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Sotirios Dimitriadis

In 1874, Midhat Paşa, then serving as governor-general in Thessaloniki, founded a vocational school (ıslahhane)in the city. The paşa had been a pioneer of vocational education in the Ottoman Empire and believed that ıslahhane schools could serve as models for his inclusivist Ottomanist policies. Soon after the ıslahhane of Thessaloniki was founded, however, official state ideology was reoriented towards consciously Islamic principles and symbols. During the reign of Sultan Abdülhamid II, the ıslahhane of Thessaloniki became associated with the local Muslim community and became the focal point for the emergence of an Ottoman Muslim civic identity in the city. After the Revolution of 1908, the Committee of Union and Progress expanded upon the policies of religious and ethnic partıcularism despite paying lip service to the legacy of Midhat; students of the ıslahhane provided the Committee with an activist base. After the Balkan Wars and the collapse of Ottoman rule in the Balkans, the school remained one of the most important links connecting the community to the empire.