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Turkey celebrates 949th anniversary of Seljuk victory over Byzantines with historical music video Open in fullscreen

The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Turkey celebrates 949th anniversary of Seljuk victory over Byzantines with historical music video

The video portrays Turkish soldiers and leaders from throughout history [Youtube/ Screenshot]

Date of publication: 25 August, 2020

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Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Turkey - with its penchant for period pieces - has dropped a music video to celebrate the 949th anniversary of the Battle of Manzikert.

Turkey's Directorate of Communications has released a historical music video, laden with pomp and period regalia, to commemorate the 949th anniversary of the Battle of Manzikert.

The 1071 battle between the Seljuk Turks and the Byzantine Empire is lauded as having opened Anatolia - which at the time was held by the Holy Roman Emperor - to the Turks for further expansion. 

The video continues in the vein of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's invocation of Turkish history and periods of conquest, which coincides with a fresh rivalry in the eastern Mediterranean with Greece.

It portrays soldiers from the medieval ages of the Seljuk sultans, Ottoman warriors and soldiers from the Battle of Galipoli campaign in the First World War, along with members of the Turkish Republic's current military.

In one scene, a character who appears to be the Seljuk Sultan Alp Arslan - the victor of Manzikert - receives a guard of honour from his soldiers. The video then pans out to a similar scene set in the present day, showing President Erdogan.

In Turkish history, the "red apple" is often used to refer to an object of dersire and a new city or land sought for conquest.

The video also features images of the Prophet Muhammad's mosque in Medina, the Kaaba in Mecca, and most significantly, the Masjid Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem.

At the climax of the display, characters dressed as Turkish leaders, from throughout the ages, walk abreast into the Hagia Sophia mosque.

As they gather around the mosque's pulpit, President Erdogan is heard reading verses from chapter 48 of the Quran, Surah Al-Fath - 'The Victory'.

"Indeed, we have given you [Oh Muhammad], a clear conquest," the president, who has gained popularity on the internet for his Quran recitations, reads in Arabic.

Amid rising regional territorial tensions with Greece, increasing involvement in the Middle East hotspots, a domestic currency crisis, and new rivalry with the UAE, Erdogan has doubled down on his use of historical symbols to stir up patriotic fervour.

Read also: Erdogan converts another ancient former Istanbul church into mosque

On Friday, Erdogan announced the discovery of vast gas reserves in the Black Sea - an announcement he hailed would "open up a new era in Turkey."

Observers pointed out that Erdogan chose that day - 21 August - as it coincided with the date that Mustafa Kemal Ataturk shared plans with his generals for what would be the last major offensive of the Turkish War of Independence.

Supporters of the president have lauded his use of historical symbolism to reconnect Turkey with its imperial past, while his detractors have critiqued his jingoistic fascination with neo-Ottomanism.

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