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Eli Lee @elilee_
, 18 tweets, 7 min read Read on Twitter
Okay, here's a THREAD, because people have been asking me for one, about Jamal Khashoggi's little-known Turkish ancestry, Arabized Turkish surnames, and the overlooked interconnectedness of the Ottoman world.
If you read Turkish media, you may have noticed over the past week that the name of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was allegedly murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul this month, is typically rendered in a Turkified form: "Cemal Kaşıkçı."
As @jdryan08 has noted, this spelling doesn't make much sense if you're following an Arabic-to-Turkish transliteration scheme - "خاشقجي" would be much better rendered as "Hasokçı" or "Hasıkçı," neither of which are Turkish surnames like "Kaşıkçı."
Well, as it turns out, the Turkish press uses this Turkish version of his name because… the name was, in fact, originally Turkish!

Let me explain.
First off, Khashoggi is/was a member of the well-connected Khashoggi family of Saudi Arabia, to which famous arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi also belonged.
(Adnan Khashoggi, for his part, was a multibillionaire who served as a key middleman in the Iran-Contra affair, and who once owned a luxury yacht that eventually came into the possession of none other than Donald Trump. But that's another story.)
Adnan's father was Mohamed Khashoggi, Ibn Saud's court doctor. His family reportedly arrived in Mecca around the time of its Ottoman conquest and was of Turkish origin - with the name "Khashoggi," pronounced "Khashog-ji," deriving from Turkish "Kaşıkçı," or "spoon maker."
(According to the municipal encyclopedia of Kayseri, in central Turkey, the Kaşıkçı family is still well-known there, with one of its members having been elected to parliament in the 80s. Per recent local reporting, the family has also produced several of the city's muezzins.)
So "Kaşıkçı" became "Khashoggi" as the family assimilated into its Arab milieu, later reverting back to "Kaşıkçı" in Turkish media. Weird! But here's the thing: This isn't unusual at all! Lots of Arab surnames have masked Turkish origins that the Turkish press has picked up on.
Shukri al-Quwatli, the first president of independent Syria, was of Turkish descent, and his name is clearly derived from Turkish "Kuvvetli." Here's Cumhuriyet referring to him by that name (with a bonus transliteration of “Shukri” into “Şükrü”) in 1954.
Journalist and Nobel laureate Tawakkol Karman hails from a part of Yemen that was in Ottoman hands for centuries. In 2012, she claimed "Ottoman ancestry," via the Turkish province of Karaman, and was granted Turkish citizenship. Here's Yeni Şafak calling her "Tevekkül Karaman."
The surname of Fawzi al-Qawuqji, a leading early Arab nationalist, comes from Turkish "Kavukçu" - here's Cumhuriyet calling him "Fevzi Kavukçu" in 1948.

These people all had Turkish heritage. So why and how did their names become Arabized?
Some Turks in the Arab world probably altered their names just to fit in. In other cases, it likely happened organically. Read in accordance with Ottoman orthography, for example, Arabic "Qawuqji" would likely still have been pronounced "Kavukçu" up into the early 20th century.
What can we glean from this? First, the fact that the individuals I've just listed include heroes of their respective nations - exemplary Arabs - shows the degree to which Ottoman Turks assimilated into the far-flung communities they settled in.
This, in turn, speaks to the deep interconnectedness of the Ottoman world - a connectedness forged by cultural and human exchanges that have often been washed away or forgotten. as Albert Hourani wrote in 1970, "Anyone who has travelled in the lands the Turks once ruled..."
"...must have noticed how deep the Ottoman impress went and how lasting the unity it has imposed on many different countries and peoples." This imprint has faded over time. Surnames with hidden Turkish etymologies are one of its more subtle residues.
And finally, it's clear that in referring to Jamal Khashoggi as "Cemal Kaşıkçı," the contemporary Turkish press is following decades of precedent. It may seem strange, but it's entirely in keeping with conventions dating back to the early days of modern Turkish.
If Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in his ancestors' homeland, it is a tragedy and an outrage. But by calling for justice in his (transliterated) name, the Turkish press is reflecting the legacy of a family caught between nations - from Kaşıkçı to Khashoggi and back again. (END)
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