Turkish Attitudes Toward Arabs (and everyone else)

SETA has issued a new report (click here for the full report in English) based on a study of Turkish attitudes toward Arabs and others. Pretty negative overall, with results varying somewhat between upper and lower income groups and men and women.

Attitude towards Arabs: 39% negative, 34% positive. (Egypt is liked better than Oman; 44% dislike Iraq.) 71% don’t listen to Arab music and 93% don’t read Arabic literature, although 50% are interested in learning Arabic and 65% like Saudi investment in Turkey. Ever the pragmatists.

40% like Iranians, 31% don’t. (More women than men dislike them.)

65% don’t like Americans.

37% like Europeans, 35% dislike them. (Younger people like them more, women less.)

74% don’t like Armenians; 72% don’t like Jews (young people of lower status are more negative toward Jews)

The following results are from a Turkish news report about what I think is the same study, although I didn’t see these results in the study. Maybe they’re in the Turkish original (which I didn’t see posted on the SETA website.)

28% of men like the Russians, but only 13% of women do.

Nobody really cares one way or the other about the Chinese: like 37%, dislike 30%.

Who should you do long-term business with? 31% chose the [Central Asian] Turkish republics, 26% Islamic countries, 23% EU, 12% US, Russia and China 8%.

11 Responses to “Turkish Attitudes Toward Arabs (and everyone else)”

  1. High education, high income Turks have a more negative toward Arabs than lower education, lower income Turks. Very predictable really. There is a deep-seated and very ugly racism against Arabs in these “educated” sectors of the Turkish society (see here: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=6381755&id=42113030774 for a particularly repugnant example of this). They see Arabs the same way Europeans see Turks in general.

  2. completely agree with O.

  3. There is some dislike of Arabs indeed, but I don’t think that cartoon captures it. Let us see it in context.
    The verses that the PM recited to provoke that cover was:
    Türk Arap’sız yaşayamaz; kim ki yaşar der, delidir. Arabın, Türk hem sağ gözüdür, hem sağ elidir. (from here: http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/gundem/14990933.asp )
    Direct translation:
    The Turk cannot live without the Arab,
    Whoever says he can, is crazy
    The Turk is the Arab’s
    Right hand and right eye
    I think the reaction to this has been mild outside cartoons which speaks volumes about how servile and rezil the visible Turkish intellectual classes are. So M. Akif said that, why is the PM reciting it? Let me hazard a guess: rich Arabs are in that meeting. (If you read the text in the survey you’ll see it also has a tone, and is written like a propaganda manual. For example even though there is no question in the survey about it, the author just asserts the reservations about Arab investment are anti-‘green capital’ and ‘ideological.’)
    So, just to see how it would look, let us substitute Jew for Arab and American for Turk in those verses. What will it sound like? It’ll sound like Americans act as muscle for the Jews and that it is crazy to think otherwise. No? I picked “Jew” deliberately instead of Israeli to show where the racial implication began (just like “Arab” was used instead of “oil-rich despots of the gulf” by the Turkish PM). Now as a reaction to that if some US cartoonist drew the president in Hasidic attire and had him say ‘went to the mohel too’ would that be objectionable? Perhaps, but people would rightly be more concerned with what the president had said.
    As for the Arab attire sans underwear, some [rich?] Arabs stroll around Istanbul wearing that with fully covered women following a few meters behind. I don’t know how the Europeans see Turks but this is what I see in Istanbul. (I understand the Lebanese and Syrians blend right in, these dress-wearing Arabs must be Saudi or something. The ‘racist’ element in that cartoon is in using that stereotype, perhaps.).

  4. Oh I just went and read the comments under the cartoon too. Someone there — IMHO rightly — observed that what can be seen as racism is merely the reinforcement of the stereotype. Of course there’s also the regular tripe (that we used to get here too and still might) used to shut people up and keep them from thinking as in: “bunu ırkçı bulmayan ırkçıdır”
    This is how such things work, unfortunately. Never try to dig further, never say something doesn’t fit the prevailing attitude, bully people into conformity and parrot-hood etc.

