Wednesday, October 15, 2014


Erdogan recently made the news in the US with some comments about Lawrence of Arabia. Many Americans seem shocked that people in Turkey don't remember Lawrence as fondly as we do. But Erdogan, not surprisingly, is far from the first person in Turkey to to express such sentiments. Consider the 2006 movie Eve Giden Yol, which served as the slightly over the top Turkish response to Lawrence of Arabia. There was this fantastic scene of Lawrence visiting the tomb of Salahaddin, as well as a slightly different take on blowing up trains full of Turkish soldiers. But way before any of this was a remarkable obituary published on the occasion of Lawrence's death in the May 23, 1935 issue of the magazine Akbaba. Editor Yusuf Ziya Ortac, it should be noted, had some problematic political views of his own, but in these choice words for Lawrence he was echoing the thoughts of many in Turkey who had seen his post-war legend grow. Some highlights:

Istanbul is famous for its beauty, Ankara its will; Paris its liveliness, Viena its operas, Switzerland its Sanatoriums and England is famous for Lawrence.

In the deserts during the Great War the Turkish army's most feared microbe was him.

In Lawrence's death the world's gain is as great as England's loss. Now it is more possible for nations to love each other and work together for peace.

Lawrence's death. As with any great joy it isn't easy to believe the good news.

If Lawrence is really dead... in that case people face a new fear: the fear of the hereafter.

Below, Araplı Lawrence (left) from Eve Giden Yol

Perhaps the most ridiculous thing about all of this is that if anyone deserves credit for being the Lawrence of modern day Syria, it is undoubtedly Erdogan, who's spent the past three years supporting an Arab revolt.