Mustafa Kemal Ataturk founder of the Turkish Republic

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk is the name of the founder of the Turkish Republic. Ataturk means "father of the Turks". Mustafa is his first name and Kemal is the name his teacher gave to him because he was very good with mathematics and it means excellence in Turkish.

Ataturk was born in Selanik (today's Greek city of Tessaloniki) in 1881 and at that time the city was part of Ottoman Macedonia. Ataturk is a national hero. You can find his pictures, his speeches, his monuments and busts everywhere in Turkey. Ataturk was a man with great intelligence and a perfect commander.

He has worked all his life to transform a ruined land to a modern republic. He succeeded in such a way that led other nations from middle east and Africa to take him and his actions as a model.

He was married but later on he divorced. He had five adopted daughters.

Ataturk accomplished many reforms in Turkey. Some of his most important reforms are:

  • Change of alphabet from Arabic to Latin letters
  • Foundation of a secular state (meaning religion and state were separated)
  • Introduction of a new civil code (which is a copy of the Swiss civil code)
  • Introduction of monogamy
  • Introduction of the gregorian calendar (the Arabic calendar was used before it)
  • Women were given the right to elect and be elected even before many developed countries
  • Dress code (Fez is forbidden)
  • Sunday was introduced as a holiday day
  • Introduction of family surnames (before that persons would have just a single name)

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk attended a military academy and a war college. He became a military officer of Ottoman Empire. At the first World War, he was a bright lieutenant colonel of infantry. One of his first personal achievements was the victory against British troops to defend Gallipoli and protecting Istanbul from the British conquest. With his full strategic and tactical genius, he became a Turkish folk hero by defeating the British army which included the Anzacs from Australia and New Zealand. He was raised to the rank of general "Pasha". Ottoman Empire saw him as a dangerous element because of his potentials. Soon he would start his revolution campaign.

Turkish flag

He moved to Anatolia and started revolutionary meetings in several locations, motivating people to defend the country against French, Italian and Greek armies. At the same time he started the movement for establishment of democratic institutions. With very limited resources and at great risks, he change the land towards a better future. His aim was to transform the ruins of Ottoman Empire in a new republic. The war of Independence ended at 1922 with Turkish victory against European armies.

Sultanate was abolished, and the Turkish Republic was established in October 29, 1923. Ataturk was the first president. He died on November 10, 1938 at Dolmabahce Palace.

 

Date: July 12th, 2001
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