Is there anyone you can call the most important person in the world? What is the factor that makes him or her so significant? How do you measure the worth of a person correctly? The inventor of the light bulb was a very important famous scientist, Thomas Edison. The most famous comedian in the history of cinema was Charlie Chaplin. A master martial arts instructor was Bruce Lee. Genghis Khan was known for his cruelty and many successes. Those names come to mind. Yet, one of the beloved presidents of the United States of America, John F. Kennedy, is reported to have said, “The name of Ataturk reminds people of the historical successes of one of the great individuals of this century . . . It is without a doubt that another example can’t be shown indicating greater successes than the birth of the Turkish Republic and ever since then Ataturk’s and Turkey’s broad and deep reforms” (Kennedy, 1963). As Kennedy said, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was one of the most important leaders in the world because he caused the Ottoman Empire to end, founded modern Turkey, and protected women’s rights.
Even though Mustafa Kemal Ataturk began as a normal soldier, he became a person who changed all Turkish history by causing the Ottoman Empire to end. The Ottoman Empire had existed seven hundred years and dominated three continents: North Africa, Asia, and Europe. Also, it was governed by cruel Sultans in Islamic Law. They occupied the other countries’ lands and took gold or money in return for not terminating their kingdoms’ sovereignty. Moreover, they retained their boys to make them soldiers and their girls for serving the Sultans as servants or concubines (Zilfi, 2010). The men and women were not equal and the law did not allow women to get an education. Furthermore, during the census, they counted only men and animals. From the beginning, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was against that governance. At first, the government put him in jail for his modern and European ideas. Then, the Ottoman government invited other countries to occupy their own homeland. Thus, Anatolia was occupied by British, French, Italian, Australian, New Zealand and Greek armies. But Mustafa Kemal did not give up and escaped from the jail. Even though he was wanted for execution, he went from town to town and tried to raise awareness and recruit people. Then, Mustafa Kemal and the village people established the first Turkish parliament. They combined their power against the Ottoman Empire and the other countries which were supported by the Ottoman Empire and defeated them in a war. In this way, they caused the Ottoman Empire to collapse.
After the Turkish people won the war of independence, Kemal Ataturk founded a modern country. He had just one ideal, which was to convert ignorant people and modernize his country. He wanted Turkish people to try to reach a level of contemporary civilization, and he established a republic because he believed an empire, dictatorship or theocracy could not provide the needs of the developing, changing and contemporary world. As a researcher said, “Mustafa Kemal Atatürk introduced a broad range of swift and sweeping reforms - in the political, social, legal, economic, and cultural spheres - virtually unparalleled in any other country’’ (Dogan, 1994, para. 3) He changed the state’s management, converted the Arabic alphabet to Latin, modernized the educational systems, encouraged women to get education, adapted to European clothing, and applied modern time and measurement. The most important thing was to eliminate the state’s Islamic religion and make the country secular. The republic was his greatest heritage to the Turkish people. In fact, the proclamation of the republic is the greatest revolution in Turkish history.
When he declared the republic, he also immediately made very important reforms to protect women’s rights. First, he began to write a constitution that adapted European laws. He changed the educational system so that women could go to school like men. Before the republic, society considered women to be the origin of sin, a symbol of evil, and the Devil’s tool as in Arabic society. However, during Ataturk’s reforms, they stopped seeming like property and became equal with men. They also could vote and became parliamentarians long before the rest of Europe. For example, Turkey granted women the right to vote 11 years before France and Italy, 12 years before Romania, 13 years before Bulgaria, 14 years before Belgium, and 36 years before Switzerland. Men had to marry just one woman and the women had the right to divorce like men and own property. Ataturk really tried to protect women’s rights and was against unprogressive people.
Mustafa Kemal did great things: he caused the Ottoman Empire’s authority to end, he founded a modern country, and he protected human rights, especially women’s rights. He encouraged many Turkish people to fight with several different countries’ armies that came to occupy Turkish lands. Then, they won an amazing war, and they created a new country. After that, he wrote a constitution that valued women by giving them rights. As President Kennedy said, “He was a great peace-maker, an ultimate reformer and a torch-bearer of freedom” (Kennedy, 1963).
https://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer ... 7-001.aspx.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery_i ... rial_Harem
Madeline C. Zilfi, Women and slavery in the late Ottoman Empire, Cambridge University Press, 2010
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