We would presumably be more self-confident. We would have non-Muslim deputies in Parliament, just as was the case with the Ottoman Assembly of Deputies (Meclis-i Mebusan). And we would not have the Kurdish issue whatsoever. We wouldn’t be a society that has lost its memory.
For instance, we would not hang a placard reading “Istanbul since 1453” during a soccer match between Turkish and Greek national teams.
My friend, Bekir Berat Ozipek, who related this incident to me, said: “In essence, this placard gives the following message to Greek fans: ‘We don’t feel like we belong to this city. This city is yours, but we have just captured it’.”
I don’t think there will be a better sentence that can explain gracefully the “mood” for carefully hiding Byzantine remnants and refraining from exhibiting them on the streets.
If we had not banished non-Muslims and if we had had the courage and honesty to face the misty passages of our history, we would surely not have taken offense from writing “Constantinople” beneath the signboard for “Istanbul.” We would have found the creative courage to re-open the Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya) as a church/mosque where Christians and Muslims can worship together and in peace. We would commemorate Istanbul’s Armenian architects with gratitude. We would refer to Sinan the architect, who gave so many magnificent works to the Ottoman Empire, with his original name that proves his Armenian roots, namely Armen Sinanyan. And we would bow in front of this great master respecting his real identity, and we would contemplate with ecstasy under this dome of nations where a myriad of races and religions have intermingled.
If we did not have such complexes, we would not have discussed whether the current successor of the Greek patriarch, whose autonomy Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror revived, is ecumenical or not, and we would be boasting with the fact that our country is hosting the leader and institution of the second largest sect of Christianity.