Islamic Enlightenment versus Westernization in Turkish Cinema savas arslan

mehmet: You behave like a young Viennese girl. You are learning western music:

Bach, Beethoven, and Strauss. Why? leyla: It is very simple: I like Vienna and the Viennese.

mehmet: But you are not Viennese. You are from Istanbul. You are a Turk. I cannot understand why one would learn somebody else's music without learning one's own. from a conversation in the movie Memleketim

Popular Turkish cinema, known as Yegilgam, peaked in the 1960s and 1970s in a complex context; it needed to respond not only to the hegemony of Hollywood but also to the complex realities of Turkish political and social life. Founded in 1923, the Republic of Turkey made a radical break with its formidable predecessor, the Ottoman Empire, by constructing a republican state based on Western models. An extensive program of reforms rooted in European models and French laicism changed the alphabet from Arabic to Latin script, westernized the calendar, and outlawed Islamic forms of dress, including the red hat known as a fez (itself a product of nineteenth-century westernizing reforms) and the full-body veil worn by women. Structural changes such as legal and educational reform were made tangible and visible through signs of everyday life, including writing and dress. State programs reformed the arts, discouraging traditional Ottoman forms in favor of a synthesis of Western and folk traditions. Yet this centralized program could not completely reform the populace in its image. Rather, the reality of Turkish experience during the twentieth century became an uneasy bridge between East and West, between Turkey's centrally projected modern identity, based in cities and remarkably secularist, and the traditional and reli gious practice persisting in the periphery. While many ideological groups agree that Turkey must forge a bridge between East and West, the type of bridge has always been a contested issue. In addition to the bridge forged by the central government in the field of culture, a variety of alternative bridge projects came from both the left and right sides of the political spectrum. But with all of these projects, youth has been taken as the river that runs under the bridge—a river that might be changed with dams, bridges, or by merely rerouting its flow. Countering the republican cultural projects, one such alternative project for a bridge came from the conservative religious right. Far from Islamist in the sense of a fundamentalist vision, the four films discussed in this essay are about a religious bridge for Turkish youth who find themselves at a moment of choice between Western and Eastern cultural and religious values.

The Turkish director Yucel Cakmakli says that his entry into the filmmaking business was marked by the ''double reality'' of modern Turkey, which oscillates between West and East. He explores this theme in his 1975 film Memleketim (My Homeland), a romance between a medical student raised in rural Turkey and a rich girl from Istanbul who meet in Austria, where they are attending university. In Cakmakli's words, these two young people ''meet there and in the meantime [the filmmakers] explain the problem of westernization . . . for the first time in Turkish cinema, cultural dichotomy is the obstacle before their union.''1 The film begins when Mehmet (Tarik Akan), a medical student investigating the effects of recreational drugs, meets Leyla (Filiz Akin), a conservatory student captivated by Western culture. He wanders toward a group of her friends, who are singing to the accompaniment of a guitar, playing a John Sebastian tune. She asks in English if he is Turkish, to which he responds that he is from China; then she begins to tease her friends by claiming that they are both Afghani. Innocent as the repartee seems, it sets the film in a context where the non-West has no identity in the eyes of the West and the westernized. Thus Mehmet, eager to return home to serve his people, comes to criticize Leyla for rejecting her roots. Together, they tour Austria, stopping at museums commemorating Ottoman incursions into the area. Salzberg, birthplace of Mozart (who composed Rondo Alla Turca), becomes the backdrop for their discussion of the relative merits of Turkish and Western culture. The museums, of course, present the Turks as invaders, while for Mehmet they symbolize the historic might of the empire. As they travel, the sound track shifts between limpid examples of classical music and powerfully heroic Turkish folk songs that celebrate historic battles against Europe. Leaving for Turkey, Mehmet criticizes Leyla for behaving like a Viennese girl, uprooted from her own culture.

