Mustafa Kemal served as founder and president of the new Republic of Turkey for 15 years, from 1923 to his death in 1938. He introduced numerous sweeping reforms that altered the political, social, legal, economic, and cultural spheres of the new republic. His goal: to raise Turkey to the level of modern civilization. 6 groups of major reforms:
- Political reforms: November 1922, the abolishment of sultanate October 1923, proclamation of republic March 3, 1924, the abolishment of caliphate
- Social reforms: 1926-1934 recognition of equal rights for men and women. Ex. : 1926, a new civil code abolished polygamy and gave women equal rights in divorce, custody, and inheritance through 1920s/1930s
- He promoted women’s rights
- He also made the educational system co-ed from grade school to universities
- Ahead of many European nations, giving women full political rights by mid-30s, eighteen women were in parliament
More Social Reforms
Reform of Headgear and Dress (November 1925) – European hats replaced the Fez, women stopped wearing the veil (heavily discouraged), Western clothing for men and women was encouraged.
By 1934, religious-based clothing was banned. November 1925, Closure of Dervish lodges. Believed they were used for Muslim organizing. ? June 1934, Law on Family Names: o everyone had to adopt a last name o he became Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (Father of Turks) November 1934, Abolishment of Honorary Titles o ex. : Pasha was a commonly bought titl
Adoption of International Calendar, hours and measurements (1925-1931). Instead of Islamic Calendar – it was a move towards secularization.
3. Legal reforms: 1924-1937, Abolishment of the Canon Law (old Ottoman Law) transferred to secular legal system beginning with adoption of Turkish Civil Code and other laws (1924-1937)
4. Education reforms – March 1924, Unification of Education: all schools placed under government started program of science transfer from Europe ex. : University of Istanbul took in German and Austrian scientists viewed “unacceptable” by National Socialist Regime in Germany. In this way, Ataturk’s government was trying to build up the study of science in Turkey—trying to break away from the reliance on receiving ideas from foreigners as the Ottoman Empire had done.
Other Educational Reforms
Adoption of new Turkish alphabet to replace Perso-Arabic Updating alphabet was part of modernization process. Ataturk’s government defended abandonment of Arabic writing by stating that it did not work well with the spoken Turkish language – too ambiguous.
ex. : a single written phrase could be translated numerous ways
“Muhammad became a Pasha” or “Muhammad Pasha died” It was also believed that the new alphabet (a Latin script) would be easier to learn and would encourage literacy.
Other Education Reforms
Establishment of Turkish language and history institutions (1931-1932):
- Turkish Language Association
- Turkish Historical Society
Both created to conduct research on the Turkish language and history—Turkish nationalism.
5. Culture and the arts under attack
Ataturk strongly believed in importance of culture and the arts, he stated “culture is the foundation of the Turkish Republic”, he stressed the importance of studying prior civilizations, especially PreIslamic culture of the Turks. Did this prove Turkish people had an established civilization long before the Ottoman Empire?
Ataturk also emphasized folk arts of the rural people as national treasures that demonstrated Turkish creativity during Ataturk’s presidency: numerous museums were opened (contrary to old Ottoman belief against depiction of human form—idolatry). Architecture thrived classical Western music, opera, ballet, and theater became popular “People’s Houses” and “People’s Rooms” were established all over Turkey where people could engage in artistic activities, sports, and other cultural activities. Books and magazines were also published increasing frequency and the motion picture industry began. Ataturk’s influence created a nation interested in its cultural heritage, but also interested in the heritage of the world and advances in modern technology.
6. Economic Reforms: When Turkey established in 1923 (severe lack of capital and industry) government strove to change
- encouragement of farmers and establishment of model farms
- establishment of industrial facilities (state-owned factories—agriculture, machine making, textiles) and incentives for businesses
- many factories/businesses privatized in late twentieth-century development of national railway: 1927 Turkish State Railways
Ataturk Stated: “Our nation has crushed the enemy forces. But to achieve independence we must observe the following rule: national sovereignty should be supported by financial independence. The only power that will propel us to this goal is the economy. No matter how mighty they are political and military victories cannot endure unless they are crowned by economic triumphs. ” Within a decade, the gross national product increased five times over.
Did Everyone in the New Republic Accept All These Changes Easily/Willingly?
No there was opposition.
Ex.: Kemal did make Islam the state religion, but wanted to keep it separate from the government. So he abolished the caliphate and this led Islamic conservatives to oppose him. National Assembly also exiled all members of the Ottoman royal dynasty—the families who had ruled over the Ottoman territory for 625 years. This destruction of the old Islamic order shocked many within the country, especially the Islamic conservatives. Government acquired more enemies from the many who’d been civil servants in Istanbul, but who’d lost their jobs when the capital moved to Ankara.
Other Enemies of Ataturk’s Government
Kurds were Muslims who felt their bond with state was gone after caliphate abolished government further alienated them by banning their language, the teaching of Kurdish folklore/folkways, and names. The government also resettled numerous Kurds to western Turkey all of this led the Kurds to riot and stage several revolts, which were suppressed by the government strongly religious Turks joined in the rioting in 1926, an attempt made on Ataturk’s life, which if it had been successful would have been part of a coup. Result: numerous people were arrested—even politicians. Several were hanged or went to prison.