  5. CA. on your question How Europeans see Turks…
    Difficult to give an answer, but from personal experience the Italians are blunt and bold racist against Turks and the Greeks and French are the most friendly against people from Turkey.
    However there is, in general, a dislike for and people feel great discomfort for Anatolian people.
    In general, again, the Turkish population in West Europe are not your best ambassadors, which is a different case in for example the UK, USA or Brazil (Porte Alegre has a population of ca 1. million ‘Turco’s’.

  6. Hans,

    CA. on your question How Europeans see Turks…

    I don’t remember asking that question; but, thank you for answering it all the same.

    However there is, in general, a dislike for and people feel great discomfort for Anatolian people.

    Personally, as I get older, I am less and less bothered by these things..
    I can also see why they would dislike Anatolians: There’s quite a cultural difference. I mean, where on Earth do you find people loving a musical instrument called ‘saz’ (or, ‘baglama’) or other ‘weird’ tunes..
    Take a listen to the following random sample (I have also deliberately randomized the order):
    Clip 1
    Clip 2
    Clip 3
    Clip 4
    Clip 5
    Clip 6
    Clip 7
    Clip 8
    Clip 9
    These, and others, resonate with almost all of ‘us’; yet, they sound strange (or weird, or even repulsive) to many/most European/Anglo_Saxon/Latin ears..

    In general, again, the Turkish population in West Europe are not your best ambassadors [..].

    I am fine with that: They don’t need to be ambassadors. Europe will come around.

  7. […] World War II.  I think it offers background to the data Jenny White has been posting on her blog, Kamil Pasha, about attitudes toward minorities in Turkey.  Here is the except that I found most striking from […]

  8. Europeans lived in fear of Turks for centuries, and they did it for a reason: They were under the constant threat of invasion or Islamicization, not to mention the efforts of some Ottoman rulers such as Suleiman the Magnificient who poured money to undermine the Catholic church and give birth to alternatives like Protestantism. Today, this fear manifests itself in the form of dislike or hate toward Turks. The feeling is so deeply rooted that Europe won’t look forward to embracing Turks and their culture even though they are hardly any cause for fear today. I think we need to understand the context and the reasons behind the feelings before jumping to conclusions.

  9. I think negative feelings from Turks toward Arabs is a reality simply because of what Arabs did during WWI. Until then, Turks considered Arabs their brother-in-religion. As a result of too well known British strategies, Arabs were fooled by inflated feelings of Arab nationalism and provoked against Turks. From Turks’ perspective, what Arabs did during the collapse of Ottoman Empire amounts nothing more than being backstabbed. That, I think, is the one, single reason why we observe these negative feelings among Turks today.

  10. Ant.
    What happened during WWI was an unfortunate episode in our common history. However, it was all Arabs who took the same position. The Shammar tribes north east of the Peninsula, as well as the Saadon’s fought alongside their Turkish brethren. Many in Syria chose to fight in their uniform alongside the Ottoman empire. The failure of the first British campaign in Iraq also proves IRaqis fought for the Ottomans. Even in Kuwait, the Brits had to assassinate the Original Sheikh to manage to cut Kuwait out of the Basrah control.
    YOu can also see the names of Arab fighters in Çanakale and too a lesser extent Baku, Afyon Hissar and other places buried along their Turkish brethren to prove the myth of treason was untrue (or at least was not universal). Almost 35% of the Ottoman Army fighting in these places was built from volunteers from Arab lands.
    THe Idam policies of Jamal Pasha also played a role in creating a negative view among Arabs towards their Turksh brethren. Now it is time to correct this part of History that we should not forget but also not dwell on the negative parts but rather see the overall history, which has been positive overall. I say this to both my Arab and Turkish brethren

  11. […] […]

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