Unlike Mehmet, who plans to heal his countrymen, she plans to bring Western classical music to Turkey, thus diluting local culture. Up to this point, the film follows the structure of a melodrama, the primary genre of popular Turkish cinema; however, the sexual tension that has mounted between them is suddenly cut short as he departs for Turkey and she remains in Austria. There, Leyla finds herself in an identity crisis without him. She soon returns to Turkey, delights her grandmother by learning Turkish music, and goes in search of Mehmet. By the time she gets to him, it is too late: he is already married to a properly Turkish woman. The experiment in a dual reality has thus irretrievably failed; it is this danger, on a national scale, which the film is designed to underscore. The two projects of identity building imposed on young people are both on the same contested terrain, carrying the tensions of cultural westernization at different levels. Memleketim and the other three films to be discussed here overtly go against the promise of republican ideology through the use of a popular language—film—which, unlike other modes of artistic production in Turkey, was not directly mediated by the state.

It is this concern with the ''dual reality'' of modern Turkey that characterized the projects of the political left and the conservative, or Islamist, right in the 1960s and 1970s. As aptly put by Kemal Tahir, with reference to Marx, the two sides of the dichotomy denote two different worldviews: ''The issue we call westernization was called 'The Eastern Problem' by Westerners" (131). Thus the makers of the Turkish state adopted the imperialist problem of formulating the East in the image of the West, reproducing the imperialist ethos within a nationalist ideology. Tahir proposed that the path against the ills of westernization should pass through socialism; Turkish Islamists shared this revulsion against the West. Necip Fazil Kisakurek argues that the West has the mind and rationality to conquer this world, but it lacks the ''spirit'' of the East (224). For him, the technology and reason of the West will solve everyday problems but not the ills of any society, which can only be eliminated with the introduction of Islamic ideology. Even though the means of these projects differ, the longing toward a bridge of social engineering is hardly different in structure from that of the republican ideology of westernization that it opposes. In all of them, the prescriptions might have been different, but the younger generation was seen as being at the center of each project; youth would elevate Turkey above its current state.

Turkish popular cinema emerged despite the plans of the educated elite, whose projects disregarded tradition and ethnicity in favor of nationalist modernization programs. In their picture of positivist social engineering, seeking the path toward uplifting Turkey to the level of European civili zations, there was no place for Islam and traditional culture. As Abdullah Cevdet, a late Ottoman intellectual, wrote, ''There is no other civilization: Civilization means European civilization and it must be imported with its roses and thorns'' (quoted in Halman, 24). This importation was not limited to the sociopolitical and economic realms, but also involved a redefinition of arts and culture. One of the founding fathers of the cultural policies of the Turkish Republic, Ziya Gokalp, outlined what he considered to be the ''essentials of Turkism'' in his book of the same title. For him, the arts had to be strictly defined along the lines of Western conceptions such as humanism, high art, canons, conventions, originality, authenticity, and artistic creativity. Gokalp deemed Western genres and a modernized version of traditional folk genres appropriate for the construction of Turkish arts while disparaging Ottoman and Islamic genres. For example, Gokalp first delineates three types of music available in Turkey in the 1920s: Eastern music, Western music, and folk music. Then he claims that Eastern music is what is foreign to Turks, while folk music belongs to the Turkish Kultur [culture], and Western music to the new civilization of Turks. Thus genres like classical Ottoman music were ignored while Western classical music and opera, along with modernized versions of folk music, were favored. The new national culture had to be disseminated to all of the regions within the borders of Turkey, regardless of local ethnic identities.

It is not, then, very surprising that Necip Fazil Kisakurek disparaged him as a ''Durkheim thief'' whose Turkism was completely against Islam (78). Kisakurek situated himself in opposition to Western culture, including the modernization or polyphonization of Turkish music through Western models, which had been one of Gokalp's projects. Given this frame, Gokalp's and Kisakurek's differences constituted a debate on what is a thorn and what is a rose: the West, or Islam? In spite of this public debate, the issue tackled by Memleketim was never directly addressed by the social engineers of the republic. In this vacuum, popular works like Memleketim emerged, taking on issues already ideologically coded in other art forms. As will be seen below, popular Islamic films also responded to such modernization projects by repeating the binaries set by the republican projects, such as East and West, traditional and modern. Instead of eliminating cultural modernization or social engineering projects imposed upon the people (with youth as a particular target), the films discussed here articulate a line of thinking similar to that of Necip Fazil Kisakurek, basically repeating these dualities.

