These acts of destruction were justified with a bill that was passed in 1927. Moreover, this law, numbered 1057, is still in force.
The efforts to reject our Ottoman heritage that started in the early years of the republic have left a bad memory in the Anatolian consciousness. This land certainly has seen an increase in vandalism with the destruction of all the traces and signs of a majestic civilization. But who allowed this to happen? Who vengefully eliminated the traces of our ancestors from our memories? To find the answers, we need to look to the past.
Ekrem Rize, the deputy from Rize in the second term of the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TBMM), drafted a bill in 1927 to destroy the remainder of the country’s Ottoman heritage. The bill, which he prepared alone, was passed by Parliament after 73 sessions. Thus, Law No. 1057 was promulgated in the Official Gazette dated June 15, 1927. In his speech, Rize argued that sultans’ monograms and epitaphs from the Ottoman era must be immediately removed. “That there is a sultan’s coat of arms and eulogy on the portal of a school which is nurtured by the ideals of the republic is odd, and such an eccentricity cannot be found in another country,” he said.
Rize was a full-fledged enemy of the past. In his speeches, he portrayed the Ottoman heritage as a past rife with murders and personal ambitions. In his eyes, Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror was an ordinary man and there was no need to glorify him. Speaking from the parliamentary rostrum, he leveled insults at the Ottoman sultans, the sultanate and the caliphate. The foregoing information can be found in researcher/author Osman Öndeş’s book, “Vurun Osmanlı’ya” (Stoning the Ottoman), published by TİMAŞ. What inspired him to write such a book was Law No. 1057, which is still in effect. Öndeş sees this law as a nation’s self-denial. Noting that our civilization saw tremendous destruction of its heritage in the post-1927 era, he depicts this policy as humiliating and denigrating.
He points out that the information and documents he provides in his book cover only a small portion of the destruction that İstanbul suffered. “As my work progressed, I had an uneasy feeling. ‘How can one be so unfair and immoral?’ I asked myself. Sultans represent our genealogy. We denied ourselves by removing their monograms. Does our nation’s history begin in 1923? Were we born to this world on that date?” asks Öndeş, adding that there were also large campaigns of destruction in Bursa and Edirne.
He depicts Rize, who fought a one-man battle for the passing of this law, as “paranoid.” Öndeş explains that while Parliament was busy with the problems caused by its enemies, Rize continually called on Parliament to “wipe out everything that is reminiscent of the Ottomans.” To Öndeş, it is disgraceful to eradicate one’s history.
İstanbul mayor in breach of law
According to the law, it is forbidden for state officials to work in buildings bearing the Ottoman state coat of arms, a sultan’s monogram or any Ottoman inscription. Öndeş finds this tragicomic: “Under this law, the İstanbul mayor cannot work in Babıali because there are monograms and inscription there. It is ironic, but the İstanbul mayor is in violation of the law.” Likewise, Mühendishane-i Berrî-i Hümayûn, built by Selim II in Sütlüce, is currently being used as a recruitment office, and the main gate of the building has a monograms and inscriptions. “In this case, the Defense Ministry is in violation of this law. To continue with its activities in this building, it has to cover up the monograms or leave the building,” he says. Öndeş explains that the law has been in force since 1927. “We, as the nation, can no longer ignore this disgrace. The government must at once abolish this law,” he says.