Kemal Ataturk (1881-1938) was the founder of modern Turkey and the Turkish republic. He was born in the Kocakasım ward
of Salonika, then under Turkish rule. He had the single name of "Mustafa." The name Kemal was added by his elementary
school teachers. It means perfection or maturity. The appellation "Ataturk" means "father of Turkey." Little Mustafa
Kemal was to become an extraordinary soldier and statesman.
Mustafa's parents were Ali Rıza Efendi and Zübeyde Hanım. His paternal grandfather, Hafız Ahmed Efendi was
descended from the Kocacık nomads who settled in Macedonia several hundred years earlier. His mother Zübeyde Hanım
was the daughter of an Old Turkish family who had settled in the town of Langasa near Salonika. Ali Rıza Efendi, who
worked as militia officer, title deed clerk and lumber trader, married Zübeyde Hanım in 1871. Of his five siblings, only
one sister, Makbule (Atadan) survived to adulthood, and died in1956.
Ataturk's father died in 1888. Young Mustafa stayed at the farm of his maternal uncle for a period and returned to Salonika to
complete his studies. He registered at the Salonika Mülkiye Rüştiye (secondary school) but soon transferred to
a military school.
Ataturk attended the Manastır Military School between 1896 - 1899 and later the Military School in İstanbul, He
graduated in 1902 with the rank of lieutenant. He entered the Military Academy and graduated on January 11, 1905
with the rank of major. Between 1905 - 1907 he was stationed in Damascus with the 5th. Army. In 1907 he was promoted to
the rank of "Kolağası" (senior major) and was posted with the III rd Army , which was stationed in Manastır.
Kemal was one of the officers who took part in the Young Turks revolution
of 1908. He eventually became disillusioned with the "Young Turks" and his relations with Enver Pasha were strained.
Thus, Mustafa Kemal was excluded from the center of power once Enver Pasha had emerged as the foremost military leader
In 1910, Atatürk participated in the Picardie army maneuvers in France, and in 1911, served at the Ministry of War (Harbiye
Nezareti) in Istanbul. Later in 1911, he was posted to the province of Trablusgarp (in present-day Libya) to fight
against the Italian invasion. After the successful defense of Tobruk on December 22, 1911, he was appointed the
commander of Derne on March 6, 1912.
Kemal Ataturk returned to Istanbul after the outbreak of the Balkan Wars in October 1912. During the First Balkan
War, Kemal fought against the Bulgarian army at Gallipoli and at Bolayır on the coast of Thrace. He played a
crucial role in the recapture of Edirne and Didymoteicho during the Second Balkan War. In 1913, he was appointed
military attaché to Sofia. By March 1914, while serving in Sofia, Kemal was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel.
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in World War I
Ataturk favored Turkish neutrality in World War I, with the possibility of eventual Turkish intervention on the side
of the allies, but he was overruled by Enver Pasha. Ataturk fought under the German "advisor" Otto Liman von Sanders,
who was in charge of the defense of the Gallipoli peninsula. This long and pitched confrontation was one of the greatest
disasters of the allied armies. Gallipoli guarded the Dardanelles, which provided an potential trade route for Russia
through the Black Sea. Russia was desperate for foreign currency that could be had by selling its wheat, but it had no
way to export it. Therefore, the opening of the Dardanelles was thought to be crucial to allied success. The British and
French lost their nerve and failed to carry through an attempt to take the Dardanelles by sea, whereupon the Turks had
time to fortify both land and sea positions before the allies could divert troops from the Western front and mount a
land expedition. Successive allied landings were repulsed with heavy losses. Each side lost about 250,000 men at
Gallipoli. The allied disaster was due to underestimation of the Turks, incompetence, failure to learn the terrain, and
poor judgment and over-caution of naval officers. It was also due to the incredible bravery of the Turks and the
leadership of Ataturk. Allied forces that had landed at Arıburnu on 25 April 1915 were stopped by 19th Division
under Mustafa Kemal at Conkbayırı. Mustafa Kemal was consequently promoted to the rank of colonel. English forces
attacked at Arıburnu once more on 6-7 August 1915. Mustafa Kemal, as the Commander of the Anafartalar Forces, repulsed
them on 6-7 August 1915. This victory was followed by the victories of Kireçtepe on August 17, and the Second
Anafartalar victory on August 21. Though the allies gave much of the credit for the victory to von Sanders, subsequent
events seemed to indicate that von Sanders was at best a mediocre general. Mustafa Kemal is said to have addressed his
soldiers with the words "I am not giving you an order to attack, I am ordering you to die!"
