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Turkish Republic

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At the end of the First World War, the Ottoman Empire, which had entered on the side of the Germans, was effectively occupied by the Allies. The Ottoman government was defeated and the sultanate had lost credibility. Mustafa Kemal a popular young General in the Ottoman army, who had remained undefeated throughout the war, emerged as the leader to take Turkey forward into a new era. During the War of Independence which lasted from 1919-1923, Mustafa Kemal was elected President of the Turkish Grand National Assembly which was inaugurated on April 23rd 1920 and, with his Minister of Foreign Affairs, İsmet Pasha (İnonü), in 1923 he successfully negotiated the Lausanne Peace Treaty which set Turkey's national borders and recognized Turkey's right of sovereignty.

The Turkish Republic was proclaimed on October 29th 1923. Mustafa Kemal undertook a wide range of far-reaching reforms. In order for Turkey to become a modern nation, he believed that it was imperative to separate religious and state affairs. Faith became a matter of personal choice, Shariah courts were replaced by secular courts and the religious school system was abolished. In 1937 the secularity of Turkey was added to the Constitution as a clause, making Turkey the only country with a predominantly Muslim population to be a secular state. Atatürk believed that Turkey's future lay with the west, and embraced all aspects of modernity with enthusiasm, including adopting European dress. In 1925 the international (rather than the Islamic) time and calendar systems were adopted. The new Turkish alphabet was prepared by the Ministry of National Education, with the aim of increasing levels of literacy, and the move was made from the Arabic to the Latin alphabet. Atatürk saw the role of women as crucial to the development of the new Republic. Polygamy was prohibited, and by 1930 women had been granted the right to vote and to hold office in municipalities.In 1934 all citizens had to adopt a surname and Mustafa Kemal was given the name 'Atatürk' (it means 'Father of the Turks').

Atatürk died on November 10th 1938 in Dolmabahçe Palace in İstanbul. The clocks in the palace are all stopped at 09.05, the time that he died. Atatürk is buried in his capital, Ankara, in his imposing mausoleum, Anıtkabir. Atatürk is revered in Turkey and you will notice that most offices have a picture of him on the wall. It is unacceptable to Turks to insult him or show disrespect, even in jest.

The Turkish Constitution According to the Constitution, Turkey is a republic, and at the same time it is a democratic, laic and social state governed by the rule of law respecting human rights and committed to Atatürk's principles and nationalism. Laicism is the important principle that the basic social, economic, political and legal order of the state may not rely, even partially, on religious rules. The Constitution of the Republic of Turkey guarantees the rights of Turkish citizens to lead dignified lives and develop their material and spiritual being. Everyone is equal before the law and the Constitution does not allow any discrimination based on language, religion, denomination, race, skin colour, gender, political opinion, or philosophical beliefs.The following clauses of the constitution cannot be amended:

1- The Turkish State is a republic 
2- The Turkish State is an indivisible whole, with its country and nation 
3- The language of the Turkish State is Turkish 
4- The Turkish State has a flag with a white crescent and pentagram on a red background 
5- The national anthem of the Turkish State is the İstiklal Marşı (Independence March) 
6- The capital of the Turkish State is Ankara.

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