Ataturk (Mustafa Kamal Pasha)

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Ataturk, founder and the first President of the Turkish Republic; (1881 – 1938). From 1899 on he took an active part in the secret movements that opposed the reign of Ottomans. They had been brought into being by the despotism of Sultan Abdul hamid II. Mustafa Kmal took part only from a distance in the activities of the “Union and Progress” movement. He distinguished himself in the defence of Tripolitania, when it was invaded by the Italians in 1911, at the Dardanelles in 1915, in the Caucasus in 1916 and in Palestine in 1917. He did not #### agree with the draconian terms of the Armistice, and in 1919 landed at Samsun with his mind made up to fight for the total independence of Turkey. He organised congresses at Erzurum and Sivas and assembled in 1920 the first Great National Assembly in Ankara. The struggle against the Allies, in particular the Greeks, was won in 1922, and against the Government at Istanbul in the same year, when the sultanate was abolished. In 1923 he was elected President, and at the Lausanne Conference Turkey was given complete independence and national frontiers. The caliphate was abolished in 1924. Mustafa Kamal was fiercely determined to modernise the country, to free it from foreign economic tutelage and to secularise it. Relying on the absolutely devoted People’s Party, he suppressed the religious courts, the Quranic schools and dervish orders, prohibited the wearing of the fez and abolished the article of the Constitution declaring Islam the state religion. Foreign companies were antionalised, agriculture and industry stimulated, and national banks created. He further refirmed the alphabet, introduced the vote for women and new civil, criminal, and commercial codes. In 1934 a law required all citizens to use family names. In that year the National Assembly accorded Mustafa Kamal the name of Ataturk “Father of the Turks”. In foreign policy, he showed himself to be pacific, though determined to protect the independence of his country.


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