Mustafa Kemal was stationed at Edirne and Diyarbakır after the Gallipoli campaign and was promoted to the rank
of Lieutenant General on 1 April 1916. He fought against the Russian forces and recaptured Muş and Bitlis. Following
short assignments at Damascus and Allepo, he came to İstanbul in 1917. He traveled to Germany with Vahdettin Efendi, the
heir to the throne. He returned to Allepo on 15 August 1918 as the Commander of the 7th army. Ataturk inherited the
Turkish armies that had been under the command of Liman von Sanders after these collapsed in Palestine before the
advance of General Allenby. Turkey had signed an armistice at Mudros on October 30, 1918. Kemal Ataturk became commander
of von Sanders' Yıldırım Orduları (Thunderbolt army) one day after the armistice was signed, only to disband the army.
When this army was disbanded, he came to İstanbul on November 13, 1918 and started to work at the Ministry of War.
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk Founds the Turkish Republic
Turkey was falling apart. Mustafa Ataturk saw that the terms imposed by the allies were probably unenforceable and
unbearable for Turkey. At the same time, he understood that the Turkish disaster in the war required a drastic
rethinking of national strategy. Turkey must give up its ideas of empire and confrontation with Russia, and become a
national state in Asia minor, instead of trying to be a regional empire.
There ensued a war to drive out the occupying forces, which the Turks call their "War of Independence." Presently,
the Greeks became over-ambitious and attempted to invade Asian Turkey, occupying Izmir. The British, Italian, French and
Greek forces began to occupy Anatolia, and it looked as though they did not intend to leave much of Turkey intact. The
occupation of Istanbul along with the occupation of Izmir triggered the establishment of the Turkish national movement
and the Turkish War of Independence.
Mustafa Kemal was assigned to oversee the demobilization of the remains of the 9th army in Eastern Turkey. He
landed at Samsun, a port city on the Black Sea coast of Anatolia, on May 19, 1919. Instead of disbanding the army,
Mustafa Kemal began organizing resistance to the treaties and in effect, to the Turkish government that had signed them.
In a pamphlet published in June 1919, he declared that " The freedom of the nation shall be restored with the resolve
and determination of the nation itself" and called the meeting of the Sivas Congress. He pointed out that the Turkish
government was now under foreign control
The British were alarmed by Mustafa Kemal's revolt. They immediately pressured the Ottoman government, which issued a
warrant for the arrest of Mustafa Kemal, later condemning him to death. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk resigned from the
Ottoman Army on July 8, in Erzurum. He successfully called for a national election to establish a new Turkish Parliament
that would have its seat in Ankara. On 12 February, 1920, the last Ottoman Parliament gathered in Istanbul and
declared the Misak-ı Milli (National Pact). Parliament then was dissolved by the occupying British forces. Mustafa Kemal
established a new National Assembly in Ankara. The first session of the "Grand National Assembly of Turkey" gathered on
April 23, 1920, with Mustafa Kemal as its president. The declared goal was to "liberate the Sultan". Effectively there
were now two governments - one in Istanbul and the other in Ankara.
The Sultan signed the Treaty of Sèvres with the Allies on August 10, 1920. This put in place the detailed plans for
partitioning of Anatolian Turkey and was a hopeless capitulation. The Ankara government led by Ataturk disavowed the
treaty. The treaty and the events which followed it discredited the Sultan and his government in Istanbul, and caused a
shift of power in favor of the Turkish Grand National Assembly in Ankara.
Mustafa Kemal persuaded the assembly to give him more or less dictatorial powers. The assembly was called upon to
recognize itself as representative of the nation, and then to delegate its powers to Kemal and his government.
