Turkish Secular Muslim Identity on Display in Europe

Hakki Gurkas, Kennesaw State University


Nasreddin Hodja1 is a popular folkloric figure in tales, anecdotes, and humor stories told and loved in many parts of the Middle East, Central Asia, Balkans, and North Africa. Hodja has a religious significance and he is considered to be a protective saint in Aksehir, Turkey and is venerated by local people. Furthermore, in the stories attributed to him, he appears as a minor cleric and plays merry pranks in some stories similar to the German trickster figure Till Eulenspiegel. Nineteenth-century French and German orientalists, such as Basset, Horn, and Wesselski, introduced him and his stories to Europe about a century ago (Basset 1987; Özgü ). However, Nasreddin Hodja recently gained a new visibility in Europe.