Mustafa Atatürk

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (1881-1938) was the first President of Turkey and is seen as the father of modern Turkey. In his earlier years he became involved in the development of the movement for Turkish independence. He was a violent critic of the Ottoman regime, which he regarded as profoundly corrupt. Being a military, he served along with the Allies. At the end of the First World War, while Greece wanted to invade Turkey, Ataturk convinced the national assembly to fight this. He was able to defeat the Greeks and in 1922 the independence of Turkey was achieved. Since he embraced the ideals of the construction of modern Europe, he decided to break with the old Ottoman traditions, and separate the State from religion by abolishing the Caliphate. This highly diminished the power of Sunnis over the State, making politics more independent and building a secular Turkey. He allowed women to dress as they wished, built many schools and made primary education obligatory. Although the
country was effectively uni-partidist, Ataturk was very popular amongst the people. His legacy has still a great importance in Turkey, where his image is displayed in most public places. However, this legacy might be compromised by the rise of modern Islamic parties.


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