For any new reader of my column, you should know that this series details the current conflict in Turkey.
The key word there is 'current.'
Instead of scouring out the most 'current' news on media websites, I have instead dusted off some Encyclopedias to look at the country's most influential political leader who created the foundation for modern Turkey after World War I.
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
The army officer who served as the first President and Prime Minister of Turkey lived almost a century ago, but his ideas, politics and achievements still remain relevant among the current state of the Turkish government.
Having grown up in a Turkish household, I knew all about Ataturk long before I knew of Santa Claus. Under his leadership, Turkey experienced a revolution within its society, specifically through policy and economy. The country that was easily on its way to downfall during and after WWI was held together because of one man's love, passion and determination to see the citizens of his country receive the best treatment and support possible.
Although, Ataturk's strong-willed nature in making Turkey the secular state it should be is currently being threatened by the people holding the same position he held almost a hundred years later. PM Erdogan has made his wishes very clear to the citizens of Turkey; his plans for future government reform include restricting women's use of birth control, admonishing the sale of liquor and alcohol in public places and, most recently, destroying parks to build shopping malls.
Ataturk served as the first President of Turkey from 1923 to 1938. In 1926, he had the Turkish penal code passed, and Islamic courts were closed; in 1927, he oversaw the opening of the State Art and Sculpture Museum, as he was highly interested in bringing culture to the country.; and in 1928, within a few months, he worked to create a new Latin-based alphabet that would diminish the use of the previous Arabic script, which was projected to take years to accomplish.
Additionally, Ataturk established women's rights in a society that had never known of them before; he abolished women wearing headscarves, unified education, gave men and women equal rights in matters of divorce and inheritance and, in 1934, women were given the right to vote.
"There is no logical explanation for the political disenfranchisement of women," he said. "Any hesitation and negative mentality on this subject is nothing more than a fading social phenomenon of the past. Women must have the right to vote and to be elected; because democracy dictates that, because there are interests that women must defend, and because there are social duties that women must perform."
His modernization was a stark contrast to the religion-based roots of the previous Ottoman Empire rule that controlled the government before him. Turkey was completely independent from Islamic law, which was very strictly only considered in the light of religion.
Today, it seems as if Prime Minister Erdogan is trying to go back to the restricted rules and regulations of the Ottoman Empire, basing all of his governmental decisions of a religion-based foundation. The modernization that Ataturk worked so hard to establish is being neglected, ignored and disrespected by a man who openly hates the man who made Turkey what it is today.
It's confirmed that Erdogan's wishes for Turkey are beyond what is accepted by the majority of the country's citizens. He has slowly but surely been incorporating Islamic policy into Ataturk's free-of-religion republic.
Maybe there is some merit in the cliché "history repeats itself." If it really has any truth to it, then maybe all Turkey needs is to revisit Ataturk and see exactly where everything went wrong.
Melodi Erdogan is a rising junior in journalism and electronic media. She can be reached at email@example.com.