Nuran Savaşkan Akdoğan

In the first years of the Turkish Republic, as it made its way to becoming a nation‐state, the “Turkification” of language and the “Speak Turkish” campaigns were significant policies. The shift from the millet (nation), based on Islamic rule, which was a system constructed by the Ottoman Empire, to the ‘one nation ‐ one state’ policy of the secular modern Turkish Republic affected the various ethnic groups residing in Turkey, in the sense that all nations had enjoyed the same status under the protection of the Ottoman Empire. In the new nation state, however, these groups were no longer considered millets within the Republic; in fact, this new system presumed all individuals living in Turkey to be Turkish citizens according to its policy of building a homogeneous nation. This new approach sparked a revolutionary spirit, and initiated a process of modernization leading to an evident socio‐economic transformation. These changes affected all levels of society, and specifically impacted minority groups (non Muslims) and antagonists to this new regime. The linguistic revolution and the “Speak Turkish” campaigns applied much pressure to minority groups, the most obvious of which was the Jewish community. The “Speak Turkish” campaigns resulted in the need for the Jewish community to re‐draw the community boundaries that defined its cultural identity.


Keywords: Speak Turkish Campaigns, non‐Muslim minorities, Jews, Turkification, language revolution, nation‐state