The film Memleketim takes its name from a famous pop song of the era reflecting the nationalist mood of the mid-1970s, following the war in Cyprus. This pop song has a Western musical infrastructure, which £akmakli nor mally disparaged as anathema to the national and Islamic character of his audience, but he decided to use it because it suited the mood of the film. This reflects the tactics of popular cinema exploiting any available tool. Nonetheless, the film's sound track mirrors the stress between Western classical music (Mozart's Austria) and Ottoman religious and classical music. Such a contrast goes back to the qualities of essence: while Gokalp talks about the "essentials," ^akmakli talks about an "essence" that we lost and to which we must return. And though these notions are opposed, with "essentials" evoking the West, and "essence" evoking a lost Turkish past, both ideas refer to the project of creating an East/West bridge. For Cakmakli, Turkish essence has been lost because the westernization programs and the westernized popular cinema brought about a different form of life and a cultural rupture. In other words, this problem of essence is attached to the originary mythos of the nation-state: it is a problem of origin. In this respect, all of the films dealt with here (and a handful of other Islamic films) propose an alternative national essence that is opposed to the republican one, vying with each other by utilizing youth as the tabula rasa of nation building. Republican projects firmly established the importance of a nationalist education by introducing two national holidays assigned specifically to children and youth; the Islamic films of Yejilgam also work on this supposedly empty and contested terrain through popular films that deal with the enlightenment of young people who end up choosing the proper path of tradition and Islam out of their dichotomous personal experiences. In other words, the priorities set by the republican regime in relation to the education of youth toward nation building is, in structure, reproduced by these popular films.

Memleketim was not alone in constructing a filmic critique of the westernization project. Birlegen Yollar (Merging Paths, 1970), Genglik Koprusu (The Bridge of Youth, 1975), and Yalniz Degilsiniz (You Are Not Alone! 1990) provide similar examples of this trend. While the first three films come from the golden age of Yejilgam, the fourth is from the end of this style of filmmaking.2 While I will take these films as indicative of sociopolitical and cultural changes in the 1970s and 1980s, I should also note that the number of Islamic films made in Turkish popular cinema is limited. Yejilgam relied on genres such as melodrama, comedy, and action, and it also produced various remakes of Western films, as well as sex comedies, in the second half of the 1970s. The first three films discussed here (all from the 1970s) did relatively well at the box office in comparison to the melodramas and comedies of the period. The fourth film, Yalniz Degilsiniz, was a relative box office hit in a period when popular filmmaking in Turkey was in severe difficulties and a lot of film theaters had closed.3

Consider that Birlegen Yollar came out in 1970, when Yegilgam cinema peaked in terms of production (around 300 films a year), and that Memleke-tim and Genglik Koprusu came out in the mid-1970s, a time when both political extremism in Turkey and sex comedies in Yegilgam were on the rise. In the 1980s, Turkish films were mainly produced for the video market in Turkey and in European countries, where Turkish immigrant workers created a high demand that in the 1990s would be met by Turkish satellite television stations. The success of a few Islamic films in the late 1980s and the early 1990s is important in that, with a couple of other films, they brought about a fresh approach to filmmaking; they also reflected change in terms of political Islam. The 1980s marked the start of the integration of Turkey into global capitalist markets and a relative process of democratization. At the same time, migration from rural to urban areas started to affect Turkey's urban culture, putting republican cultural projects centered in big cities into a serious crisis. Far from a radical Islamism, this mainstream movement consisted of a democratic response to religiosity which the militant secularism of republican reform had consistently rejected. Within this context, Yalniz Degilsiniz deals with the problem of the headscarf in the public sphere, an issue that emerged in the mid-1970s and became a significant political issue more than a decade later. Turkish laicism, much like its French counterpart, does not allow the headscarf in schools and governmental institutions. This film deals with the struggle of female students who choose to express their faith by wearing headscarves.

