• Mustafa Çolak

CREATING THE MYTH OF “FOREIGN THREATS” IN TURKISH STATE-SPONSORED TV SERIES

For a decade, TRT (Turkish state broadcaster) has been increasingly producing TV series about Ottoman history. One of the most popular historical drama is "Payitaht: Abdülhamid," which focuses on the final decade of Sultan Abdülhamid II's reign (r.1876-1909). TV series portrayed the sultan as an ideal and just ruler and striving to defend the interests of the Ottoman Empire against domestic and foreign threats as a matter of survival.


The drama's plot develops as the Sultan discovers his enemies' despicable dispositions to destroy his Empire. First, he exposed a clandestine global organization, namely "the global monarchy," which aims to build a new world order without his Empire. The Queen of the British Empire is the champion of this conspiracy, which the world's wealthiest families fully support, such as Rothschilds and Rockefellers. They cooperate with the various states, the Papacy, the Free Masons, minority groups, including the Jewish community, to materialize their agenda of "new world order." The contemporary superpowers such as the British Empire, France, and the Russian Empire stage multiple conspiracies to covertly oust the Sultan.


The TV series promotes three central symbols representing the archenemies: the Star of David, Keys of Heaven, and the Sigil of Baphomet. These symbols are frequently revealed throughout the weekly episodes, whether hidden in secret messages or exhibited to specific group affiliations inside dark cellars, churches, and temples during the clandestine meetings.


As the well-known emblem of modern Israel, the Star of David symbolizes Zionism and the Jewish group. The second most-presented symbol, the Keys of Heaven, signifies the Catholic Church's authority. The Sigil of Baphomet and pentagram represent the third group, the freemasons, and they installed multiple portrayals of this symbol in the temples. Checkered floors and Roman columns are also distinctive features for temples of such freemasons who always wear masks in the dark meeting room.


Turkish state channel-sponsored historical fiction promotes the Neo-Ottomanist agenda. It aims to serve a new cultural hegemonic ambition called "New Turkey" by reconstructing the Ottoman past as a quintessential ingredient of this political agenda. Furthermore, conspiracies, including various foreign threats, endeavor to obliterate the Republic of Turkey. This propaganda builds the conception of "us" and "others" in all walks of life.


The TV series banalizes conspiracies and the liabilities of secret societies for any corruption and then helps the audience internalize these banalities as political parallelism.

Many believe that producers of the Payitaht attempt to represent Abdulhamid II as a ruler, who had very similar challenges that the President Erdogan of Turkey allegedly faced by constructing parallelism on topics of this drama to Turkey's contemporary issues. The series serves to create the myth of ever-lasting foreign threats in the public eyes. Politicians frequently bolster this myth in public by agitating it as an existential threat to Turkey.











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