|Biographical detail : ||The founder of modern Turkey.
Mustafa Kemal joined the army of Sultan Abdul Hamid II just as the Ottoman Empire in the Balkans was being torn from Istanbul’s grasp by nationalism and the plotting of the European powers. Military postings in Damascus, Salonika, Albania and Tripoli exposed him to the fragility of the empire’s hold on its territories and the decrepit state of its armies.
Namik Kemal was a famous poet who had fought for independence and Namik Kemal’s drama Vatan so much influenced Mustafa Kemal that he turned against the policies of Sultan Abdul Hamid Khan and formed a party known as Jamiat Huriityat.
Turkey joined the first world war on Germany’s side and Ottoman empire’s fortunes were tied to those of Germany and the central powers – thus with defeat came occupation and dispossession. The allied powers took what was left of the empire in the Middle East, occupied Istanbul and prepared to carve up what is now known as Turkey among them.
Mustafa Kemal along with other young Turks deposed Sultan Abdul Hamid Khan in 1908. In 1911 when Italy invaded Tripoli, General Anwar Pasha sent Kemal to fight there. A year later the Greeks revolted against the Turks. Mustafa Kemal re-conquered Adrian. Kemal showed his military abilities in the First World War and defeated the Greeks in Samarna and the British at Gallipoli (1915). In 1919 Kemal formed a parallel government in Anatolia and forced the Allied powers to recognise his government. He was elected first President of Turkish republic in 1923 and thereafter ruled Turkey till his death.
Mustafa Kemal introduced a number of social reforms, which affected religion, education, language, and status of women and dress. The clause relating to Islam was removed from the Constitution and Turkey became secular in 1924. The official language was declared to be Turkish and all Shari’a schools had been abolished. Women got their right of vote in 1934. Purdah was abolished and women became pilots and learnt to dance. Sunday became the day of rest and the Gregorian calendar was substituted for the lunar calendar. Roman script was introduced in 1928 and Ataturk went from village to village to teach students how to write in Roman. All this took 11 years, against a background of an already impoverished territory ravaged by defeat, occupation and, after 1929, severe economic hardship.
Kemal Ataturk was a nationalist and all people were declared citizens with equal rights before the law. Ataturk (father of Turks) was added to his name in 1933. His slogan “Turks for Turkey and Turkey for Turks” went deep into the hearts of people. He played the role of demigod admirably: “I am Turkey,” he declared, “to destroy me is to destroy Turkey.”
Kemal Ataturk paid special attention to agriculture, and the Ushr on produce of the land was abolished. People who believed in pre-destination, Ataturk taught them that man’s destiny in his own hands and no supernatural force influenced his actions.
Mustafa Kemal was born into a humble family, in what was then Ottoman Salonika, now Greek Thessaloniki. His father Ali Raza Bay got him admitted in the military school where the name Kemal was added to Musafa's name to distinguish him for his teacher who was also called Mustafa.