Kemal abrogated the treaty of Sevres and raised a National Army from remnants of the Ottoman army and scattered
militia. This army, under his command, faced the Allied occupation forces and fought on three fronts: in the
Franco-Turkish, Greco-Turkish and Turkish-Armenian wars.
On the Armenian front, the Turks ultimately won control over areas where Turks constituted a majority, and signed
treaties with Armenia and with the successor Bolshevik government.
The main event of the war however, was the Greek invasion. After a series of battles, the Greeks had advanced as
far as the Sakarya River, eighty kilometers west of the seat of the Grand National Assembly in Ankara. Mustafa Kemal, leading the
Turkish Army, defeated the Greeks in the Battle of Sakarya, which lasted from August 23 to September 13, 1921. Mustafa
Kemal returned in triumph to Ankara, where the Grand National Assembly made him Field Marshal of the Army and gave him
the title of Gazi, or "Fighter of the Faith against the Infidel".
The final battle for the control of Anatolia was fought in August-September 1922. The Turks launched a counter-attack
on August 26th, the "Great Offensive" (Buyuk Taaruz). Kemal Ataturk launched an all-out attack on the Greek lines at
Afyon Karahisar, aimed at smashing a hole in the Greek defenses, cutting the Greek supply lines and opening the road to
Izmir and to the sea. The major Greek defense positions were overrun the day of the initial attack. On August 30, the
Greek army was defeated decisively at Dumlupınar, with about half of its troops captured or killed and all of its
equipment lost. By September 10, the Greek forces had completely evacuated Anatolia, the Turkish mainland.
The Treaty of Kars on October 23, 1921, settled the conflicts at the eastern border of Turkey and returned Kars and
Ardahan to the Turks. These cities had been captured by the Russian Empire during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878.
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk's daring gamble had paid off, both because of his skill as an organizer and military and
because of his luck. He was the type of general who seemed, like Caesar and Napoleon and Robert E. Lee, that he could
make his own luck. Ataturk had taken on a foolhardy and impossible task, since "everybody knew" that Turkey was rotten,
and her armies had folded up before the British advance. But the Greeks had been foolish to invade Turkey and overextend
themselves. The allies were generally bankrupt and not in a position to support them. Britain was only interested in
demobilizing its armies, and the United States was not going to extend support to Britain for further adventures in
Asia. The Armenians were weak, and the USSR had its own problems and desperately needed peace. The Turks came away with
a modest but impressive series of victories that put an end to idea of carving up Turkey. They came to the Lausanne
peace conference in a very different position from the other central powers, holding a royal flush, and could make their
own terms, despite their abrogation of former treaties. At the conference of Lausanne, which began on November 21,
1922. Ismet Inönü, later President of Turkey, led the Turkish delegation. Inonu represented the basic position of
the Ankara government that it had to be treated as an independent and sovereign state, equal with all other states
attending the conference, rather than as an occupied and defeated power. In accordance with the directives of Mustafa
Kemal, while discussing matters regarding the control of Turkish finances and justice, the infamous capitulations, the
right of navigation in the "Turkish Straits" (the Bosporus) and other issues, he refused any proposal that would
compromise Turkish sovereignty.
The allies had little choice but to agree. On July 24, 1923, the Treaty of Lausanne was signed. It confirmed the
objectives that Ataturk had promulgated, with a few exceptions. Turkey had claimed sovereignty over Mosul and
Kirkuk in Iraq, and had also claimed Antioch (Antakya) and Alexandretta (Iskendroun) in Syria. Turkey was given a share
in the Kirkuk and Mosul oil revenues. Alexandretta and Antakya were ceded to the French Syrian mandate, but returned to
Turkey in 1939.
The Republic of Turkey was declared on October 29, 1923. Mustafa Kemal was 42 years old. At the declaration, the
public cheered: "We are returning to the days of the first caliphs," but Mustafa Kemal Ataturk had very different plans
for Turkey. He placed Fevzi Çakmak, Kazım Özalp and İsmet İnönü in the important positions, where they helped him carry
out his radical innovations.
