Freemasonry’s political and diplomatic entanglements in the last phase of Ottoman history: the peculiar case of the Committee of Union and Progress
Middle Eastern Studies
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Freemasonic activity in the Ottoman lands saw an unprecedented growth and dynamism in the final phase of Ottoman history particularly benefitting from its close association with the Young Turk movement and its political apparatus, the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP). Ottoman freemasonry was led to a new level of popularity with a great deal of public visibility, a consequence of which was the formation of the Ottoman Grand Orient as a national organization for the first time in the Ottoman lands. Despite the ensuing controversial accusations and conspiracy theories against the freemasonic institution which became commonplace during the period in question, it occupied a place within the Ottoman state and society which it had never attained before. This made it possible for the Ottoman freemasons to integrate themselves to the universal fraternal discourse of the freemasonic philosophy during a last attempt of the Ottoman administration to keep its remaining lands intact. The intention of this article is to create a window within the broader picture of the socio-political environment of the time with a view to the position and involvement of freemasonry in which its association with the CUP often stands out as a major factor.