The ‘Jorisards’: Public Mobilization Between Local Emotions and Universal Rights
The imprisonment of Edward Joris in Istanbul engendered a form of mass-mobilization with strong reminiscences of—and close interconnections with—the Dreyfus affair in France. Having its roots in Joris’s hometown Antwerp, it quickly transformed into a national and even international forum by a small group of influential left wing journalists, intellectuals and politicians. While serving as a strong vehicle for the discourse of universal human rights as had been developing during former decades, this mobilization was also deeply influenced by emotional and particularistic responses. Nationalism and anti-Ottoman or Islamophobic prejudices—often verging on blatant racism—pervaded many pleas for the liberation of Joris. Apart from analyzing the actors, strategies and discourses involved in this mobilization, this chapter also situates it in the Belgian political context of the time. In so doing, it tries to understand why the Catholic government turned out to be very vulnerable to this left wing mobilization.