Following are excerpts from an interview with Prince Orhan Aal Othman, grandson of Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid II, which aired on TRT Arabic on December 9, 2011.
Prince Orhan Aal Othman: The Ottoman state did not collapse in a year or two, or even ten or twenty years. It began when Sultan Abdulhamid made his decision in his meeting with Dr. Herzl. Herzl made several requests to meet Sultan Abdulhamid, and he was refused - once, twice, and three times. The fourth time, he met him, and [Herzl] prepared the ground... he asked him for land in Palestine, to serve as a place for settlement of the Jews. When the Sultan rejected this request – that was the beginning of the fall of the Ottoman state. A decision was made that there should no longer be an Ottoman state, a caliphate, or a sultanate.
Interviewer: So you are saying that Herzl was the cause of this.
Prince Orhan Aal Othman: Exactly.
Interviewer: Some Turkish history books maintain that the Arabs were the cause.
Prince Orhan Aal Othman: No, of course not.
Interviewer: You are clearing the Arabs?
Prince Orhan Aal Othman: Absolutely.
I came back to Turkey because I wanted to return to my country and live in it. Will the Ottomans regain the country? I consider the new generation to be entirely Ottoman, Allah be praised. The current ruling party bears the Ottoman spirit, and rules in keeping with it. It doesn't have to be ruled by someone from the Othman dynasty. It is the same spirit.
I am an Ottoman, of course, come what may.
Interviewer: How will you establish a political party as a member of the Othman family?
Prince Orhan Aal Othman: It's not forbidden.
Interviewer: It runs counter to Turkish ideology.
Prince Orhan Aal Othman: Today, there is democracy in Turkey. We're getting into politics here... Since we have a democracy in Turkey, I can establish a political party, and nobody can tell me that I can't. The only thing the party cannot do is to demand to restore the caliphate or the sultanate. As long as you are in Turkey, and you enter parliament and establish a party - there is no problem. You can form a party as long as you believe in democracy, in a republic, in the premiership, and in parliament - and we believe in all this.
Secularism is the only thing that is a little far-fetched for us.