Turkish minority in Budapest: culture and identity

A program by Mehmet Sinan Egemen

In Turkish language

MS 4. yuzyila dayanan Turk-Macar iliskileri zaman icerisinde degisime ugradi. Osmanli Imparatorlugunun zamanin Macaristan’ini isgaliyle birlesip 150 yil sonra tekrar ayrilan toplumlarin arasindaki iletisimin yogunlugu, hem devlet hem de bireyler arasinda devamlilik gosterdi. Bu belgesel Macaristan’da yasayan Turkler azinligin bireyleriyle yasam tarzi, kultur ve kimligine isik tutmak amaciyla yapildi. Belgesel, kulturel entegrasyon, ev hissi, aile, cok dillilik, cok kulturluluk, memleket/gurbet hissiyati ve iletisim ile ilgili konusmalar icermektedir. Gorusmeler arasinda oruntu yakalamak mumkun: Gorusulen bireylerin hicbiri Macaristan’da zenofobi veya ayrimcilikla karsilasmamis, Macar kulturune kolaylikla ayak uydurmus ve aile yasantisi ile yemek kulturu arasinda benzerlikler bulmus.

Dating back to 4th century, Hungarian and Turkish relationships varied throughout time. Uniting in Ottoman era and separating 150 years later, the intimacy and intensity of the communication continued in both human interaction and state business. This documentary sheds a light to the lifestyle, culture and identity of the members of the Turkish minority who live in Hungary. It includes conversations about cultural integration, feeling of home, family, multilinguality, multiculturalism, motherland/abroad dichotomy and communication. It is possible to find patterns in their experience: None of the interviewees have ever came across to xenophobia or discrimination, they easily integrated to the culture of Hungarians and they found similarities in family life and cuisine.


Program Transcript

A documentary in Radyo Eper 97.0. Conversations about culture and identity with Turkish minority living in Budapest

According to various theories, Hungarian and Turkish historical relationships start from Central Asia. Population flows starting with the Migration of Tribes in the 4th and 5th century ended up for Hungarians to relocate themselves in Carpathian basin via north Black Sea, and for Turks to Anatolia via todays Turkistan and Iran. Those theories also utilize the two languages, Hungarian and Turkish to be in the same family of Ural Altaic languages. As well as the tribal migrations, the time of arrival to Carpathians in late 9th century and Anatolia in early 11th century endorse the legitimacy of those theories.

In 16th century, another process was initiated my Ottoman Empire by invading Hungary of the time. It probably did not come up to Suleiman the Magnificent’s mind that those upcoming 150 years would merge and mingle with the historical companion of the two communities and lead to another type of fraternity in the future. Starting with kitchens, baths, and human interaction the relationship between the two society exhibits itself clearly in the 21st century. Even today, the period accentuated as “150 years of invasion” is shaking hands in the castles, museums, restaurants and baths of Hungary. The question of how the relationships continued after Ottomans left Hungary was summarized in the last tablet of the History Museum of Eger Castle: “When the 150 years of rule in Hungary came to an end, the nature of Turkish and Hungarian relationships changed. The leaders of the defeated independence movement, who rebelled against Habsburg rule at the end of 17th century, were forced to seek refuge in Turkish porte. Following the peace of Karlowitz (1699) Prince Imre Thokoly, his wife and his supporters were all gratefully received in Turkey. Ferenc Rakoczi II. and those who supported him were also forced into hiding in Gallipoli in 1717, going on to Edirne and Yenikoy and then to Tekirdag where they spent 15 years. Following the defeat of the war in 1844-48, Lajos Kossuth first went to Turkey, settling in Kutahya in 1850-51. Of his military commanders Joseph Bem, as Pasha Murat, became the governor of Aleppo, and General Gyorgy Kmetty converted to Islamic faith becoming Pasha Ismail. During WW2, prime minister Miklos Kallay, fled to Turkish Embassy with his wife following the German occupation of Hungary on 19th of March 1944 where he was to spent 8 months. Today, Turkey and Hungary share the responsibility of looking after their shared historical monuments.”

This documentary contains three interviews that shed a light to the experience of Turkish living in Hungary who represent a micro example of those social and state level relationships started from the early ages. The conversations with Ali Ismail, Ethem and Berkin indicate information about the lives of the imigrated Turkish men who has families now in Budapest. I hope the interviews which include questions of cultural integration, feeling of home, family, multilinguality, multiculturalism, motherland/abroad dichotomy and communication to represent the lifestyle and identity of the Turkish minority to an extent.

The first interview is with Ali Ismail. 36 year-old, living in Budapest for 13 years.

After delicate conversations about politics with Ali Ismail, we finished the interview with the culture of kitchen. Fathering two children, he mastered Hungarian in very short time and started his working life in Budapest. He experienced no discrimination at all in Hungary likewise the other interviewees. He also easily catched up with the lifestyle of Hungarians.

The next interview is with Ethem. Living in Budapest for 11 years, he is 46 years old. He graduated from Ankara University Hungarology department, therefore he did not have a language barrier before coming here.

The interview is  about the Turkish artifacts, religious festivals and spices. Ethem is glad to be living in Hungary both in soul and body. We heard from him with both envy and sorrow that the feeling of absence from home is a lifestyle that comes from his very childhood.

Our last interview is with Berkin. He is 60 and has been living in Budapest for 28 years. He is married and has a daughter. The only interviewee I had who came to Hungary before the collapse of Soviet Union, set his own business up here and experienced the adaptation and transition period of the country. With Berkin, we talked about many topics starting from the small Turkish shops to famous Turkish series in Hungary, from Suleiman to Egri Csillagok.

This is a radio documentary made with members of Turkish minority who live in Budapest about Turkish-Hungarian relationships, identity, culture, kitchen and various topics. As an assessment for Radio Theory and Practice lecture at ELTE, I expect this documentary to be a useful resourceand thank to my lecturer Henrik Hargitai for his support and supervision over the study.

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