The Ottoman fez, a Christian touch
Contrary to popular belief, the fez is neither Ottoman nor Muslim! The funny fact is that it actually comes from Ancient Greece and was worn by the Byzantines, that is to say during the Byzantine Empire, before the Ottoman Empire. However, the Ottomans continued the tradition and under the reign of Sultan Mahmoud II (1808 – 1839), the fez reappeared in the Ottoman court as well as among the people. The Ottoman fez is in the form of a red rigid felt male hat with a conical shape and a black tassel attached to the top.
The Ottoman fez comes from ancient Greece, it was worn by the Byzantines in the Middle Ages, then by the Ottomans in the time of Sultan Mahmoud II (1808 – 1839) when European fashion entered the Ottoman court. Very quickly, the people followed. However, headgear was not used because it does not conform to Islam. Indeed, men must touch the ground with the forehead during prayer. The fez market was dominated by the English in the 19th century. It was they who influenced Mahmut II Sultan to wear this headgear symbolizing English imperialism.
However, many demonstrations broke out in 1908 in an attempt to fight against British imperialism. People wearing the fez were stigmatized, the fez crushed to the ground, in revolt against the English invasion. Part of the people not wishing to wear the fez, which was a non-Muslim headdress, the Sultan had to issue a royal decree to indicate that the fez would be, with a modified form, an essential part of the Ottoman costume.
As a result, the empire forced its subjects to wear the fez, whatever their religion, except scholars and religious who continued to wear the turban. The fez was then adopted by the North Africans (and it is still worn today by some). However, no one wears it in Turkey anymore. The anecdote of the fez shows us that this was a Christian fashion and not a Muslim fashion as one would think.