All these films feature a series of binary oppositions: traditional/modern (traditional medicine versus modern medicine); Islam/laicism (religious nationalism versus ethnic or leftist nationalism, and religious education versus the republican education system); East/West (Ottoman and Islamic versus Western musical genres; traditional or religious locales versus nightclubs and bars); rural/urban (apartment/townhouse or shantytown); Islamic enlightenment versus decadence (religious books, mosques and praying versus partying, gambling and drinking); low class/high class;4 and male/female. The first element of these oppositions is favored, whereas the second elements are represented negatively through a melodramatic opposition between good and evil. While Cakmakli's Memleketim breaks away from the melodramatic resolution of the heterosexual pairing, his Birlegen Yollar revolves along the lines of melodrama, much like the novel it is based on. The endings of Genglik Koprusu and Yalniz Degilsiniz present obvious messages directed toward the spectators even though the films themselves develop along the lines of Yegilgam melodramas. The laying out of the above oppositions in the Islamic films of the era is not very different from the film lan-

The poster for Yalniz Degilsiniz (1990) focuses on the film's consideration of the sensitive issue of the headscarf for young Turkish women.

guage of Yegilgam, despite the relative politicization of issues beyond melodramatic narration.

While this point might be read as a particular reflection of a mode of filmmaking which entered into so-called alternative filmic practices, the lines defining gender and youth relations are remarkable in the Islamic films of Yegilgam. While most of these films are about young people trying to figure their way out of existential crises, the ''true path'' they espouse is surprisingly unclear. All of these films involve a heterosexual relationship building up between the protagonists through a series of binary oppositions that separate them. Many of the obstacles before the resolution deal with issues simi lar to Yegilgam melodramas: good characters are flawless while evil characters, such as decadent parents, try to prevent the marital relationship and the Islamic enlightenment of their children. Above all, what is interesting in these films is the gender of the character who goes through a process of enlightenment: all of those who are enlightened are young women. This might be read in relation to a patriarchal culture: almost all of the republican reformers and Yegilgam filmmakers were male, including all of the Islamic filmmakers. Then, it might be argued that the gender of the filmmakers led them to further define the terrain of cleanness through young females instead of young males. What seems more important is related to the politics of dress codes. In terms of male clothes, the Western-style suits are generally accepted by the Islamists, too. However, given the politically symbolic status of the headscarf, and curiously not of the full body veil, which is uncommon in Turkey, and against the relative laicism of the republican regime, it is easier to reflect on an Islamic political theme through the sign of the headscarf.

Dress reform has always been an arena characterized by sharp gender differences. While the westernization of dress for men required them to replace fezes and turbans with hats, and baggy trousers with European suits, this sartorial shift did not go against religious stipulations. In contrast, the elimination of the veil from the public sphere directly opposed Islamic traditions of the physical seclusion of women in the public sphere. Although today some forms of male dress, such as a collarless shirt worn without a tie or a particular type of beard, may represent Islamist politics, their relatively subtle inflection makes their restriction difficult.5 Thus the politics of Islamist dress codes come to be enacted through women, for they are openly affected by the stipulations of the republican reforms, and their choice to wear a headscarf is understood as a blatant disregard for enforced secularism. As a result, Islamist men can attend school, while women are stopped at the doors of public buildings, including schools, for wearing a headscarf. Ironically, the forced secular feminism of westernization has thus created an oppositional Islamist feminism among women fighting for their right to religious expression. While men can thus function in a ''dual reality'' of the public and private sphere, women come to submit doubly, first to a religious patriarchal order of their own choice, and second to a state order which refuses their right to education by banning wearing headscarves in schools, thereby relegating them to more poorly paying employment. They are doubly silenced, first by the regime and second by the traditional tensions of their lifestyle.

