Reforms

The foundation of the Turkish Republic The war was over, and on Aug 11th, 1923, a new Grand National Assembly was inaugurated. Two days later, Mustafa Kemal, delivered a speech to review the events of the recent years. In this speech, and talking about the future, he had underlined that the first essential was to assure tranquility to the people and authority to the Government.

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk's reforms

The independence of the country must be secured against all possibilities of surprise, a task which could be entrusted to the army alone, and the perfection of the military machine must therefore be a cardinal point of the future policy.

The present form of government was based on a radical fault. It required each member of the Grand Assembly to participate in the choice and by implication control of each minister. As the first session of the Grand Assembly started on the morning of Oct 29th, 1923, the members have, with a majority, agreed to make a sudden move to change the Constitution which meant the Proclamation of the Republic. Mustafa Kemal was elected the new Republic’s President by 158 unanimous votes. The news was celebrated throughout the country with a salute of 101 guns.

Reforms of TurkeyThe Abolition of the caliphate The year 1924 saw the abolition of the Caliphate. On March 2nd, the Grand National Assembly passed a law deposing the Caliph and abolishing his office, ‘the function of the Caliph being essentially included in the meaning and connotation of the Government of the Republic’. Other secularizing laws were also passed abolishing or replacing other offices and religious courts in the next few weeks. All princes and princesses would have to leave Turkey in 10 days. Mustafa Kemal preferred secular education and civilization to ancient Moslem theocracy. Under the Republic, ‘Turkish religious fanaticism’ had withered, and the dominating fact was that the old and the new Turkey were seperated by an ‘impassable guld’ wrote The New York Tribune. The New York Times observed that, when Turkish national regime was fighting for its life, the Caliphate was one of its strongest assets; if Mustafa Kemal was now prepared to discard so valuable a trump, it must be that he felt that his country’s position was secure. The Hat Reform In mid August 1925, Mustafa Kemal expressed that he was determined on Westernization. Along with other changes in all stages of life, he was in favour of the introduction of the hat in place of the fez. Aug 23rd was the day he introduced the European hat in Kastamonu and underlined that this was a very important change in the way of modernization and civilization.

The Calendar At the end of December 1925, Turkey adopted the Gregorian Calendar and the 24-hour day. The official year which began on Jan 1st 1926 became 1926 and not 1324 as in the lunar Moslem calendar which was used by a few Moslem countries only, and p.m. hours were to be known officially in the 24 hour format. This was found by G.W. Rendel of the British Foreign Office as ‘an important and conenient reform – though rather surprising, considering the definitely Christian character of the era. It marks a further break with the Moslem world’ remarked G.W. Rendel. The Alphabet The alphabet that was used in the Ottoman Empire was a derivation of the Arabic Alphabet, using some Persian figures along with the language, which was not commonly used around the world, and would take much longer to learn compared to the Latin alphabet making the use of the European figures. On May 20th, 1928, the Grand National Assembly voted a law making the use of European figures compulsory for all official departments as of June 1st, and all private business as of Jun 1931. This is just another revolution like many others, and taking into consideration that only 10 days were given for this radical change, shows once again how fast and rapid the change in the structure had happened.

The Language As the 1920s came to an end, Turkey had fully and functionally adopted the new script, with its 29 letters (8 vowels and 21 consonants). The new alphabet had none of the complexities of the Arabic script, which was ill-suited to the Turkish language. The language reform enabled children and adults to read and write within a few months, and to study Western languages with greater effectiveness. The reform of the Turkish Alphabet was leading, logically enough, to a reform of the Turkish language, in terms of the elimination of Persian and Arabic forms which held a tight grip over Ottoman Turkish. For this purpose, Mustafa Kemal founded The Turkish Institution of Language in 1932. From then onwards he spent much of his time surrounded by piles of dictionaries, old and new, searching for ‘pure Turkish words’, trying to create a refined Turkish.

Reforms

In the early 1930s, Atatürk spearheaded the movement to eliminate these borrowings. In replacing loan words from foreign languages, large numbers of original words, which had been in use in the earlier centuries, were revived, and provincial expressions and new coinages were introduced.

The transformation met with unparalleled success; in the 1920s, the written language consisted of more than 80 percent Arabic, Persian, and French words but by the early 1980s the ratio had declined to a mere 10 percent. Atatürk’s language reform encompassing the script, grammar and vocabulary, stands as one of the most far-reaching in history. It has overhauled Turkish culture and education.

The Turkish Women Recieve The Right to Vote “A social body consists of two kinds of human beings, called men and women. It cannot advance without both. Is it possible that, while one half of a community stays chained to the ground, the other half can rise to the skies? … by the two sexes together, as friends, and together they must accomplish the various stages of the journey into the land of progress and renovation. If this is done, our Revolution will be successful.”

On April 3rd, 1930, the Grand National Assembly passed a law introducing the modifications in the powers and the constitution of municipalities in Turkey. The law granted women the right to take part in the election of members of municipal councils. Later in 1935, women were permitted to vote in the parliamentary elections and with Mustafa Kemal’s support, 17 women were elected deputies to the Grand National Assembly.


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