Turkey was still living in the 17th or 16th centuries in most fields. Following the Napoleonic wars, the Ottoman
government had begun to train a Western style army, but it was not supported by a Western administrative system, an
industrial system or an educational system, and its Westernization was in large part limited to a change of uniforms.
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk understood that democracy required an economic basis and economic independence. To pay its
debts and to garner Western support against Russia, as well as to appease Russia during its long 19th century decline,
the Ottoman empire had granted trade concessions, called "capitulations" to various Western powers. Each imperial power
vied with the others to get the biggest piece of Turkish trade and of economic rights. Kemal began working on the
abolition of the capitulations during the Conference of Lausanne, and insistent that the capitulations, all unequal
concessions to foreigners and minorities, and all outside interference had to be eliminated. Kemal Ataturk deadlocked
the Conference of Lausanne on this issue until the French and Italians had to give up their economic demands.
Mustafa Kemal married Latife Uşaklıgil on January 29, 1923. The marriage lasted only about two years until August 5,
1925, and was broken up under mysterious circumstances. The couple were childless. The circumstances of their
divorce were not revealed. A court order banned the publishing of his former wife's diaries and letters, which may have
contained information on the issue. Upon expiration of the court order, the head of the Turkish History Foundation,
where the letters are kept since 1975, said Latife Uşaklıgil's family had demanded that the letters remain secret.
Atatürk adopted his daughters Afet (İnan), Sabiha (Gökçen), who later became the first female combat pilot in the
world, Fikriye, Ülkü, Nebile, Rukiye, Zehra and his son Mustafa. Additionally, he had two children under his protection,
Abdurrahim and İhsan.
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk: Constitutional Issues and Secularism
The new Republic was buffeted both by forces of Turkish of reaction and by European ideologies, including communism
inspired by its northern neighbors and Fascism, then the rising star and "wave of the future," which attracted many in
the Middle East. Instead, Ataturk provided his own "Kemalist" ideology, a pragmatic modernization program. Like most
"guided democracies," his government was more guided than democratic. He experimented with direct government by an
assembly, but discarded it in favor of a more conventional Western model that included an executive. The governments
that are created by great men often are tailored for their rule only. Ataturk's achievement has survived its creator. In
fact, it survived all the fascist and communist systems that were created in that period, and is proving itself to be
extraordinarily resilient, despite fears and complaints that Turkey is in effect ruled by the military. By 1923,
the Ataturk government had created a backbone of legislative, judicial, and executive structures.
Kemal introduced the principle of secularism, much resented by the Turkish religious establishment and later by
Islamists. He presented it in terms of "independence," a continuation of the war for physical and economic independence.
He stated, "We must liberate our concepts of justice, our laws and our legal institutions from the bonds which, even
though they are incompatible with the needs of our century, still hold a tight grip on us"
The major reforms instituted by Mustafa Kemal included the complete separation of government and religious
affairs and the adoption of a strong interpretation of the principle of laïcité in the constitution. This was
implemented in practive by closing the Islamic courts and replacing Sharia (Islamic religious law) with a secular
civil code modeled after the Swiss Civil Code and a penal code modeled after the Italian Penal Code.
The most far reaching break with the past, symbolically, was the abolition of the
Caliphate. In reality, the Caliphate was
dead long before, and what remained was a symbol that had nothing to do with the Arab Caliphate of yore, but it had
remained as symbol. On March 1, 1924, Mustafa Kemal told the national assembly, "the religion of Islam will
be elevated if it will cease to be a political instrument, as had been the case in the past." Alone among the Muslim
countries of the Middle East, Turkey took the root of genuine Western-style democracy.
The Assembly transferred the powers of the Ottoman Caliphate into itself (see Abolishment of the Ottoman Caliphate).
On March 3, 1924, the Caliphate was officially abolished and its powers within Turkey were transferred to the Turkish
Grand National Assembly.