Although Islamic films attempt to problematize these issues, their success is questionable in terms of both method and content. Often regarded as propaganda, and quite influential among their audiences, these films nonetheless rely on the mainstream melodramatic tactics of Yejilçam as well as on promotion of social engineering akin to that of the republican state. They reproduce the dialectical formations of the stresses between indigenous culture and westernization. In this regard, the working of the Islamic alternative, sharing the structure of republican projects, opts for an "essence" set by the male filmmakers. Because of this repetition of republican cultural tactics and mainstream filmic discourse, Islamic films have not produced alternative texts that might go beyond formal ideological constructs—instead, as will be seen below, they are the products of a male-dominated popular filmmaking industry filled with patriarchal prescriptions.

Birlegen Yollar is based on §ule Yuksel §enler's best-selling novel Huzur Sokagi [The Street of Inner Harmony], which has some loose autobiographical elements about the writer's own Islamic enlightenment. The film's graphics (on the cover of the DVD through which it circulates today) underline the conflict between the two separate worldviews of its young protagonists. The film starts with Bilal (Izzet Gunay) studying for his graduation exams in an old lower-middle-class Istanbul neighborhood marked by town-houses from the nineteenth century. Life in the neighborhood is pictured as happy, much like the idyllic south of D. W. Griffith. But the entry of modern apartments brings in upper-class residents, threatening the inner harmony of the neighborhood. Is this the threat of modernization and westernization, or is this a threat brought in by the new upper-class residents? Indeed, even though the filmmakers see it as only based on the degeneration of a cultural essence, it is the threat of modernization, which is all about breaks and divides in relation to tradition as a whole, with its sociocultural and economic makeup.

The traditional Istanbul neighborhood is also threatened by a rich girl, Feyza (Turkan §oray), who is a resident in the new apartment building. Not surprisingly, as in many social issue films or even melodramas of the era, class distinctions are emphasized by showing two breakfast tables: one is resplendent with the excesses of a continental breakfast, and the other is as basic and simple as possible. And, as in the romance depicted in Memleke-tim, Feyza's friends start partying, an activity characterized by thick smoke, heavy drinking, and dancing to Western pop and rock songs. As indicated above, this is the generic theme of popular melodramas that constructs the insurmountable obstacles between the two main characters through a number of binary oppositions: high/low class, urban/rural, and so on. Crosscut-ting and the portrayal of the rural, low-class character in the mise-en-scène of a party are keys to depicting this opposition. If the promise of melodra-

matic text is the achievement of heterosexual romance through a deal between the economic might of the upper class and the authentic culture of the lower class, Islamic films have a general tendency to depict upper-class characters as being in search of something beyond their decadent life. In other words, they enact the Pygmalion story, common in popular melodramas, in reverse.

In such a search, Feyza makes a bet about one of her friends, a classmate of Bilal, that she will make him come to her birthday party and dance at the party. Romance is laid out in romantic comedy fashion; movement toward the climax of play—the birthday party scene—is slowly constructed through the cultural clash between Bilal and Feyza. Yet the contrast is offset by Feyza's interest in Ottoman court music and her love for her grandmother, who wears the headscarf and prays continuously. So Feyza's self is divided between an upper-class, westernized look (makeup, perfume, music, dancing) and a traditional, lower-class one (simplicity, her grandmother's traditional attire). Feyza's divided self is thus the battleground, and eventually her playful side gives way to her other self, which is enlightened by Islam. This is a slow process, in which Feyza first covers her head with a hat and then with a headscarf, and then she begins to wear properly modest clothing. However, the birthday party changes everything: first Bilal proposes marriage and Feyza accepts, but then Feyza's friends tell Bilal about the plot. As Bilal leaves, despite Feyza's deep apologies, the melodrama heightens. Feyza marries a rich businessman who turns out to be a gambler and a criminal; Bilal marries a lower-class woman. Feyza later gets a divorce and devotes herself to religion and to her daughter, while Bilal's happy life comes to an end with the death of his wife, who leaves him alone with his son. Years after Feyza's enlightenment and her pursuit of a simple life, which she creates without any support from her family, her daughter coincidentally meets Bilal's son, who has become a doctor and treats Feyza. Before her death, Feyza sees her daughter married to Bilal's son, and thus the rift between Feyza and Bilal is healed. The melodramatic narrative of this film comes in part from the novel, partly from the director's long history as an assistant director in Yegilgam, and also from the scriptwriter, Bulent Oran, who wrote several hundred popular film scripts.

