(By Syed Atiq ul Hassan):
[Australia and Turkey have a complex history, with their relationship once strained due to Australia’s involvement in the Gallipoli campaign during the First World War, where over 8,700 Australian and 2,779 New Zealand soldiers lost their lives. However, in recent times, the two nations have developed a strong relationship. This is evidenced by Australia’s recent aid efforts to Turkey following a devastating earthquake, where the Australian Government and the public have provided emergency services and medical supplies to the victims.]
In the recent devastating earthquake in Turkey, the Australian government and the public have stepped up to help the earthquake victims. The Australian Government is providing emergency services to Australians in the earthquake-affected areas of Turkey. It includes 72 different teams of fire and rescue experts. Most of these experts belong to the state of New South Wales in Australia.
Remember that a few weeks ago, there was a 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Turkey, whose axis was in the border areas of Turkey and Syria. About two weeks post-earthquake shocks again killed and injured dozens of people and several buildings were smashed again. Reports from the Turkish and international media revealed that the death toll in the earthquake is over 100,000, while the bodies of around 50,000 people have been recovered so far from the rubble. The number of seriously injured victims is hundreds and thousands. Not enough treatment facilities are available to take care of thousands of injured people. Australia and New Zealand have sent doctors, nurses, paramedics, and rescue equipment to Turkey beyond their resources. Apart from this, spell-trained dogs, medicines, and other equipment have also been sent to Turkey to remove bodies from the debris.
Looking at the historical background of Australia, New Zealand, and Turkey relations, there was a time when the governments and people of Turkey disliked Australia and New Zealand. In Britain’s war against the Ottoman Empire, Australia, and New Zealand landed their troops in Gallipoli on the Turkish coast to fight against Turks forces in 1915. Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, Ireland, France, India, and the Newfoundland army continued the war against the Mujahideen of the Ottoman Empire. In this war, Australia and New Zealand sent more than 100,000 soldiers to fight against Ottoman Empire. According to historians, a total of 130,000 European allies and 87,000 soldiers of the Ottoman Empire were killed. 8,700 Australian soldiers and 2,779 New Zealand soldiers were killed. Since then, Australia and New Zealand commemorate the deaths of their soldiers every year. This day is remembered as ANZAC Day (Day of Australia and New Zealand) every year on April 25. The deaths of Australian soldiers are commemorated with a national holiday. Relatives of dead soldiers are invited, and military parades are held in cities. Awards are distributed to soldiers who have delivered extraordinary services for the country in the year.
Australian and New Zealander top military officials and civil representatives begin the day with a cannon salute as the sun rises on the Turkish coast of Gallipoli. Australian, New Zealand, and Turkish military personnel salute Australian and New Zealand ambassadors and senior Turkish officials. Australia and New Zealand also pay tribute to deceased soldiers in provincial and national parliaments on ANZ Day. The leaders of Australia and New Zealand educate their people about the importance and achievements of the military. The war between Turkey, Australia, and New Zealand was the beginning of the First World War. The war lasted several years between the Ottoman Empire and Europe, finally, the Ottoman Empire was defeated and thus the Ottoman Empire lost the war not only in Turkey but also in occupied Eastern Europe. The great Islamic period of the Ottoman Empire ended in many regions of the Middle East. At the end of the same war, Britain liberated the Middle East from the Turks and divided the gulf region into different states, and awarded the tribal leaders the owners of each state. Today we see the states of the Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Oman, etc. In fact, all of them were part of the kingdoms of the Ottoman Empire.
Friendly relations between Australia and Turkey were developed when Australia and Turkey established their diplomatic relations in 1967. In 1968, the Turkish embassy was established in the
Australian capital, Canberra, and Turkish consulates were established in Sydney and Melbourne. Along with this, Australia also established its embassy in Ankara.
Australia opened its doors to Turkish citizens in the fifties, sixties, and mid-seventies. Several Turks from Turkey settled in Australia on various visas and flourish as a viable Australian Muslim community. In the last 50 years or so both, Australia, and Turkey, have prospered their relations in different sectors particularly, trade, education, and tourism.
Today, after the Arabs, the largest Muslim community in Australia is the Turk community. Australian Turk Muslims have made extraordinary contributions to Islamic preaching, mosques, Islamic schools, and community centres in Australia. The Gallipoli Mosque built by the Turkish community in Auburn (a famous suburb of Sydney) is the most beautiful mosque in Australia. The construction project of the mosque was laid down in 1986 and completed in 1999 after 13 years of hard work and dedication. The financial cost of the project of the Gallipoli Masjid was borne by the Turkish government and the Turkish community. Two thousand worshipers can pray simultaneously in this mosque. An average of five hundred prayers attend the mosque every day. Apart from the Turkish community, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Yemeni, Arab, and Indian worshipers regularly offer prayers in this mosque. Recently, an Islamic old Age Centre for the elderly has also been established adjacent to the mosque, in which advanced facilities are available for the elderly according to Islamic ethics and practices. Apart from this, a gym center is also established for youth. Auburn has the largest Turkish community. The business hub of Auburn is located in and around Auburn Road called the central area of Australian Muslims in Sydney. There are plenty of Turkish, Pakistani, Iranian, Afghani, Bangladeshi, and Arab restaurants and Pakistani, Turkish, and Arabic grocery stores, several Islamic schools are also located in this area where hundreds of Muslim children receive Islamic and general education.
Similarly, the second-largest Turkish community resides in Melbourne. Famous Turkish restaurants, halal meat, and grocery stores populate Melbourne’s famous Sydney Road. Muslims come here from the far reaches of Melbourne to eat and shop. In addition, there are many large Turkish mosques and Islamic schools exist in Melbourne. It would not be wrong to say that Arab and Turkish Muslims have delivered remarkable services in spreading Islam in Australia.
When the images of the recent earthquake in Turkey and the horrific scenes of death and destruction of property reached Australia through the media, all Islamic organizations became active in collecting all kinds of donations and financial aid for the victims. So far, the Australian Islamic Community has sent several containers of blankets, warm clothes, shoes, and other emergency supplies to Turkey. Islamic organizations have collected millions of Australian dollars in donations and sent them to the earthquake victims through the Turkish embassy, and this aid is still actively being distributed. (Syed Atiq ul Hassan, Sydney-based journalist, anthropologist, writer and editor Tribune International. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org ).
Concluded on 23 February 2023