A Guide to the Turkey and it’s people: The story of Ataturk

Maybe your travelling to Turkey are interested to learn before you experience, maybe you merely feel ignorant and want to learn more. I thought I would write a few blog posts on Turkey since I noticed how little people try to know about its people.

On so many occasions people care very little on their summer holiday to turkey to think about who turkish are and how they are, merely seeing it as a weeks pissup and beach holiday. In many instances I am found dumbfounded by people ignorance about their political, social and religious views. I think learning about Turkey is necessary to truely experience and understand it, and not knowing the facts in these blog posts effects your perception of their culture.

So today’s blog is on the main man of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal (aka. Ataturk) and the importance of him to understanding modern day Turkey,

You told me this was a lesson on Turkish culture, why do I need to know Ataturk?

Ataturk permeates every part of Turkish culture. He is the ideology they live by, seen as second, or may be even first, to their Islamic faith. In some ways the following of Ataturk’s teachings, the continuous adoption of Ataturk’s laws and concepts are a faith in their own right. The followers are Kemalist (derived from his true name Mustafa Kemal), and few oppose the ideology.

To understand Ataturk is to understand to Turkey and the minds of the Turkish people. To understand their political turmoil’s, their social practices, their religious connections to Islam and modernist Westernisation all at the same time.

Who is he?

Ataturk (1881- 1938 is the nickname given to Mustafa Kemal, army officer, revolutionary statesmen, writer and president of Turkey. He was the founder of the Republic of Turkey and his surname, Atatürk (meaning “Father of the Turks”), was granted to him (and forbidden to any other person) in 1934 by the Turkish parliament.

Atatürk was a military officer during World War, and later led the Turkish national movement in the Turkish War of Independence.

What is the Turkish War of Independence?

The war of the Turkish against the Ottoman Empire. Turkish to be divided from the Ottoman Empire, so that it was not partitioned into individual countries. The defeat of the Ottoman government meant that Turkey (Anatolia) became and independent nation.

Anatolia (Old Turkey) before the Republic

Now Turkey encompasses the whole territory

Ataturk was a revolutionist and on the conquer of the republic, became president and swiftly worked towards creating massive reforms to traditional Ottoman Islamic rule.

What did he do to make modern day Turkey?

Atatürk embarked upon a program of political, economic, and cultural reforms, seeking to transform the former Ottoman Empire into a modern, secular and European nation-state.

In summary

  1. He Changed Education:

  • Schools were built
  • Primary education was made free and compulsory
  • Women could be educated
  • Removal of religious articles in education

2. He made Religious Changes:

  • He abolished caliphate (an Islamic state led by a supreme religion)
  • replaced the old Muslim calender with the Gregorian calendar
  • Disconnected government and religion
  • Abolished religious clothing. Profession, rank, sex and religion were understood by clothing such as Fez, Headscarf and Turbans. These were removed from state. They are not allowed in Turkish universities and schools and other public professions. (though in recent times this has been amended)
  • Encouraged teachers, doctors, lawyers. Discouraged Ulema’s (Islamic practitioners) to remove them from politics.

3. Made changes to rights

  • marriage was considered civil and not religious and polygamy was abolished
  • Women’s right to vote and hold public office
  • Freedom of thought
  • the burden of taxation on peasants was reduced.

4. Made changes to language

The Turkish alphabet was Arabic for thousands of years, but was not adequate script for expressing the Turkish language. He was not the first to consider changing the alphabet, but was the first to implement it. Turkey now uses roman alphabet like westernised countries, other than a few extra vowels.

Old Arabic Script (The old turkish script)

Modern Turkish Script

Why is it relevant to understanding the Turkish faith?

Because Turkish people are muslim, and kemalist. To understand both these concepts is to understand the answer to the questions:

Why don’t all Turkish women wear headscarves?

 I though turkey spoke and wrote in arabic? huh?

Why is it that some turkish don’t pray 5 times a day or commit to ramadan?

But I will go into some of that a bit later in more detail, don’t you worry.


2 thoughts on “A Guide to the Turkey and it’s people: The story of Ataturk

  1. Pingback: A Guide to the Turkey and it’s people: The story of Ataturk | Home Far Away From Home

  2. Pingback: Shunned. | Muffin Top

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