It is not surprising that the filmmakers who produced Genglik Koprusu claimed that they had eschewed the trappings of popular cinema in order to make a genuine Islamic film. Their critical attitude toward popular cinema also involved an attempt to revolutionize the filmic environment in Turkey, echoing the discourse of leftist filmmakers and critics. The film was directed by Salih Diriklik, but it was written and made possible by a wider group of filmmakers to which the director also belonged: the Akin (Raid) group, some of whose figures, like Abdurrahman Dilipak and Ahmet Ulueren, later became columnists for daily newspapers. Another member, Mesut Ugakan, made numerous films, including Yalniz Degilsiniz.

According to the cover of the Yalniz Degilsiniz DVD, the film tells how a young girl is stigmatized by leftists for writing an essay with a conservative Islamic perspective in the period preceding the 1980 military intervention, when political extremism was at its height. The message and political stance of the film seems clear from the outset, leaning toward Islamic conservatism set against republican ideology. With the mention of leftists on the cover of the DVD, the issue becomes even more complicated as the Islamists attempt to conflate the socialist left with republican reformers. Also central to the film is the development of romance between members of different classes— in this case, two couples. Again, a lavish, upper-class life is contrasted with a lower-class life through the depiction of romantic relationships. The film opens in front of the gate of Istanbul University, showing an enormous triumphal arch that ties Ottoman westernization in education with Western architectural forms, and repeating the Yegilgam convention of identifying university students by locating them on campus. Beyond the two initially introduced romantic relationships, the film centers on an essay written by Emine (Birtane Gungor), who covers her head except at school, where the headscarf is forbidden.

The tension develops via the contrast between two different contests: a pop music contest which Mine (Necla Nazir) will attend and an essay contest which Emine will attend. The pop music contest, organized by a daily titled Zilliyet,6 represents decadent westernization, while the essay contest (''Our Youth and National Goals''), organized by the Islamist MTTB (the Association of National Turkish Students), represents the true path (the Akin group was linked to the MTTB). Similarly, the names of the two high school students contrast West and East: Mine is a comparably modern name while Emine is the name of Mohammed's mother. Moreover, like other Islamic films, the film uses Ottoman music in the sound track, counterposed with westernized pop music performed by Mine. So, as Mine starts singing a cover of a famous pop song of the 1970s, Emine starts reading her essay: ''The Turkish youth is in a big crisis and depression. This is not a physical or psychological crisis; it is a result of the absence of a moral and spiritual education. This education requires that they be freed from the complexes of westernization and directed to our own sources.'' The film thus articulates the central issue as a problem of lost essence, and as the contest between true origin and bastardized westernization. Both of the contestants become winners, but not surprisingly, their respective successes lead them to starkly different ends. Mine's zilli [immoral] path is supported by her republican teachers, but it leads her into the depraved world of nightclubs; Emine's true path is stigmatized by her republican teachers because of her participation in a contest organized by an Islamist association.

This theme of opposite cultures and lifestyles is reinforced by several secondary themes. The history teacher claims that Cyprus belongs to the Turks, and he opposes Turkish culture to Western culture, which is based on Greek and Roman cultures. The literature teacher, by contrast, identifies the founders of world civilizations as Sophocles,7 Plato, and Aristotle. But against this westernized teacher, a student claims that the ancient Greeks were barbarians, and another says: ''We saw what kind of a civilization they have in the Cyprus issue.'' Further, the students react unenthusiastically to the comedian-like teacher's explanations about the ancient Greeks who produced the earliest texts on humanism and historical materialism.

