London: Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is a British politician, writer, and former journalist, who is serving as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party since 2019.
But, a surprising revelation is that Johnson’s great grandfather, Ali Kemal was a Muslim, an Ottoman journalist, a poet and liberal politician who was killed after being kidnapped on a charge of treason as the empire entered its final days.
Who was Ali Kemal?
Ali Kemal was born is 1867 in Istanbul, the then capital of Ottoman Empire. Kemal’s father was a wealthy merchant who gave his son traditional Muslim education. Kemal traveled to France and became a successful journalist in 1903. He met Winifred Brun, an Anglo-Swiss woman and the daughter of a Margaret Johnson in Switzerland. They married in 1903 in London.
In 1908, Ali Kemal along with his family returned to Turkey and settled Bebek, a village outside Istanbul. He continued his career in Journalism. Original copies of his columns are still available in Turkey’s library.
Within few weeks of his return, there came a revolution in Turkey. Liberty radical nationalists seized power from Sultan. Kemal, in his columns, wrote against the nationalist government for which he was kidnapped then killed on a charge of treason.
The Times described Kemal to be “One of the leading men of letters in Turkey, an excellent speaker, and personally very popular”. He was unanimously adopted as the representative of the Turkish parliamentary constituency that would become Istanbul by his Liberal Union party in 1909.
“This is a great lesson about journalism and politics because there is no doubt is the first duty of columnist is to be read, to write stuff that is readable punching its polemical. That’s where the boundary between German politics becomes difficult because the imperative to be read and to be punchy and provocative can conflict with your political cause,” said Borris Johnson about his great-grandfather’s career.