Time to Meet the Man: Ataturk
July 25, 2009 – Back in Ankara, Turkey
It was inevitable.
You can’t come to Turkey and not meet up with him: Ataturk. I had a hot date with a dead dude. (Come to think of it, this isn’t the first time. I’ve had my fair share of dates with non-responsive types.)
Now, today’s VIQ (very important question):
Who was Ataturk?
- • The founding father of the modern Turkish Republic.
- • A war general and hero.
- • Architect of Turkey’s secular state.
- • A father (of 7 adopted daughters and 1 adopted son).
- • A pretty dashing fellow (as he appears in his photos).
Ataturk is basically George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson all rolled into one. People take Ataturk seriously around here, as evidenced by his omnipresent portrait.
While visiting his mausoleum and museum, what I found most interesting was how he shaped the Turkish secular state. Actually, “shaped” is a bit soft; “mandated” might be more like it.
Ataturk instituted his very own cultural revolution:
- • Creating a new Latin-version
- • Instituting women’s rights
(of inheritance, voting, and equal
access to education – my hero!)
- • Abolishing religious madrasas in favor of a secular state education system
- • Compelling Western dress styles for men. (Women followed suit on their own accord. Although it did strike me that many of the women in the museum were wearing head scarves.)
Ataturk led Turkey’s War of Independence (after the division of the Ottoman Empire after WWI), wrestling back the Ottoman lands that were subdivided by the winning coalition of Great Britain, France, Italy, America, etc. to form today’s Republic of Turkey.
One man achieved all this. No wonder this nation of 70 million reveres him.
His victories on the battlefield and off were hard won. The Turkish people’s devotion to Ataturk is well deserved.
This entry was posted on Saturday, July 25th, 2009 and is filed under Europe.