Like Birlegen Yollar, Genglik Koprusu depicts the murder of an Islamist student, a friend of Emine and Mahmut (Salih Kirmizi), by a group of leftist students that includes Mine's boyfriend and Mahmut's nephew Abdullah (Ilhan Kasap). Following Abdullah's arrest, Mahmut, who has lost his friend and whose nephew has been arrested, starts to run aimlessly through the streets of Istanbul as he searches for some sort of divine order that can stop the political murders among his peers. The film closes with his words: ''I am searching for an order, one that is in all respects part of me!''

The early 1970s melodramas gave way to the politically extremist years of the late 1970s, and the 1980 military intervention led to an authoritarian regime in the early 1980s, bringing with it significantly unequal distribution of capital in the late 1980s. With these developments, popular Turkish cinema went into sharp decline, with drastically fewer films and theaters. In this period, a few films, including some Islamic ones, briefly served as reminders of the glory days of popular cinema. One of these films was Gakmakli's Minyeli Abdullah (1989), which created some euphoria before Mesut Ugakan's Yalniz Degilsiniz. The message of Yalniz Degilsiniz is evident from its alternative titles: Serpil'in Huzunlu Hikayesi [The Sad Story of Serpil] and Bagortusu Drami [The Headscarf Drama]. The film was advertised with the following phrase: ''She had only one wish in life, to live according to her faith.'' Yalniz Degilsiniz relates the story of a young girl who finds herself in an identity crisis which leads her to a ''return to the Origin.'' While Genglik Koprusu seems to introduce the headscarf problem through an isolated instance, Yalniz Degilsiniz reminds us that the sad story of Ser-pil is shared by many Muslim students. This politicization of the headscarf as a symbol has become a hotly debated subject since the 1980s. Moreover, the distinction between Muslim students and others has been emphasized particularly by assigning the non-Muslim characteristics to other Turks. But this othering is indeed a reversal of the republican regime's othering of all threats to the unity and integrity of the regime, such as Islamists, leftists, and Kurdish nationalists.

Yalniz Degilsiniz repeats the general frame of binaries that are integral to other Islamic films and also Yejilçam melodramas. During the opening credits, the concrete streets of an apartment block complex are torn into pieces by a growing sapling, and then the film starts with Serpil riding her bike in a similar apartment complex in Istanbul. This modern Istanbul is full of the vices of global capitalist society: ads for La Femme women's stockings and a Turkish beer, the storefronts of Wendy's hamburgers and Mudurnu Fried Chicken, a Turkish version of KFC. Passing through such vices, Serpil decides to buy dates from an old street vendor for breaking the fast in the evening. As she returns back to her upper-class apartment complex, she goes to the room of her sick grandmother (Nevin Aypar). Her grandmother is treated by traditional herbal drugs, and Serpil, who is a medical student, criticizes her for not trusting in modern medicine.

As in other films, Serpil's father (Murat Soydan) has a mistress, and her mother, Seval (Nilufer Aydan), loves gambling. As her anatomy class leads her into deep thoughts about death, her friends keep partying, drinking, and doing drugs. But she also has a couple of religious friends: Salih (Efkan Efekan) and his headscarfed fiancée, Gulgen (Nur Incegul), who tell her about death as a reunion with the divine beyond the materialism of this world. Ser-pil's conversations with them also expose her to Gulgen's dilemma about the headscarf, which is forbidden in the school. Eventually, Serpil buys some Islamic books, despite the disapproval of her parents, who go to the parties of westernized Turkish elites and talk about the advantages of good relations with the U.S. and the E.U. In the meantime, Serpil's grandmother passes away while praying, and this leads Serpil to think more about death. Then she tries one of her grandmother's headscarves. In an existential crisis, she decides to learn more about herbal drugs. This leads her to a medical doctor, Murtaza (Haluk Kurdoglu), who happens to be the uncle of Salih. She learns from Murtaza that, beyond the realm of modern, synthetic drugs, there is a metaphysical connection between sickness and treatment.

