Saturday, April 26, 2008

Good Muslim ancestry

Lest I be accused of only mentioning one London mayoral candidate, click the title for the low down on where the Boris blonde locks did not originate. An extract from the Spectator article now.

"Boris Johnson is one eighth Turkish. His great-grandfather (there is, if you abstract the fez and the moustache, a family resemblance) was a well-known writer, Ali Kemal (1868–1922) who came, because of his politics, to a tragic end. He knew England very well, and when the British occupied Constantinople for four years at the end of the first world war, he collaborated with them. They had left the Sultan on his throne, and there was a puppet government which controlled a few back-streets. Poor Ali Kemal made the awful mistake of becoming its minister of the interior for some three months. ... Then he spent his time on journalism, and taught at the university: he knew a great deal about literature. But a nationalist resistance built up in the interior (based on Ankara) and when, late in 1922, it triumphed, Ali Kemal did not leave.

It was crazy: the Sultan himself was smuggled out in a British ambulance to Malta, and the Ottoman dynasty was thrown to the four winds. History does not reveal the reasons for Ali Kemal’s staying. At any rate he was picked up, while being shaved at the Grand Cercle d’Orient in the European city — it was the Levantines’ club, and only Turks of a high rank were admitted — and put on a train for trial in Ankara. His captor, Nurettin Pasha, had lost his two sons in the war, and had gone a little mad. Somehow, he allowed a mob to take Ali Kemal off the train at Izmit, the old Nicomedia, and they lynched him. ...

The story ends, none the less, with some uplift. He had had two wives, one British — hence the Boris connection — and, after her death from childbirth, one Turkish. Boris (and his father, Stanley Johnson) has done him proud. On the Turkish side, there was a boy, Zeki Kuneralp, who was very bright and needed a state scholarship. Kemal Atatürk, the chief target of Ali Kemal’s journalistic attacks, was by then the Turkish equivalent of de Gaulle. He said: give that boy the money. Zeki’s son is now a chief negotiator on the subject Turkey-in-Europe. Another son is a leading publisher."

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