Ataturk - Father of Modern Turkey and a Great Humanitarian
To Understand Turkey, You Need to Know About the Founder of Modern Turkey - Ataturk, Turkish General, Politician, Statesman, Humanitarian and Reformer
I had vaguely heard of the name Ataturk, but knew nothing else about him until I read Snow by Orhan Pamuk, a book about revolution, religious ideology and the various factions in Turkey. This raised my curiosity sufficiently to Google "Ataturk" and what I found out swept me away.
I was so impressed that I kept the information, with no particuar purpose other than my gut feeling that one day I would use it in some way as a reference to write about him. And, of course, that's what I'm doing now.
Bear in Mind That This Article is Strictly a Historic Perspective of Ataturk's Influence on Turkey
It does not touch on the Turkish genocide of the Armenian people, or the fast-moving recent political events in modern Turkey, which are very much in the news at present.
Ataturk on the State and Religion:
"Religion is an issue of conscience. Everyone is free to conform to the commands of their conscience. We show respect for religion. We are not against a way of thinking or thoughts. We are only trying not to mix religious affairs with the affairs of the nation and the state."
Three Reasons to Admire Ataturk
Called the Father of Modern Turkey
- He was an enlightened reformer believing in the separation of state from religion - he turned Turkey from the religious Ottoman Empire into a modern secular state
- He was a great humanist and introduced universal education
- He believed in equal rights for women and equal rights for all people under the law
More Quotations by Ataturk
"Mankind is a single body and each nation a part of that body. We must never say 'What does it matter to me if some part of the world is ailing?' If there is such an illness, we must concern ourselves with it as though we were having that illness."
On Ideology and Spreading the Word:
"There are two Mustafa Kemals. One the flesh-and-blood Mustafa Kemal who now stands before you and who will pass away. the other is you, all of you here who will go to the far corners of our land to spread the ideals which must be defended with your lives if necessary. I stand for the nation's dreams, and my life's work is to make them come true."
"Sovereignty belongs unconditionally to the people."
On Modernising the Legal System:
"We must liberate our concepts of justice, our laws and legal institutions from the bonds which hold a tight grip on us although they are incompatible with the needs of our century"
On Social Reform:
" the new Turkish State is a state of the people and a state by the people."
"We are a nation without classes or special privileges."
" The true owner and master of Turkey is the peasant who is the real producer."
On the Economy:
"to achieve independence we must observe the following rule: National sovereignty should be supported by financial independence."
"The government's most creative and significant duty is education."
" We shall emphasize putting our women's secondary and higher education on an equal footing with men."
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Attaturk - Timeline
Just a few major dates as an overview
source of information on this website: Wikepedia and Ataturk.com
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk - His Life
Atataturk (1881 - 1938 ) dedicated his life to his nation, Turkey. His father died when he was young. He attended a traditional religious school and later a modern school.
1893-1905 Military high school excelling at mathematics. He graduated from the War Academy in Istanbul with the rank of Staff Captain. With several colleagues, he started a clandestine society "Homeland and Freedom" to fight against the Sultan's despotism in the Ottoman Empire.
1908 Helped the group of officers who toppled the Sultan. His military career flourished.
1915 Dardanelles campaign - he became a national hero by winning successive victories and finally repelling the invaders.
1916 Promoted to General at age 35, he was instrumental in overthrowing the Ottoman Empire and the despotic Sultan's government, liberated two major provinces in eastern Turkey and in a major victory stopped the enemy advance at Aleppo.
1919 Started the War of Independence.
1920 The Grand National Assembly was inaugurated and he was elected as President. Led his forces to victory against rebels and invading armies and became Commander-in-Chief with the rank of Marshal.
1922 The Turkish armies liberated and the Turkish mainland and the rule of the Ottoman dynasty abolished.
1923 The National Government signed the Lausanne Treaty with Great Britain, France, Greece, Italy, and others. Ankara became the capital of the new Turkish State, the Turkish Republic was proclaimed and he was elected President.
1923 Married. Divorced in 1925.
Ataturk created a new political and legal system, abolished the Caliphate and made both government and education secular, gave equal rights to women, changed the alphabet and traditional attire, and advanced the arts and sciences, agriculture and industry. In 1934, when the surname law was adopted, the National Parliament gave him the name "Ataturk" (Father of the Turks).
1938 Died aged 57.
Ataturk - Founder of the Turkish Republic
Ataturk was responsible for sweeping reforms to modernise Turkey
1923 he proclaimed the Republic of Turkey, dedicated to the sovereignty of the national will, ending the dynasty and theocratic Ottoman system, with its Sultanate and Caliphate. Its basic principles stress the republican form of government representing the power of electorate, secular administration, nationalism, mixed economy with state participation in many of the vital sectors, and modernization.
