The Diaspora Turks
A cluster profile of 15 diaspora Turkish groups.
The Turks arrived in Antolia, Turkey (Asia Minor) in the eleventh century as conquering warriors. By the year 1299, the Ottoman Dynasty began ruling over what would soon become a vast empire. Over twenty states fell under the Ottoman rule, including present day Hungary, Yugoslavia, Southern Russia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Libya, and Saudi Arabia. This huge empire lasted until Turkey became a republic in 1923.
Because of the empire's size, emigrations, and conquests, Turks were soon scattered throughout many areas outside of Turkey. Nevertheless, one common bond continued to link them together: their language. They speak Turkish or Turkce, a Southwestern Oghuz-Turkic language. Today, major Turkish communities can be found throughout Turkey, as well as Europe, the Middle East, and even Australia.
What are their lives like?
The first crisis in this development came with the short economic recession of 1966-67. In Germany, approximately 70,000 Turkish workers lost their jobs. However, few of the Turks returned to their homeland, as was expected. As the economy gradually improved over the next six years, Germany saw its greatest influx of Turkish workers. In 1973 alone, more than 100,000 Turks moved into the area. From 1989 to 1992, there was yet another large influx of people from eastern Europe, especially from Turkey, Yugoslavia, and Italy.
The Turks have a deep sense of nationalistic pride and love for their country. They are a very sincere people who place a high value on honor. They rely strongly on group solidarity, or trust in one's own group. Such groups would include one's village, family, friends, or schoolmates.
Turks are also a very sensitive people. For example, they do not appreciate the criticisms that Westerners sometimes write about them or about their past brutal ways. Their sensitivity can be clearly seen by comparing two proverbs of a similar theme. In the United States, a well-known proverb says, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." The Turkish proverb says, "The hurt of a stick dies away, but words hurt forever."
Inside most Turkish communities, marriages are often arranged by the parents. Weddings usually take place between two young people who are in their teens. Though marriages are not always arranged, if a university student meets someone he would like to marry at school, advice from his parents is still attained before a marriage can take place. In such a case, the "dating classmates" are not allowed to go out by themselves, but only with groups of friends. Otherwise, criticisms and rumors may spread in their communities.
Relaxation is of the utmost importance to a Turk. Coffee houses are places where men meet to talk politics, business, or to gossip. At any time of day, a Turk may be seen sitting in a garden, in a coffeehouse, or in his favorite scenic spot, enjoying the view around him, playing an instrument, or meditating.
What are their beliefs?
What are their needs?
The Islamic religion is very difficult to penetrate. Under Islamic law, the penalty for a change of faith is death. The Turks who are living in Christian countries desperately need to see Christianity lived out--believers who will demonstrate the love of God towards them. How else will they understand that abundant life is found in Christ alone?
It is God's will for the Muslim Turks to come to know Him, for He "...is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." (II Peter 3:9) Prayer alone has the power to break through the strongholds of Islam. Intercessors are needed to daily stand in the gap and pray for the salvation of the Turkish people.
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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