The abolition of the Caliphate – The Economist

Shahzade Abdu00fclmecid Efendi is seen on a horse as he goes to Friday prayer. (1923)

(Rahnuma) The repudiation of the Caliphate by the Turks marks an epoch in the expansion of Western ideas over the non-Western world, for our Western principles of national sovereignty and self-government are the real forces to which the unfortunate ‘Abdu’l Mejid Efendi has fallen a victim.

Both by tradition and by theory, the Caliph is an absolute monarch over a united Islamic world, and it is therefore almost impossible to find a place for him in a national state (whether it be called a republic or a constitutional monarchy) in which the sovereignty is vested in the parliamentary representatives of the people.

The banishment of even the “spiritualised” Caliph (as contrasted with the “temporal” Caliph-Sultan who reigned at Constantinople down to the autumn of 1922) is the logical consequence of the policy which has been steadily pursued by the Turkish Nationalist (or “Defence of Rights”) Party since its foundation in the summer of 1920. Mustafa Kemal Pasha and his associates have always had two main ends in view: that the Turkish nation should be absolute master in its own house, and that it should retain neither pretensions nor liabilities outside what it regards as the proper boundaries of its own “national home”. This policy has the merit of being definite in its purposes and limited in its aims, and it has undoubtedly arisen out of the Turkish nation’s painful experiences in the past.

Originally published by The Economist on March 8th, 1924.

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