Atataturkism introduced to Turkey, the first Muslim nation to become a Republic, the process of parliamentary and participatory democracy.
1926 - 1930 - very swift and substantial legal transformation
Religious laws were abolished, and a secular system of jurisprudence introduced, with a new Civil Code, Penal Code, and Business Law, based on the Swiss, Italian and German models respectively.
All citizens - men and women, rich and poor -were given equality before the law, the foundation for a just society with equal rights.
Reform of the backward social and economic system of the Ottoman Empire
Believing that religious faith is matter of individual conscience, secular government and education played a major role in Ataturk's program of modernization and Turkey became truly secular, with freedom of worship, and religion separated from state.
A vast transformation took place in urban and rural life - women stopped wearing the veil and men the fez; all citizens took surnames; and the Western calendar replaced the Islamic calendar .
Swift and extensive language reform
In 1928, the Arabic script used by the Turks for a thousand years was replaced with the less complex Latin alphabet, enabling people to learn to read and write more easily.
In the 1920s written Turkish language was 80 percent Arabic, Persian, and French. Thousands of words, and some grammatical devices, borrowed from the Arabic and Persian, were eliminated and replaced by revived original centuries-old Turkish words. Provincial expressions and new coinages were introduced. and by the 1980s the ratio of borrowed foreign words had declined to a mere 10 percent.
Ataturk's reforms of Turkish women's rights and opportunities
Ataturk launched many reforms to give Turkish women equal rights and opportunities. The new Civil Code, adopted in 1926, abolished polygamy and recognized the equal rights of women in divorce, custody, and inheritance.
The entire educational system from school to university became co-educational.
He gave women the same opportunities as men, including full political rights. In modern Turkey there are now tens of thousands of well-educated women who are doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers, writers, administrators, executives, and creative artists.
Reform of Education
"The government's most creative and significant duty is education."
Ataturk, regarding education as the force that would galvanize the nation into social and economic development, stimulated and expanded education at all levels and for all segments of society. There was an ambitious program of schooling for children and adults, with women's education on an equal footing with men.
Education was made free, secular, and co-educational. Primary education was declared compulsory. The armed forces implemented an extensive program of literacy and Ataturk personally instructed children and adults in schoolrooms, parks, and other places.
Literacy rose from less than 9 percent in 1923 to more than 33 percent by 1938.
A dynamic program of economic development was initiated
A dynamic program of economic development was initiated to remedy the new Turkish state's lack of capital, industry, and know-how. Successive wars had decimated manpower and agricultural production, and there were huge foreign debts.
From 1923 there was agricultural expansion, industrial growth, and technological advancement. There were also improvements In mining, transportation, manufacturing, banking , exports, social services, housing, communications, energy, mechanization, and other vital areas, increasing the gross national product five-fold within ten years.
Ataturk - Genius International Peacemaker
A world order based on peace, and the dignity of all human beings
Military hero Ataturk knew the value of peace and did his utmost to secure and strengthen it throughout the world. He believed in the vital need to create a world order based on peace and the dignity of all human beings, and on the constructive interdependence of all nations, stating that "peace is the most effective way for nations to attain prosperity and happiness" and, on another occasion, "Turks are the friends of all civilized nations."
Turkey established cordial relations with all countries, did not pursue a policy of expansionism, and avoided any act that was contrary to peaceful co-existence. Ataturk signed pacts with Greece, Roumania and Yugoslavia in the Balkans, and with Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan in the East. He maintained friendly relations with the Soviet Union, the United States, England, Germany, Italy, France, and other states.
On his death in 1938, the League of Nations paid tribute to him as "a genius international peacemaker". In 1981 the United Nations and UNESCO honoured his memory as the great Turkish Statesman who abhorred war.
Quick, what do you think of Ataturk?
Links: What did Ataturk have in Mind? - The problems Ataturk sought to resolve haven't gone away
The veil and religion versus secularism are still up for discussion in modern-day Turkey
- the economist
AS OTHER countries move to ban Muslim head coverings, Turkey is going the opposite way. Women have been free to wear headscarves at state universities since 2011, and in parliament since 2013. Last August policewomen were allowed to cover their heads
- Turkey coup trial: Court sentences 104 army 'plotters' To life Imprisonment |Turkey News|Al Jazeera
Former military personnel given life sentences for trying to overthrow the constitutional order, state media says.
- The Islamic veil across Europe - BBC April 2010
Countries across the continent have wrestled with the issue of the Muslim veil - in various forms such as the body-covering burka and the niqab, which covers the face apart from the eyes. The debate takes in religious freedom, female equality, secula
Consider Ataturk's Influence on World Events - a Popular YouTube Video
© 2010 Diana Grant