The basic trappings of a democracy: elections, assembly, government with a Prime Minister and President were
established under Mustafa Kemal's leadership. In his time, Turkey was not democratic however. The political system was
based on one party politics, characteristic even now of much the Middle East. The party was the Republican
People's Party ("Cumhuriyet Halk Fırkası" in Turkish) founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk on September
9, 1923. Actual power remained in the hands of Ataturk and of his followers regardless of elections. Ataturk was
initially president of the Republic, and later he was Prime Minister, with Ismet Inonu as President.
problem in Turkish politics since the foundation of the republic has been the struggle between secularism, represented
by followers of Ataturk, and Islamist and traditional Islamic views. Ataturk had created a cultural revolution,
not only abolishing the establishment of Islam as a state religion, but also forcing changes in dress and education,
eliminating the Arabic alphabet and generally trying to throw Turkey into the modern western world with even more vigor
than Peter the Great had evinced in Russia.
Mustafa Kemal's cultural revolution aroused opposition. In 1925, Ataturk asked Kazım Karabekir to establish the
Progressive Republican Party as an opposition party in the Assembly, in order to ease tensions. The new party was
quickly taken over by people Atatürk considered to be Islamic fundamentalists. In the same year, partly in response to
the Rebellion of Sheikh Said Piran ("Sheikh Said rebellion), the "Maintenance of Order Law" was passed, giving Atatürk
the authority to shut down subversive groups. The Progressive Republican Party was shut down soon after. d
On August 11, 1930, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk asked Ali Fethi Okyar to establish a new party that would be a secular
opposition. The Liberal Republican Party was an initial success, but it too began showing fundamentalist
tendencies. Ali Fethi Okyar apprently understood what was required of him: he abolished his own party.
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk: Economic Policies
Kemalist economics tried consciously to create an industrial middle class that was needed to support democracy and
modern society. Industrialization was difficult, primarily due to the lack of political institutions and social
classes that were needed t catalyze these changes.
Lacking private investment, Atatürk established state-owned factories throughout the country for agriculture,
machinery, and textile industries. Many of these into successful enterprises and were privatized during the latter half
of 20th century. Atatürk also set up a modern railway network and other infrastructure. During the depression, when
other countries began leaning toward more government intervention, Turkish politicians blamed the economic malaise on
too much government intervention in the economy and the socialist-style economic programs were modfied.
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk: Reform of Education
Mustafa Kemal's idea of national development was all-encompassing, see Atatürk's educational reforms. Besides general
education, he was interested in forming askill base through adult education. His adult education ideas were implemented
through centers called "People's Houses (Halk Evleri)." Turkish women learned child care, dress-making and household
management and also skills that would make them employable in industry.
Kemal also linked educational reform to the liberation of the nation from religious dogma, which he believed was even
more important than the Turkish war of independence. In the summer of 1924, Ataturk invited the American education
reformer John Dewey to provide advice.
Turkish had been written in Arabic characters and had a large vocabulary of Arabic and Persian loan words. Turkey had
an illiteracy rate of about 90%.
It was found that the Arabic writing and reading took far too long to learn, so a modified Western alphabet was
adopted instead, a rapid changeover being made in 1928. Kemal instituted universal education in Turkey and promoted the
modern teaching and learning methods in elementary education based largely on Dewey's ideas. One of the hallmarks of his
rule was that he liked to go about the country teaching the new alphabet in the countryside.
Ataturk's educational reforms were only partly successful. In 1927, about 11% of the population were literate. The
"universal education" law only provided for four years of compulsory education. By 1960, however, 40% were literate, and
currently about 87% are literate, with literacy at better than 94% among men. Lower literacy among women indicates that
women's equality, another goal of the republic, was not attained. These figures are somewhat better than were obtained
in some other Middle Eastern countries, including oil rich Saudi Arabia, but Jordan and the Palestinian authority have
literacy rates of over 90% and in Israel literacy is over 95%.
Social and other innovations of Ataturk
Mustafa Kemal commissioned the translation of Quran into Turkish and he read it in public in 1932. According to
strict Islamic law, the Quran must be read only in Arabic for religious purposes. The Arabic of the Quran is archaic and
highly literary and not always understood.
Despite the Islamic prohibition against alcoholic beverages, Ataturk encouraged domestic production of alcohol and
established a state-owned spirits industry. He was known to have an appreciation for the national beverage, rakı, and
enjoyed it in vast quantities.
