Warrior for the Faith - Kemal Pasha - "How happy is the one who says I am a turk" | Eurasia Diary - ednews.net

15 December, Saturday


Warrior for the Faith - Kemal Pasha - "How happy is the one who says I am a turk"

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Mustafa Kemal Pasha Ataturk is a great nation-builder of modern times who devoted his life to the liberty and welfare of the Turkish nation. Kemal Pasha contributed a lot to the Turkish world as a radical modernizer, a participator in a universal civilization and a warrior who saved Turks from alien attacks (Mango, 2002). Ataturk is considered as a forward-looking politician not only in the eyes of the Republic of Turkey, but also of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The main reason is that he named Nakhchivan as “The Door of Turks” and defended it from the Armenian aggression. His accomplishments for the sake of Azerbaijani people are visible to naked eye. The world appreciates his policies to the great extent because Ataturk named the Republic of Turkey after a long period of time, secularized the state which proved that Turks were great even without commitment to Arabs, and empowered women in multilateral fields. 

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was born in 1881 in a city called Salonika which was a part of Ottoman Empire at that time. Ataturk’s father, Ali Riza died when Ataturk was 7 years old. Ali Riza decided to send Ataturk to a modern school rather than a religious one ruled by a hoja (Karpat, 1985). His western beliefs were shaped in this school, but it does not mean that Ataturk was against Islam or any religion. He was merely against the vestiges of obscurantism and superstition (Karpat, 1985). According to Karpat’s review (1985), Ataturk gained the name, Kemal (the perfect) at this school. At the age of 12, he joined to military school and later he attended to Military Academy in Istanbul (Mango, 2002). Ataturk succeeded to combine political agitation concentrating on his military studies. His career started as a military officer when he was given the duty to fight against Italians (Mango, 2002). Kemal Pasha’s power rose further when he was stated with the duty to command and fight at the Gallipoli battle in 1915 where his bravery brought victory to Turks (Mango, 2002). He is considered to be the only undefeated Ottoman military officer in World War 1. After gaining success on Balkan wars, Ataturk first decided to get rid of Ottoman Sultanate in 1922 and established the westernized, secular and modern Republic of Turkey. He became the first president of the Republic of Turkey in 1923 and served this position untill his death, 1938. In 1934, the Turkish Parliament granted him “Ataturk” as surname which means “the father of turks” since he was successful in adopting Turkicisation policy. He died in 1938 at the of 57 in Dolmabahche palace.

Why has Ataturk been successful?  Which traits enabled him to succeed? To start, Ataturk, a democratic leader, was an excellent communicator who regularly consulted with other leaders, shared his views with followers supportively and provided suggestions to the Turk army (Hackman and Johnson, 2009). From the article by the Froembgens (1939), it can be figured out how Ataturk was informing each step of the plan to the team members via telegraph. In one of the wars, Kemal Pasha does not touch any food, when he realizes that food is not sufficient for his soldiers (The Froembgens, 1939). All of these episodes explain that Ataturk was a true democratic leader who sacrificed his life to his nation. Moreover, Ataturk used a task-oriented communication style (Hackman and Johnson, 2009) claiming that “State is slipping from our hands” (Mango, 2002). He focused on a targeted task which was to unite Turks under an umbrella and outburst patriotic feelings in the hearts of all Turks. Ataturk applied expert power to his team (Hackman and Johnson, 2009) – as I mentioned above, he studied in Military school; thus, his instructors were commands to the followers. His achievements on battles showed that there was much truth in his commands – Turks were great without Arabic influence and military-based knowledge could help to get back occupied Turk territories. Additionally, he can be considered as a transformational leader (Hackman and Johnson, 2009) who played a huge role to empower women, conduct revolutionary reforms, and fight till the last drop of his blood passionately. He emphasized that access to westernized education and open-minded way of learning was a survival. He valued civilization greatly and brought new words from different languages to Turkish language. He always believed in the power of change, therefore, Arabic alphabet was removed with Latin in Turkey. During his authority, Ataturk closed religious institutions, allowed alcohol consumption, replaced men’s traditional headgear (the fez) with European hat and discouraged women to wear veils (Yegenoglu, 2011). All in all, Kemal Pasha served as a transformational leader through his life devoting himself to revolutionary changes.

Ataturk has a huge impact on Turks and Azerbaijanis worldwide. If today Turkish women can study at universities, apply for exchange programs, and build a career, this is the result of Ataturk’s policy. It is visible to the naked eye that there are several successful women leaders who work in high positions. We can connect this achievement with Ataturk’s policy and power. Deeply inspired by Westerns, he tranformed Ottoman Sultanate into a modern, civilizing and secular state. At the present time, Turks and Azerbaijanis benefit from integration with European neighbors in international conferences, exchange programs and open trade. As a woman, I learnt from Ataturk’s policy that it is possible to create a modern democratic state from the ashes of fundamentally religious and dictatorial empire. In one of Ataturk’s speeches, he claims that freedom and independence are his characters and he wants them to be characters of his people and nation (Mango, 2002). Thus, we can learn that independence and freedom work in the rise of a nation and bring unity, civilization, democracy, economic growth, equal rights and a brilliant future. As Ataturk stated, “How happy is the one who says I am a turk” (Tureng Dictionary). If we stand on our feet firmly and sleep in the bed comfortably, this is thanks to the Eternal leader, Mustafa Kemal Pasha Ataturk. 

Gunay Ismayilzadeh

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