a 1934 law relating to Prohibited Garments, principally those that signaled religious affiliations. The veil was one of these. Atatürk, in effect, intended to establish a secular state. In that effort he did his utmost in limiting the effective influence of religion, in his context the Muslim religion. Among groups prohibited were Sufi lodges and associations.

Today comes news that, in Turkey, parliament has once more permitted those who wear a veil to do so again—yes even if they work for government in public offices. Amidst the great cycles of history there are little ones that do not take a millennium or two to develop. The veil in Turkey, ripped from the faces of women in 1934 is restored in 2013. The old Turkish traditionalists—all dead, of course, but presumably taking a peak through little windows in heaven—are nodding and saying: “Well, it’s a beginning.”

The more skilled observer of cycles remains more neutral. Every beginning is but the first step to an ending. Every unveiling becomes a reveiling. And so it goes, round and round.

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