Ataturk and Turkish Independence Essay

  • Length: 3 pages
  • Sources: 3
  • Subject: History - World War I
  • Type: Essay
  • Paper: #68551640

Excerpt from Essay :

Ataturk's Influence On The New Turkish Republic And Village Institutes

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, or "Father Turk," is credited with being the father of the modern nation of Turkey. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Turkey did not exist as we know it today. Its territory was part of the Ottoman Empire, a conglomeration of different ethnicities and religions of various tribal affiliations. Under Ataturk's vision and leadership, a new nation emerged. He was spurred on by the growing nationalist movements sweeping across Europe. Ataturk was fundamentally a modernist, which can be seen in his efforts during World War I, his personal philosophy and lifestyle, and also the secular reforms which he implemented during his reign, including those in education.

Even before World War I, the Ottoman Empire was known as the Sick Man of Europe. It was corrupt and weak. While studying at the war college of the Empire as a young man, Ataturk's nationalist ambitions were fostered as he became more fully acquainted with the incompetency of the Ottoman regime. The young Ataturk along with his other military students was forced to pray to the Sultan as well as God. He was also prohibited from drinking and engaging in other Western practices that conflicted with the literal teachings of Islam. These early experiences likely fostered his resistance to institutionalized religious compulsion, particularly by the state, although his mother had hoped that her young son would follow a religious vocation.

Eventually, Ataturk was exiled to Damascus as a result of his perceived insubordination, which only strengthened his resolve to resist backward ideas. Ataturk continued to be in conflict with the ruling powers of his nation in his opposition to Germany; despite this fact, he was forced to fight for Germany and against Russia during the war. Still, Ataturk had a major influence in the stunning defeat of the British Navy by the Sick Man of Europe. He distinguished himself repeatedly in his military leadership. Despite the fact that he fought for the Ottoman Empire, Ataturk's ideas about what constituted an ideal new nation-state remained unwaveringly secularist and influenced by his belief that the religious constructs which governed the Ottoman Empire were misguided. Later, Ataturk, after he ascended to leadership of the new nation of Turkey would say: "Religion is an issue of conscience. Everyone is free to conform to the commands of their conscience. We show respect for religion...We are only trying not to mix religious affairs with the affairs of the nation and the state" (Ataturk - Republic of Turkiye (Part 2), 2007).

Thus from the beginnings of his career in the military and later as a revolutionary supporter of resistance and independence, Ataturk was a secularist. When he assumed leadership of the new nation, he promoted equal education, modern dress,…

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