The most visible of Kemal Ataturk's reforms was the dress code, reminiscent of the reforms of Peter the Great in
Russia. The Decree on dress targeted the religious insignia used outside times of worship. A series of laws beginning
from 1923 reformed Turkish dress. The most famous was the Hat Law of 1925, which introduced the use of Western
style hats instead of the fez, The Law Relating to Prohibited Garments of 1934, mandated modern suits instead of
antiquated religion-based clothing such as the veil and turban. Guidelines for the proper dress of students and state
employees were passed during his lifetime. Mustafa Kemal regarded the fez (in Turkish "fes", which Sultan Mahmud
II had originally introduced to the Ottoman Empire's dress code in 1826) as a symbol of oriental backwardness and banned
it. He encouraged the Turks to wear modern European attire. . After most civil servants had adopted the western hat with
their own free will, in 1925 Mustafa Kemal wore his "Panama hat" during a public appearance in Kastamonu, one of the
most conservative towns in Anatolia, to demonstrate that the hat was the headgear of civilized nations.
Kemal Ataturk Liberates Turkish Women
The sequestration of Turkish women and their lack of rights had been one of the most salient and lampooned features
of Turkish society. Kemal Ataturk had a definite philosophy of social revolution that had evolved before the beginning
of the republic, with an emphasis on liberation of women. He constantly discussed with his staff on issues like
abolishing the veiling of women and integration of females to social life, and developed conclusions. In November 1915,
Mustafa Kemal wrote in his diary that " social change can come by (1) educating capable mothers who are knowledgeable
about life; (2) giving freedom to women; (3) a man can change his morals, thoughts, and feelings by leading a common
life with a woman; as there is an inborn tendency towards the attraction of mutual affection."
Mustafa Kemal did not consider the gender to be a factor in social organization. He believed it was impossible for
Turkey to achieve progress and to become civilized if gender separation continued as in Ottoman times. He said
"everything we see on Earth is the product of women," and declared that "there was no logical explanation for the
political disenfranchisement of women. Any hesitation and negative mentality on this subject is nothing more than a
fading social phenomenon of the past. ……Women must have the right to vote and to be elected; because democracy dictates
that, because there are interests that women must defend, and because there are social duties that women must perform."
Kemal Ataturk's reforms instituted legal equality between the sexes and granted full political rights to women on
December 5, 1934, well before several other European nations. Though initially women were not elected in large numbers,
Turkish women went on to occupy as prominent a place in politics as their counterparts in other countries.
Kemal did not believe in forcing dress reform, contrary to modern Turkish practice. Though he personally advocated
modern dress for women, no laws were passed on the subject. He was often photographed on public business with his wife
Lâtife Uşaklıgil, who covered her head. He was also frequently photographed on public business with women wearing modern
He wrote: "The religious covering of women will not cause difficulty.... This simple style [of headcovering] is not
in conflict with the morals and manners of our society." He married Lâtife Uşaklıgil in a civil ceremony however, a
daring step in the 1920s.
Ataturk and the Arts
Mustafa Kemal declared that "culture is the foundation of the Turkish Republic." His view of culture included both
his own nation's creative legacy and what he saw as the admirable values of global civilization, emphasizing humanism.
In 1934, "Özsoy," composed by Adnan Saygun, the first ever Turkish opera work, openned at the People's House in
Atatürk stressed the need to utilize the elements of the national heritage of the Turks and of Anatolia, including
its ancient indigenous cultures, as well as the arts and techniques of other world civilizations, past and
present, to create a synthesis. Likewise, he emphasized the study of earlier civilizations, foremost of which being the
Sumerians, after whom he had named the "Sümerbank", and the Hittites, after whom he established "Etibank", as well as
other Anatolian civilizations such as the Phrygians and Lydians. He encouraged extensive research into the pre-Islamic
culture of the Turks. Atatürk also stressed the folk arts of the countryside as a wellspring of Turkish creativity.
