Were There Minorities in the Ottoman State? An Evaluation of the Legal Status of Non-Muslim Citizens of the Ottoman State in the 19th Century
GÜLLÜ, Ramazan Erhan
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This study aims to examine the status of the non-Muslim citizens of the Ottoman State and how they are defined by the state. The main point of the investigation will be the concept of minority and whether this concept can be used for the non-Muslim subjects of the Ottoman State. The definition of minority was used among the intellectuals, especially after the Ottoman constitution came into force in 1908. Muslim and non-Muslim intellectuals agreed to define non-Muslim citizens as minorities as a result of the administrative transformation of the country. However, such a definition was not used in any official sense. After all the state, which aimed to promote the notion of "Ottoman citizenship", did not want to define any element in minority status. After the proclamation of the Republic, in the first studies regarding the Ottoman period, non-Muslims were mentioned as minorities. This definition, which is used both in the Ottoman period and thereafter, causes an anachronism when evaluating historical events. The term "minority" is a modern term and has a meaningful response regarding national states. Only after the Treaty of Lausanne non-Muslim citizens of the Republic of Turkey are considered as minorities. Therefore it is not correct to use this definition regarding the Ottoman period.
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