Opposed to Serpil's first steps toward Islamic enlightenment, her parents ask Serpil's cousin Fusun (Funda Birtek) to warn her about the dangerous path she is headed toward. Fusun, a ''nonbeliever,'' is about to start a feminist association called Free Woman and asks Serpil to work with her. But

Serpil is in a state of deep thought about herself and existence; she keeps seeing her grandmother in her dreams. Eventually, her search leads her to the existence of Allah and she starts praying and covering herself with a headscarf, as well as with loose-fitting clothes. Her mother decides that she has lost her mind and thus needs professional help. After her parents put Serpil in a new private clinic, she becomes the advertising image for the clinic in a newspaper: ''Victim of religious reactionaries, Serpil went mad.'' The last moments of the film repeat the opening sequence: a girl on a bike rides in the streets before stopping in front of a street vendor to buy dates. But this time, the girl is different—hence the name of the film: You Are Not Alone!

Nonetheless, the young girls of Islamic films are all alone in their struggle to wear the headscarf in schools. They do not even get much support from young Islamist men, who do not have to contend with prohibitions against their attire. Neither do the girls get support from their Muslim friends, and their westernized parents are against them. A central family figure in these films is the grandmother, who is very influential. The figure of grandmother stands for traditional Turkish life and for the Ottoman culture as valued by Islamic films. The grandmother represents the rupture created by the republican reforms, which replaced the Ottoman definition of identity based on Islam with a national identity. The great divide created by the modern nation-state in a path toward westernization produced the corrupt upper-class parents of these young girls; their grandmothers were less influenced by the republican reforms, for they were born before the founding of the Republic of Turkey. But the strong influence of the grandmother serves as a restoration of the missing link, reclaiming the true origin and essence based on an Islamic identity. Both the headscarf that their grandmothers wore and the lifestyle that they had were part of a supposedly ''original'' state of tradition that cannot be retrieved except in the form of nostalgia. It is because of this divide that the headscarf has become a political symbol for the Islamist films of the post-1980 period.

Despite historical changes and despite the differences between filmmakers, these later films still repeated storylines of the earlier films by Yu-cel £akmakh. Mesut Ugakan, who was involved in Genglik Koprusu and who directed Yalniz Degilsiniz, claims that his films are distinctly different from Yegilgam films and the films of £akmakli. For him, £akmakli ''seems to be referring to national values, especially to Islam, with a fantastic good will, and this is mostly confined to show a mosque or to call for praying.'' But for Ugakan, Islam should be represented ''as an active way of life and a deep system of thought'' (166). Moreover, he claims that his films are not pure Islamic films which you can make only in a regime where Islam infuses everyday life. Instead, he says that his films involve ''the necessary and conscious compromises of a transition cinema'' (in Tosun, 36). Yet another definition of post-1980 Islamic films comes from Abdurrahman §en, who characterizes them as ''white cinema,'' which is ''respectful to religion, language, traditions and conventions of our nation and which preserves and disseminates them'' (162). In the early 1990s, at a time when Yegilgam was generally thought to be dead, white cinema was proposed as a solution to the demise of Turkish cinema in general, but it did not turn out to be as successful as it was intended to be.

Nevertheless, all four films studied here, whether national, transitional, or white cinema, share a commonality in terms of their filmic language and narratives. Despite their attempts to be different from popular Turkish cinema, they are basically melodramas. The two later films may differ from the earlier films by £akmakli, but Islamic films in Turkey made from the early 1970s to the early 1990s that deal with the enlightenment of young people all share the same opposition to modernization and westernization, including laicism. They do not offer an alternative to republican reforms so much as a general resistance to them. At the same time, these films seem to inadvertently reproduce the very conditions they seek to resist: they are the projections of predominantly male filmmakers or intellectuals that aim at exerting the proper sociocultural and political programs over the masses, and in this specific case, over young women, who are seen as the blank sheets of yet-to-be inscribed projects.

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