Ataturk also encouraged the visual and the plastic arts, banned, limited or suppressed under Islamic regimes as
idolatry. Many museums were opened, architecture began to follow modern trends, and classical Western music, opera, and
ballet, as well as the theatre, also took greater hold. Several hundred "People's Houses" (Halk Evi) and "People's
Rooms" (Halk Odası) across the country allowed greater access to a wide variety of artistic activities, sports, and
other cultural events. Book and magazine publications increased as well, and the film industry began to grow.
Backlash and critique of Araturk's reforms
Atatürk's reforms were more popular in the prosperous cities than in the conservative and backward countryside.
In particular, Atatürk's secularization generated opposition, and made it easy both in his time and later, for
demagogues to harness religious unrest to be used against the regime. In the past, politicians who showed anti-secular
leanings like Adnan Menderes (1960) were overthrown by the army. The election of Abdullah Gul as President, as of this
writing (August 2007), has precipitated a fresh crisis of this type, because Gul's wife wears a headscarf, seen by the
military as an emblam of Islamism.
The Kurdish problem under Atatürk
Turkey has always been an agglomeration of all the ethnic groups under its sovereignty, even within Asia minor, and
the groups have not always got on together. Kemal Ataturk's attempts to deal with the ethnic problem, particularly that
of the Kurds, were not altogether successful, though this was not necessarily his fault. During the War of Independence,
Atatürk recognized the multiethnic character of the Muslim population in Turkey.
On February 13, 1925 a rebellion for an independent Kurdistan broke out in the Dersim region, led by Sheikh
Said of Piran, the rich hereditary chieftain of the Nakshibendi dervishes. Sheikh Said emphasized the issue of religion
rather than Kurdish nationalism. He stirred up his followers against the abolition of the Caliphate and the
anti-religious policies of the Kemalist government. Following their green Islamic banner, the Sheikh's forces
roamed through the country, seized government offices and marched on Elazığ and Diyarbakır. In a bit more than a
month, the revolt was put down. Said and 36 of his followers were condemned to death for treason and hanged. Several
other large-scale Kurdish revolts occurred in Ağrı and Dersim in 1930 and 1937. The Turkish Air Force bombed the Kurdish
uprisings. Sabiha Gökçen, the first female combat pilot in the world and the adopted daughter of Atatürk, took part in
the bombing raids against the Dersim Kurds.
Atatürk's nationalities policy was expressed in the manual of civics which he dedicated to his adopted daughter Afet
İnan in 1930:
"Within the political and social unity of today's Turkish nation, there are citizens and co-nationals who have been
incited to think of themselves as Kurds, Circassians, Laz or Bosnians. But these erroneous terms have brought nothing
but sorrow to individual members of the nation, with the exception of a few brainless reactionaries, who became the
Death of Ataturk
During 1937, it became obvious that he was ill, and thereafter he was found to be suffering from cirrhosis of the
In his last will and testament, written on September 5, 1938, he donated all of his possessions to the Republican
People's Party, on condition that, from the yearly interest on his funds, his sister Makbule and his adopted children
will be looked after, the higher education of the children of İsmet İnönü will be funded, and the Turkish Language
Association and Turkish Historical Society will be given the rest.
Atatürk died at the Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul, on November 10, 1938, at the age of 57. Atatürk's funeral called
forth both sorrow and pride in Turkey, and seventeen countries sent special representatives, while nine contributed with
armed detachments to the cortège. He was temporarily buried in the Ethnography Museum of Ankara.
On November 1953 his Mausoleum was completed. Mustafa Kemal's remains were taken from the Ethnography Museum of
Ankara by 138 young reserve officers in a procession that stretched for two miles including the President, the Premier,
every Cabinet minister, every parliamentary deputy, every provincial governor and every foreign diplomat, while at the
same time 21 million Turks stood motionless all over the country. One admiral guarded a velvet cushion which bore the
Medal of Independence; the only decoration, that Atatürk like to wear.
His lifestyle had always been strenuous. Alcohol consumption during dinner discussions, smoking, long hours of hard
work, very little sleep, and working on his projects and dreams had been his way of life. As the historian Will Durant
had said, "men devoted to war, politics, and public life wear out fast, and all three had been the passion of Atatürk."
Synonyms and alternate spellings: