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Voice of


ASA FUNDRAISER FOR CYDD Demonstration to Support Secularism




Adulteration of National Identity

The Atatürk Society of America

Voice of


Phone 202 362 7173  Fax 202 363 4075  E-mail

CHAIRMAN’S COMMENTS 03 Secularism Under Siege in Turkey

Hudai Yavalar


PRESIDENT’S COMMENTS Atatürk and Anzac Day: Reflections on the Gallipoli Campaign

Timur Edib

ASA NEWS 05 Anzac Day

EXECUTIVE BOARD   President Timur Edib


ASA NEWS 06 The Developments in Turkey are

Contemporary Life

ASA NEWS 08 Village School in Anatolia Receives

First Piano From Atatürk Society of America (ASA)


Sophia into a Museum


Adulteration of National Identity

Dr. Hakki Keskin, former German Parliamentarian

The Turkish Republic’s thirst for 14 Western culture


Hudai Yavalar, Chairman, Founding President Adm. William J.Crowe Jr., Former Trustee Prof. Ali Dogramaci Prof. Talat Halman Prof. Suna Kili Hon. Greg Laughlin Dr. Andrew Mango Orhan Tarhan, Past President Prof. Behram Kursunoglu, Former Trustee Prof. Arnold Ludwig

Universality of Civilization & Peace Award Prof. Bernard Lewis Dr. Andrew Mango Education & Modernization Award Prof. Turkan Saylan Leadership Award Senator Chuck Hagel Speaker Newt Gingrich

17 M. K. Atatürk: Patron of the Arts 18 By Arnold Reisman Türkan Saylan

Magazine Design by Sitki Kazanci


Members Bulent Atalay Serkan Karamete Tijen Arik

Peace & Democracy Award Senator Robert C. Byrd Richard Holbrooke Adm. William J. Crowe Jr. Secularism & Democracy Award The Turkish General Staff Orhan Tarhan Science is Guidance Award Prof. Behram Kursunoglu

Metin Camcigil

Open Letter To Turkish Prime 13 Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Treasurer Mirat Yavalar Secretary Ilknur Boray


ASA NEWS 09 Atatürk’s Conversion of the Hagia

Vice President Filiz Odabas-Geldiay



ASA NEWS 07 The Association to Support

4731 Massachusetts Ave. NW Washington DC 20016 

Published by the Atatürk Society of America, 4731 Massachusetts Ave. NW Washington, DC 20016. ISSN 1544-0966 POSTMASTER: The Atatürk Society of America, 4731 Massachusetts Ave. NW Washington, DC 20016 Application to Mail at Periodical Postage Rates is Pending at Washington DC and addititonal mailing offices. Articles related to Atatürk or his priciples are welcome and should be accompanied by the name, address, and resume of the author (not to be published). Articles are accepted only in an electronic format. Copyright 2009 by ASA. Printed in the U.S.A.


Secularism Under Siege in Turkey


Hudai Yavalar Chairman, Founding President

urkey is often referred to as a secular country with a predominantly Muslim population. But after eight years of Ak Party rule, and discreet, long-term efforts to erode its secular tenets, I find it difficult to recognize the secular nature of the Republic of Turkey. One of the most important changes Atatürk implemented with the status of a new Republic was the principle of secularism. This principle was at the center of most of the radical social transformations which were undertaken to implement the Turkish Revolution. The new Turkish Republic established in 1923 is based on the belief that political power is derived from the will of the people, not a god or higher spiritual entity, as was believed under the Ottoman Empire. After the Declaration of Amasya, the decisions of the Erzurum and Sivas congresses, and the convening of the Grand National Assembly (TGNA) on April 23, 1920, the legal basis of both the National Struggle and political power consisted of the will of the people. The next day, a proposal accepted announced “there is no authority superior to the TGNA.” The 1921 Constitution furthered that principle with the acceptance of “Sovereignty belongs unconditionally to the people.” But it was the TGNA which on November 1, 1922 abolished the Sultanate, and a truly new era was born. However, there have been some troubling signs in the last eight years. This is not the modernity that Atatürk envisioned or promoted. Instead of building schools and hospitals, there has been a proliferation of mosques in the country. There is today one mosque for every 350 citizens—compared to one hospital for every 60,000 citizens—the highest number per capita in the world and, with 90,000 imams, more imams than doctors or teachers. (Can Dündar, Milliyet (Istanbul), June 21, 2007) Spending by the governmental Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet Işleri Başkanlığı) has grown five fold, from 553 trillion Turkish lira in 2002 (approximately US $325 million) to 2.7 quadrillion lira during the first four-and-a-half years of the AKP government; it has a larger budget than eight other ministries combined. (Reha Muhtar, Vatan (Istanbul), June 22, 2007) Turkish police and military are under assault. Officers loyal to the Republic and secular values have been purged in favor of those more sympathetic to the Ak Party. No Prime Minister in modern history has been so hostile to the press. Prime Minister Erdogan has openly called for the boycott of newspapers critical of him or his Administration. A $513 million tax fine was levied on a publicly traded newspaper and television holding company owned by Aydin Dogan, but it is generally seen as a “penalty” for covering stories unflattering to Ak Party and a message to the Administration’s critics. Many members of Atatürk Society of America are concerned about developments in Turkey and the future of the country. It is crucial that we continue to keep Atatürk’s philosophy alive and remind decision makers of the essence of secularism and its crucial importance to the viability of a free and independent Republic of Turkey.



Atatürk and ANZAC Day: Reflections on the Gallipoli Campaign Timur Edib President



his year I was honored to be invited to attend the ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) Day Ceremony held on April 24th at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. It was a humbling tribute to the young Australian and New Zealand soldiers that sacrificed life and limb for their countries almost one hundred years ago. April 25th is a day of national reflection and remembrance for two nations, and a day of humility for all nations. While the tribute is in honor of the ANZAC which fought in the Gallipoli campaign against the Ottoman Empire during World War I, it is a day dedicated in tribute to all soldiers that gave their lives for their countries. The young soldiers of the Commonwealth nations known as the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, landed on the beaches of Gallipoli with the charge of taking Istanbul. The Ottoman Empire, they were told was a threat to democracy, freedom, and to the Commonwealth. They expected to easily secure the beach and provide access for the Allied Forces into the Black Sea. What they encountered was nothing like what they expected. They engaged a military force of determined Turks, lead by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, fighting to protect their homeland. After eight months of battle and high casualties on both sides, the ANZACs withdrew. They did not win the battle, but they did not leave as losers either. Gallipoli will forever remain a place for reflection, and a lesson in humanity and humility. ANZAC Day reminds us every year about what it is to be sovereign; a sovereign nation, a sovereign people, and mostly a sovereign democracy. It is a day to remember that a nation can be only as strong as the will of its sovereign. In a dictatorship or monarchy, it is represented by the will of its ruler, but in a democracy, it is represented by the will of its people. I believe the lesson of the Gallipoli Campaign commemorated on ANZAC Day was in accepting this fact. The ANZAC Corps entered the Gallipoli Campaign because it was the command of the sovereign ruler of the British Empire to protect freedom. The ANZAC left Gallipoli learning that freedom required the will of its people. Humanity requires that we learn lessons from history, and ANZAC Day I believe is a day to remember the lesson of Gallipoli. The ANZAC soldiers travelled half the way around the globe to fight a battle to protect freedom, not understanding that the people they were fighting were also fighting to secure their own freedom. A horrific loss of life for both sides, with the Turks suffering twice the casualties as the ANZAC, and with all dying to protect the same thing. Freedom! They were each fighting in honor of their sovereign and to protect their sovereignty. Understanding ANZAC Day requires an understanding of sovereignty. A sovereign country is defined as an independent self-governing country. It is a land that our own blood relatives sacrificed their lives to protect, so that we may enjoy our freedom. It is the land our ancestors lived and died on. . It is a place of the most sacred and hallowed ground, where our roots are laid, and have been for generations. It is more than a just a spot of land. It is where our relatives are laid to eternal rest. It is the home of our forefathers and the home of our children. It is our culture and it is our history. It is our home. It is in this context that the words of Atatürk bear deeper meaning. Engraved on what is now hallowed ground for the ANZAC troops on Turkish soil are these infamous words of Atatürk: “Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the


Mehmets to us, where they lie, side by side here in this country of ours. You, the mothers who sent their sons from faraway countries wipe away your tears. Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land, they have become our sons as well.” The nations of Australia and New Zealand have learned what it means to be a sovereign nation to Turks by the experiences of Gallipoli. Unfortunately, Turkey today has forgotten the meaning of sovereignty! Turks have not embraced the value of the sacrifice of our forefathers, and do not understand that it is within its citizens that sovereignty reigns. To this day, Turks look to a leader to be guided, and refuse to embrace democracy. They fail to understand the gift that Atatürk gave to them and charged them to protect - at all costs. It is my sincere hope that all Turks commemorate ANZAC Day, and learn the lessons that the ANZAC and their nations have learned. A true sovereign nation belongs to its people, and the people shall honor the home of their forefathers, their children, and the generations to come. A sovereign nation will protect its freedom at all costs from all enemies, foreign or domestic. This is our highest oath, our most solemn promise. With gratitude,

Timur Edib, President

ASA Members and leadership during the Dawn Service Memorial Tribute to the Veterans of ANZAC.



his year, for the first time, Atatürk Society of America (ASA) was invited to play a very special role in the ANZAC ceremonies in Washington, DC. During the Dawn Service Memorial Tribute to the Veterans of ANZAC, and to those who have served their country at the Korean War Veterans Memorial, Yavuz Arik, (on behalf of ASA), read Kemal Atatürk’s tribute to the soldiers killed at Gallipoli: Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives… You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where They lie side by side now here in this country of ours… You, the mothers, who sent their sons from faraway countries wipe away Your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land., they have become our sons as well. The audience was reminded of Atatürk’s magnanimous words, which were well received and repeated throughout the day. We were often approached by participants declaring their love and admiration for Atatürk, who was a world leader, who if he were alive today, he would have played a very important role in helping resolve some of the conflicts currently experienced. Atatürk is remembered and revered for his exemplary leadership capabilities which brought together countries who had previously viciously combated each other. As in past years, a wreath presented by ASA was carried throughout the day to the different venues. ASA’s flowers laid beside those of the Embassy of Australia, Embassy of New Zealand, British Embassy, Embassy of Canada Embassy of France, Korean Embassy, and others. We were proud to see ASA’s wreath prominently displayed at different locations. As the representatives of a Turkish American non-profit organization, we were pleased to take part in such an important commemoration and contribute to Turkish-ANZAC relations. FALL’09 | VOICE OF ATATÜRK  5


The Developments in Turkey are Alarming


n February 15, AtatürkSociety of America (ASA) and supporting organizations held a demonstration in LaFayette Park across from the White House, which attracted participants from around the United States, and was supported by: American Turkish Association of Washington DC, Florida Turkish American Association, Maryland American Turkish Association, Washington Turkish Women’s Association. Event speaker Ata Yavalar, ASA Youth Leader, warned against the actions to dismantle Kemalist precepts. The ruling party has compromised the nation’s news media, women, jeopardizing inquiry, democracy, societal and individual liberties, and human rights. The weakening of the armed forces, judiciary, secular education, and police institutions are particularly troublesome. 6  VOICE OF ATATÜRK | FALL’09

Signs held by demonstrators said it all:


The Association to Support Contemporary Life


his year, Atatürk Society of America (ASA) celebrated May 19 with a fundraiser for Cagdas Yasami Destekleme Dernegi, also known as The Association to Support Contemporary Life (CYDD). CYDD is a non-profit organization in Turkey dedicated to providing scholarships and building schools and dormitories for secular education in under served areas in rural and urban parts of Turkey. CYDD schools and dormitories educate young girls who, alternatively, would be forced to become child brides as young as 12 due to circumstances and local customs. ASA Founding Member and Treasurer Mirat Yavalar provided an overview of the significance of May 19, and accentuated Turkey’s drift from Atatürk’s principles. She drew attention to the importance of CYDD as an organization and extension of Atatürk’s work, including providing information on Dr. Turkan Saylan, the recently deceased founder of CYDD. Ms. Yavalar then introduced Dr. Canan Aritman, the guest speaker for the event. Dr. Canan Aritman is an outspoken member of Parliament from the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), and staunch supporter of women’s rights, secularism, and democracy in Turkey. A gynecological surgeon by training from Izmir, she is Founding Member and two year General Secretary of Atatürk Secular Associations, and Founding Member of Kemalist Secular Association and Member of Atatürk Principles Association. Dr. Aritman’s presentation highlighted Atatürk’s emancipation of women in Turkey, the role of women in the early days of the Republic, and contrasted progress made under Atatürk with the erosion of women’s education, stature, and power in the last decade. Parla Duman, a Turkish American from New Jersey who completed a summer internship in the U.S. Congress, spoke on behalf of Turkey’s and Turkish American youth. She pointed out that Atatürk bestowed May 19 as a holiday to commemorate the youth, and how this

has had a positive impact on generations. During her visit to the United States, ASA secured appointments for Dr. Aritman with State Department representatives, as well as several Members of Congress interested in U.S.-Turkish relations. Her presentations enlightened decision makers on little known aspects of Turkey. ASA organized meetings between Dr. Aritman and Turkish American organizations in Florida and New York. On leaving the United States, Dr. Aritman was exceedingly pleased with her visit, and the insights she both gained and shared with her interlocutors.

ASA's Vice President Filiz Odabas-Geldiay personally presented the donation check to Prof. Dr. Filiz Mericli, Chairperson of the Foundation of Association for Contemporary Living, in CYDD's headquarters in Istanbul, Turkey. Prof. Mericli greatly appreciated the support Turkish Americans gave to CYDD to continue its mission to educate Turkish girls and boys in line with Atatürk's ideals and principles.



Village School in Anatolia Receives its First Piano From Atatürk Society of America (ASA)


SA donated a piano to the Kizilkoy elementary and middle school in Tokat, Turkey, which feeds from five villages and serves roughly 200 students. For the first time, students had access to a multi-string instrument and classic music device. Atatürk promoted progress through contemporary music and aimed to build bridges between modern Turkey and the secular western world through Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart. As Kemal Atatürk stated, “A population without music and the arts lacks one of its most important arteries.” The school Administration and student body were overjoyed by the donation. Thank you notes and pictures poured in. The village inhabitants came by to see the new instrument at the school which they all heard about. As Principal Omer Gezer wrote, “On behalf of myself, my teachers, students and parents, I thank you for the piano and for all the contributions you will make to our school which will introduce and help our students love the arts.” Do you think ASA should donate additional music instruments to underfunded schools around Turkey?

Kizilkoy students with the ASA-donated piano.

❝ Does one need music in life? No, music is not needed in life. Because life itself is music. Any being not having interest in music is not human. If one is talking of human life, the music is obsolutely there.

No life is possible without music anyway.

— Kemal Atatürk (1925 )


Atatürk’s Conversion of the Hagia Sophia into a Museum “We must carry out the dictates of civilization. We draw our strength from civilization, scholarship and science and are guided by them.“ – Kemal Atatürk


ne of the most visited museums in Istanbul is the Hagia Sophia, built as a church by Byzantine Emperor Justinian and for more than 900 years, remained as the most important building in the Eastern Christian world. It was the seat of the Orthodox patriarch, and the central church of the Byzantine emperors. Chosen as a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1985, the Ottoman Turks led by Sultan Mehmet II conquered then-Constantinople and the church in 1453, and the building was converted into a mosque, serving as the principal mosque of Istanbul for almost 500 years. One of the greatest surviving examples of Byzantine architecture, it is rich with mosaics and marble pillars and coverings. At the end of the Ottoman Empire, there was hope that this world wonder would be converted back into a Christian Church. Grace Ellison, an English journalist who once interviewed Atatürk and became a great admirer, met with Pope Pius XI during the time in which the Lausanne treaty

was being discussed, to seek his support and allay his concerns regarding the fate of the Christian minorities. She later published a book titled “An English Woman in Ankara.” Through Ellison, Pius XI suggested that it would be a “beau gest” or nice gesture to the Christian world to convert the Hagia Sophia back into a church. Atatürk replied “If the Christian Church was monolithic, even though the Hagia Sophia has become a part of our Muslim heritage, it may have been possible. Yet since the Christian Church is so divided, it is not possible. It would encourage the Russians, Greeks, and Anglicans to fight each other on our soil for the Hagia Sophia.” In other words, the “beau gest” suggested would lead to unending misunderstandings and conflict instead of peace. He added, “We are so prepared to do what we can to show respect to Christianity before the entire world, so that if by maintaining the Hagia Sophia as a mosque would indeed be an insult to the Catholic Church, we will either turn it into a museum or close it

entirely. No one should be given the opportunity to say that we willingly insulted the Catholic Church.” Atatürk always declared his tolerance towards all religions, and stated that Catholics and all Christians as well as those of the Jewish faith have always lived in his country experiencing religious tolerance. In December 2008, the Smithsonian magazine dedicated a story to “SAVING HAGIA SOPHIA,” where it states that instead of closing the Hagia Sophia, Atatürk affirmed “This should be a monument for all civilization.” In a radical move at the time, and coinciding with the 1934 visit of then-Greek President Eleftherios Venizelos, the Hagia Sophia became the world’s first mosque to be converted into a museum. President Venizelos wrote a letter to the Swedish Nobel Prize Nominating Committee nominating Atatürk for a Nobel Peace Prize. Today, scores of tourists visit the structure every year, described by a sixth-century historian as a “marvelous beauty, overwhelming to those who see it.” FALL’09 | VOICE OF ATATÜRK  9


Adulteration of National Identity The Republic is the rise of a nation from a multinational empire brought to its knees ❝ after decades of wars interrupted only by short intervals. The loss of life and treasures for Metin Camcigil* n October 29 Turkey celebrates her national day, the founding of the Republic. The Republic is the rise of a nation from a multinational empire brought to its knees after decades of wars interrupted only by short intervals. The loss of life and treasures for retrieving the nation from the jaws of the Western colonial powers were enormous. The success was not crowned by reviving and reinstating the inapt theocratic regime of 600 years, but by founding a Republic. Constitutions are collective birth certificates, genetic maps, identification


documents of the people who shed their blood to own their land, and organized to live and prosper in social peace forever. Constitutions are traditionally called a Social Contract. The Turkish Constitution also reflects Turks’ historical experiences and peculiarities. These characteristics and principles may be summarized as follows: democracy (people’s sovereignty), republican regime (representational system and separation of powers), secularism (laic style), respect for human rights, nationalism (unitary state based on common history, common destiny, common language and culture), social peace and justice (respect

retrieving the nation from the jaws of the Western colonial powers were enormous.

for law), and progressiveness (the objective of joining the contemporary civilization). These core principles of the Turkish Constitution are also principles respected by the free world; but the current administration calls the Constitution a military one, not a civilian or democratic one. There is no reason for celebration of this Republic if its original core values are abandoned or changed. In fact, Turks must be celebrating another republic this year, a republic in transformation for some time. The characteristics, priorities, identity and principles of the nation underwent a dramatic change. The Republic is no longer the same as it was at its inception. Although the efforts to reflect the changes in the Constitution are currently underway, we can presently identify the changes.

From secularity to religiosity

Beginning approximately in 1945 (the end of WWII and the beginning of the pluralist politics in Turkey) the Republic’s original principles became election tools for political parties. First to be manipulated was secularism. Education of religion started with the introduction of classes on religion in 1949, which escalated under the current Islamist regime to thousands of educational institutions ranging from Koran courses to universities to indoctrinate the people. Imam diplomas are recognized for public service. Then there was the relegation of women to a lower social status under the pretense of false religious traditions. Women’s distinguishing apparel and discrimination in social events are wide spread. One third of girls are not given a chance for education. Such practices were not achieved by changing laws but by exerting social pressure, and simultaneously branding secularism as atheism and fascism. Under the pretense of freedom of religion the current administration is engaged in a 10  VOICE OF ATATÜRK | FALL’09

social engineering to Islamicize the country. The Constitutional Court found in a historic judgment in 2008 that the current administration and the ruling party are in breach of the Constitution at least so far as the secularity of its actions is concerned.

From democracy to autocracy

Next to be diluted was the representational system. Although elections still exist, they are so skewed that we cannot speak of fair representation of people and of a public will. Public dissent is suppressed. The recent use of the judiciary and the law enforcement to suppress dissent (from the prosecution of a 14 year old boy to the head of a political party), or to force dissenting big businesses to surrender their business to party supporters are glaring examples. Under the pretense of democratization, laws have been changed or introduced to enable awarding government contracts to family members or to cronies. The ruling party surrogates now control most television and radio stations. The remainder of the media is kept under constant law suits filed by the ruling party. Police force and the public prosecutors keep not only individuals, the media, businesses and the academia under surveillance, but also the judiciary (including constitutional court members) and the military. Human rights are no longer respected. The general appearance is such that there are all the indications of a police state. In fact, the highest official of the country publicly stated that “the State’s well being is in the hands of the police force”, not in those of the people or even of the judiciary. This has been achieved by inundating the police force with the elements of a very powerful international religious movement called Gulen (which ironically translates into English as “laughing”). Gulen is also the spiritual leader and the mentor of the ruling party. Their common policy aspires to the Ottoman leadership of the Muslim world. Although the government tries to play it both ways, its political and business ties to the Muslim countries led the people to gradually turn its back to the West and embrace the Islamic brotherhood.

From unity to divisiveness

Finally, the constitutional characteristic of nationalism is on its way out. Turkish nationalism, defined in the Constitution as for security and unity of the state, is now branded as fascism; while Kurdish ethnic activism is encouraged as a democratic action. If there was a nationalist ideology in Turkey at all, there is now an ethnic ideology in addition to a religious one. The constitutional principle of social peace is defeated. A unitary state has become questionable. Ethnic separation is discussed as a solution to the ethnic terrorism that claimed tens of thousands of lives and billions of dollars in funds in twenty-five years.

A debased constitution

The Constitution, as it was conceived, can no longer stand. Its foundational pillars are demolished. It is emptied out of its substance, its characteristics, and its identity. There is still a nation, of course, but it identifies and characterizes itself differently. Therefore, one might ask what Turks are celebrating this year: The demolition of the original Republic built by the blood and callused hands of their forefathers, or a new one to be written under the spell of religion and of terrorism? Turkey seems to have lost its rudder in the pluralist political

storm. There seems to exist an uncertainty in Turkish national will, national unity, and national identity. A divided and confused society can no longer take control of its own affairs (democracy); the administration fills in the vacuum and takes charge with an iron fist (autocracy).

US guidance as the leader for democracy and for people’s rights

The present Turkish administration is in denial of the erosion of the Republic’s values. They explain it away with dissimulation typical to Islamic tradition. They reinterpret secularism, democracy, nationalism. The US, the promoter of democracy around the world, seems not only to accept these false explanations, but also to support them actively. One example of the US’ active contribution to Turkish Islamization is its sheltering of a follower of the Kurdish Sheik Saidi-Kurdi. A self-made cleric called Gulen operates out of the US to spread the concept of a peaceful Islam under the cover of interfaith dialogue. The CIA is reported (and not denied) to provide financial support to the group for the ill-conceived idea that Islam would be a deterrent to Russian expansion and to Islamic terrorism. Several investigative reports published about the worldwide network of the Gulen group reveal that his continued on page 12 FALL’09 | VOICE OF ATATÜRK  11


should be called back to prepare a report on the Gulen operation. Gulen’s hidden but true objective is to stealthily creep Islamic values into the fabric of the world politics under the disguise of interfaith reconciliation. Statements or actions of Islamists are no indicators of their real and underlying objective (dissimulation). The objective of this movement is clearly not to modernize Islam but to Islamize modernity, be it without violence.

Most scholars in the field suggest that the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire was basically due to autocratic administration, corruption, and incessant foreign interference.

continued from page 11 apostles operate in 55 countries about 250 schools from elementary to university level, hospitals, and numerous mosques. In Turkey he operates about 1000 foundations, schools from elementary to university level, dormitories, mosques, businesses, including a bank and an insurance company, and numerous media outlets. In 27 US states 57 such non-profit organizations are active (being tax-exempt we all contribute to their undesirable activities). A grandiose mosque and a “cultural” center will be built on 60 hectares in the Washington area. The group lobbies the Congress and the administration, and has gained considerable backing from several politicians, retired ambassadors, and academics. In other words, the Gulen group operates in the US like the Saudi ‘Rabita-tul Alem-ul Islam’ operated prior to J. Woolsey’s excellent report in 2006. It was only because of the 9/11 disaster that Saudi operation in the US was finally busted, including the repatriation of the ambassador who was very influential at the highest levels of Washington political circles. J. Woolsey

Many Islamic and political leaders publicly pronounced that there is no moderate or un-moderate Islam, there is Islam. An

interfaith reconciliation is wool over the eyes of infidels, while pulling the carpet from under “them”. Their advantage is that the loudest voice, the most aggressive, and the one most financially powerful will have the last word in democracy; “Despotism of democracy”, in the words of De Tocqueville. They are well aware that promoting religiosity in democracy is killing democracy in the name of democracy. Recent proposals by some naïve politicians and even church officials in England, Germany, and Switzerland to allow Sharia law to be applied to their Muslim citizens are glaring examples of the creeping Islamization of Europe. The US is clearly preparing the Kurds for statehood, presumably with the expectation that a Kurdish state in the region would bolster the containment of Iran as well as the security of Israel and of Iraq oil. There may also be the consideration that the US is indebted to Kurds for the support they rendered in the Iraq war. And then, there has always been hypocrisy on the question of nationalism. A Kurdish independence is encouraged on the premise of democracy, all the while not supporting the Cypriot Turkish national independence from the discriminatory and oppressive Greek community. Nationalism in the US is called patriotism, in Europe Nazism, in Ireland separatism, in Srilanka terrorism, etc. In reality it is defined and used as a tool for international political ends.

The true guide

Most scholars in the field suggest that the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire was basically due to autocratic administration, corruption, and incessant foreign interference. The similar current state of affairs must certainly be a wakeup call for Turks. They need to take matters into their own hands, defend their constitutional values, and save democracy from democracy itself. They must also realize that the foreign support given to Kurdish nationalism in breach of international principles gives Turks an equal right to rise and defend their own nationalism. w September 2009, Metin Camcigil, Former President of the Atatürk Society of America. 12  VOICE OF ATATÜRK | FALL’09


Open Letter To Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan As a political scientist and German parliamentarian of Turkish origin, I found the ❝ need to write this open letter to you to express my deep concern for the developments in

our beautiful country, Turkey. I hope that it will be seriously considered! Dr. Hakki Keskin, former German Parliamentarian


y Dear Prime Minister: I can’t say I was pleased when you won the 2002 elections and later became Prime Minister. Yet I sincerely defended your right to use your luck which the results of the election provided. And I made clear to my friends that the suspicion they had, either rightfully or wrongfully should be experienced. For this reason I did not agree with the requests for early elections, and supported the reforms and economic policies your government undertook in the early years. I openly express this position in my books published in German in 2005 and 2006. I expressed this view, as a Kemalist with a leftist world view that secularism is the most important cement in the country. Some of my friends who shared my world view said I was wrong, and time would tell. Truthfully I have increasingly seen that my friends who said I was wrong have been correct, especially considering policy which you have undertaken since the beginning of 2007. In my opinion, the greatest mistake you and your party have made is to drive the Turkish public into a very deep polarization. I don’t yet want to believe that you are doing so knowingly and willingly. Yet this is the situation in our country, and your government is responsible for it. As a result of this ultimately worrisome development, the pressure and intimidation policies implemented in absence of democratic and unlawful systems against Turkey’s lawful and patriotic citizens, can not ever be accepted. We clearly see that under the name “Ergenekon”, and in the framework of “judicial operations,” the real purpose is for educators who criticize your government,

members of the media, those that defend secular and modernity are charged with things they do not deserve, detentions, even those that are detained for reasons unknown. You should not doubt that this very soon will be clearly seen by the public in the western countries. As it is clearly seen, these pressures are retaliation and vengeance implemented by supporters of a Sharia state against true Atatürk supporters, enlightened, and secular people. Let there be no doubt that no one would object to legally undertaking steps against military or civilian persons who in the past or currently have been involved with illegal activities. However, it is the greatest injustice to charge under “Ergenekon” allegations of coup plotters, racist nationalism and murderers who would never come together in ideology, political or ethnic values. These practices are purposefully carried out on behalf of a judiciary which is said to be independent in the framework of seeking revenge. If these operations are carried out as asserted by an independent jury, then it is very clear that these practices are in no way compatible with a truly lawful state. A lawful state would never permit the phones of hundreds of thousands of people to be tapped without a court order. Without a judge’s order, no one’s home can be searched, without specific evidence, no one can be taken from their beds at midnight and paraded in front of invited media representatives and receive the treatment afforded to thugs. A lawful state would never permit such practice. If Turkey is claiming that it is a truly lawful state, then these actions are unlawful. But if these practices are carried out in

accordance with current laws, then the laws are not compatible with a truly lawful and democratic state. The search of Professor Turkan Saylan’s home, whose efforts are to provide education opportunities for children and youth who may otherwise not have those opportunities, the questioning of the Association of Contemporary Life’s directors, even their arrest, the questioning of media representatives as if they were criminals, such as if the 83 year old respected journalist Ilhan Selcuk, is in no way compatible with the understanding of a lawful state. I would like to make this clear as a political scientist and political observer: This situation which our Turkey finds itself in can carry our country into an extremely suspicious situation which you would in no way like to be in. It is firstly your responsibility to save Turkey from this polarization and provide again social and political peace hastily. Again, it is one of your and your government’s prime responsibilities to demonstrate virtue and tolerance, and show that it is not a crime to criticize you or your government, but in contrast, a citizen’s right and responsibility, protecting them from unjust and unjustified accusations, even if they are your political adversaries, enlightened, contemporary and secular thinking writers, journalists, educators, civil society and career organizations. I am inviting you to quickly, and without further delay, to take measures necessary for the Turkish public to live in health, peace, brotherhood, and to end this polarization. Believe me that you will be the one who benefits most from this. Respectfully yours, Prof. Dr. Hakki Keskin FALL’09 | VOICE OF ATATÜRK  13

The Turkish Republic’s Thirst for Western Culture - Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, 1936

By Arnold Reisman, PhD, PE mong the prominent statesmen of the twentieth century, few articulated the supreme importance of culture as did Atatürk. His view encompassed the nation’s creative legacy as well as the best values of world civilization as it stressed personal and universal humanism. “Culture,” he said, “is a basic element in being a person worthy of humanity,” and he described Turkey’s ideological thrust as “a creation of patriotism blended with a lofty humanist ideal.” The Republic of Turkey began creating a permanent infrastructure for modern performing arts while building a viable economy, modernizing the very fabric of its rural, Islamic, traditional society, and it attempted to recover from the widespread destruction due to years of warfare on its soil. Western polyphonic music, theater, ballet, and opera were recognized as being among the necessary pillars in its modernization, westernization, and nation-building program.1



❝ Culture is the foundation of the Turkish Republic.

To create the best synthesis, Atatürk underlined the need to utilize all viable elements in the national heritage, excluding most of the Ottoman elements, while including ancient indigenous cultures and the arts and techniques of the entire world’s past and present civilizations. He also stressed the folk arts of the countryside as the wellspring of Turkish creativity. He gave impetus to the study of the earlier civilizations of Anatolia—including Hittite, Phrygian, and Lydian. Pre-Islamic culture of the Turks became the subject of extensive research which proved that long before their Seljuk and Ottoman empires, the Turks had created a civilization of their own.

Atatürk’s Plan for Cultural Transformation Atatürk and other founders of the Republic reviled much of their Ottoman heritage. While building a new nation-state they rejected everything that was part of the

Ottoman era, especially its culture. They sought to uncover, learn from, and identify with earlier civilizations that had once lived and flourished on Anatolian soil. They were seeking roots for their nation-building agenda that would replace the rejected Ottoman legacy. 2 During the 1920s, Turkey witnessed a maelstrom of radical reforms. With the abolition of the caliphate on March 3, 1924, the country took giant steps to become a secular state with all its ramifications. 3 According to Dr. Orhan Tekelioglu, The leaders of Turkey’s “founding period” simply wanted to create an identity for the modern Turk; they had an urgent need to protect Turkey by propelling her immediately into the twentieth century. When we consider the history of Anatolia, we recognize what an incredible collage of cultures and background it is composed of and how problematic it was for our leaders in establishing a modern national and homogeneous identity to unite their people. 4 Also on that date another revolutionary law aiming at unification, standardization, and secularization of the educational institutions (Tevhid-i Tedrisat kanunu) was passed.5 This law closed the religious schools and attached all educational institutions to the Ministry of National Education.6 Several other reforms in education quickly followed. The Latin-based alphabet mandated by law on November 1, 1928, increased literacy rather quickly and significantly. 7 The Arabic script had always been difficult for the average citizen to master, since the alphabet characters change shape depending on their position within the word. Furthermore, the alphabet was deemed unsuitable for Turkish because it was incompatible with both the vowels and consonants of the language and closely identified with the

Quran—a fact that didn’t meld with a secular state. Rather than returning to the Göktürk/ Orkhon or the Uygur alphabets which preceded Arabic among the Turkic people of Central Asia, the Republic’s fathers chose a modified form of the Latin alphabet. In this matter, modernization and integration with the West prevailed over Turkish heritage considerations. In their nationalist zeal, they tried to purge all Arabic words and expressions; therefore, new words and expressions having Turkic roots had to be created to fill the void. Along with the new alphabet, new music, and performing arts genres, Western genres were introduced and institutionalized. The performing arts a vital yet under-stressed aspect of European cultural imperialism was willingly invited and accepted by the Turkish government. It had a profound impact upon Turkey’s society. 8 Changing the alphabet made a return to the past extremely difficult, and the journey forward irreversible. As a result of this new alphabet, the written and spoken words in the Turkish language were no longer at odds with each other. 10 The founders’ visions encompassed almost every aspect of life from religion, which was separated from the state, to education, which was secularized and modernized, to culture, which was crosspollinated with Western elements. The aim was not merely to modernize the society but to transform it by engaging in nation building from the inside out and outside in simultaneously. According to The New York Times circa November 18, 1928, Turkey’s reformers railed against the Arabic language as antiquated, stifling, and un-Turkish. They promoted the benefits to be gained by the Turkish people and their culture from using the Latin alphabet. One of the most significant improvements occurred when Parliament passed the University Reform Law No. 2252 on May 31, 1933. This law abolished the İstanbul Darülfünun, an early twentieth-century university, which previously had been a nineteenth century academy of higher learning based on the Islamic tradition derived from the medieval medrese.12 Thus began the revision of Turkey’s system of higher education, including the arts. When the Darülfünun was closed, 157

of its 240 faculty members were relieved of their duties and forced into retirement.13 This reform was the result of a three-year effort initiated in 1931, with an invitation to Swiss Professor Albert Malché (1876-1956) to observe and evaluate the current Turkish educational system and propose a plan for modernization. He evaluated the Darülfünun and his report was used as the basis for the implementation of reforms. Certainly, the influence of the political party in power had an impact on his final report. 14 When some Darülfünun professors criticized the regime’s official views in matters of history and language, two fundamental aspects of the young Republic’s politics of culture, during the deliberations of the First Turkish History Congress in 1932, they were perceived as obstacles to the cultural reforms. 15 Except for a few figures who later obtained important positions in the subsequently established universities, 16 most of the scholars who had been dismissed from their positions as part of the 1933 reform found themselves outside of the Republican establishment. In retrospect, Professor Sabri M. Akural summarized the reformas: “Secularism was the cornerstone on which all other Kemalist reforms were built. It is the most salient and fundamental aspect of Kemalism.” 17 Ten years after the introduction of the new alphabet, the Times reported: Influenced by the musical ideas of Ziya

Gökalp (1876-1924), 19 Atatürk soon formulated a national policy on music which was to use the Western-developed polyphonic technique. According to Dr. Orhan Tekelioglu, who has researched the impact of Western music on Turkey’s modernization: 20 What the new musical elite ultimately hoped for was a birth in the Turkish listener of the enjoyment of polyphonic music … which, it was assumed, the “modern” Western listener had already acquired. New cultural policies were built around the expectation that, along with an enjoyment of polyphonic music that was to gradually grow in the nation and with the contributions of Turkish performers and gifted composers trained abroad in the Western style, the ancient Anatolian melodies beloved of the people would eventually be recomposed along polyphonic lines. The new identity that the young Republic wanted to create for its people was that of a modern, European-oriented, secular society whose members considered themselves to be primarily Turks. The opening of Istanbul University in 1933 was followed by the creation of several institutions dedicated to the arts. Among these were the Conservatory of Music and the Academy of Fine Arts. Without the safe haven provided the émigré professors who played developmental roles, continued on page 16 FALL’09 | VOICE OF ATATÜRK  15

it might have taken decades for these institutions to become established and just as long for the quality of the talent pool produced to reach the high levels that it attained. 22

A tragedy turned into an opportunity The Turkish Government’s plans for education and other societal reforms were too ambitious for immediate implementation as the country lacked the trained human resources needed to implement these plans. Fortunately for the Turks, a window of opportunity opened as result of Nazism’s rise in the West. The sudden availability of many prominent musical and performing artists created an opportunity for Turkey to prosper in the arts, while saving lives. Several eminent professionals, who found themselves at great risk in their homeland, were invited to Turkey by its government to help create a self-sustaining performing arts infrastructure. They were among nearly two hundred intellectuals, scientists, medical professionals, and arts luminaries expelled from Nazi-controlled Europe who were selected to help implement Turkey’s overall nation-building plans. Because Germany had denuded its professorial ranks of some of the very best intellects, and because the émigrés specialized in a wide range of sciences and professions, İstanbul University, compared to other universities in Europe, had the greatest number of faculty who were immigrants. It was widely considered “the best German University in the world.” 23 Securing good talent was easy because Turkey remained neutral between the Soviet Union, the democratic countries, and the Nazis. The Nazis were looking for chits, or IOUs, to be used in their militarist and expansionist plans. Turkey controlled the naval routes to the Black and Mediterranean seas and was rich in strategic materials that Germany needed, such as chromium and textiles. The power of Turkey’s position was confirmed when she was able to obtain the release of two individuals she needed 24 from concentration camps and have them moved with their families to the Turkish safe haven. In contrast to academic scholars and medical professionals who had few options when faced with Nazi persecutions, many 16  VOICE OF ATATÜRK | FALL’09

performing artists were welcomed by American cultural institutions, and their arrival elevated their host organizations to new heights. Beginning in 1933, the United States benefited greatly from European, mostly Jewish, talent in the performing arts. However, their impact was part of an evolution, whereas in Turkey, it marked the complete structural transformation of its culture. With no world-class musical ensembles, ballet, or opera companies in the Western sense, Turkey was at a competitive disadvantage,

yet she prevailed in attracting people like composer/musicologist Paul Hindemith (1895-1963) and opera impresario Carl Ebert (1887-1980). Over time, Turkish artists and artisans developed styles uniquely Turkish and universal, blending together the traditional styles of the East with the practices of the West. Turkey’s deliberate decision to integrate Western culture in its emerging academic infrastructure resulted in significant social and economic consequences that are still gaining strength today. w

REFERENCES 1. See Orhan Tekelioglu, “Modernizing Reforms and Turkish Music in the 1930s.” Turkish Studies, (Spring 2001) pp 93-108 and Orhan Tekelioglu, “The Rise of a Spontaneous Synthesis: The Historical Background of Turkish Popular Music” Middle Eastern Studies, Vol. 32, No2 (April 1996) pp194-216. 2. For excellent discussions of Turkey’s cultural transformation see: Andrew Mango The Turks Today. (New York: The Overlook Press, 2004.) and Bernard Lewis , The Emergence of Modern Turkey (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001) 3. See Dilek Barlas, Turkey in the 1930s: Internal Reforms and External Orientation. Encounters on the Bosphorus: Turkey During WWII. Proceedings of the International Conference in Wroclaw and Krzyzowa Poland, (Krzyzowa, Poland: Fundacja “Krzyzowa” dla Porozumienia Europejskiego, 2008.) pp 23-33. 4. Nelleke M. v.d.Schoor-Basar, Dr. Orhan Tekelioglu, Freedom of Expression and Preference: An interview with the Turkish Daily News, 5. It should be noted that at the time of Turkey’s becoming a Republic in 1923 it had inherited only seven individuals with a Ph.D. degree, six in chemistry and one in mathematics. Erdal INONU, 1923-1966 Donemi.TURKIYE KIMYA ARASTIRMALARI BIBLIYOGRAFYASI ve bazý gozlemler, BUKE Kitaplarý, 2.baski, pages 107-108 (Nisan 2007). Erdal INONU, 1923-1966 Donemi TURKIYE MATEMATIK ARASTIRMALARI BIBLIYOGRAFYASDI ve Bazi Gözlemler, Orta Dogu Teknik Universitesi, Fen ve Edebiyat No.26, page 28 (1973). 6. Yasemin Karakaşoğlu,”Turkey,” in The Education Systems of Europe, ed. Wolfgang Hörner, Hans Döbert, Botho von Kopp, and Wolfgang Mitter (Amsterdam: Springer, 2007), 783-807. 7. Adoption of Latin alphabet increased the percentage of literacy in Turkey, from 9% in 1924 to 65% in 1975 to 82.3% in 1995. See Geoffrey Lewis, The Turkish Language Reform: A Catastrophic Success. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999). For an essay and 17 photos depicting the process of implementing the edict, see M. O. Williams, “Turkey Goes to School,” The National Geographic Magazine, (January 1929): 94–108. 8. See Reisman, A. (2008), “Some Current Ramifications of Turkey’s Change of Alphabet in 1928.” Working paper. 9. 10. Since lyrics and librettos were no longer translated into an unaccommodating language, Western dramatic arts became easier to adapt to Turkish audiences. 11. The young man to the left is dressed in folkloric costume of the Aegean and the captioning under the pictures states that the music is from the Aegean. Interestingly, both the old Arabic script and the new Turkish alphabet are used. This suggests a publication date of about 1928 as none is indicated. 12. Darülfünun means “house of arts and sciences.” 13. İlhan Elmacı, “Dr. Rudolph Nissen,” Journal of Neurological Sciences (Turkish) NOROL BIL D 18 (2001) 14. Atatürk, himself read the report and jotted down his own thoughts on university reform in the margins of the pages of the report. Atatürk’s notes are fascinating in that they address a number of issues which even today are topics of much debate, including the reconciliation of academic freedom and accountability, criteria for academic promotions, leadership role of the rector, common core curricula for various disciplines, key role of libraries and part-time jobs for students, etc. tr%2Fenglish%2Fpart1.doc&fr=ybr_sbc&, p3 15. İlhan Başgöz and Howard E. Wilson, Educational Problems in Turkey: 1920-1940 (Bloomington: Indiana University,1968) 16. İsmail Hakkı Baltacıoğlu, the famous pedagogue who was ousted from his post in Darülfünun in 1933, later became an adviser to Mustafa Kemal on religious reform. See Nazım İrem, “Turkish Conservative Modernism: Birth of a Nationalist Quest for Cultural Renewal,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 34 (2002): 87–112. 17. Sabri M. Akural “Kemalist Views on Social Change” in Jacob M. Landau ed. Atatürk and the Modernization of Turkey, (Boulder, CO. Westview Press 1984) p126 18. Moore Gates “New Turkey Keeps To Her Course” The New York Times November 27, 1938 19. Ziya Gökalp was a sociologist, poet, political writer, and a seminal advocate of Turkish nationalism. He advocated Turkification of the Ottoman Empire by imposing the Turkish language and culture onto all the citizenry. Gökalp contributed to shaping the reforms of Kemal Atatürk, he rejected Ottomanism and Islamism in favor of Turkish nationalism. In his Principles of Turkism Gökalp contended that Ottoman classical music was Byzantine in origin; this led to the state briefly banning Ottoman classical music from the radio in the 1930s, because Turkish folk music alone “represented the genius of the nation.” Houston, C. Islam, Kurds and the Turkish Nation State. Oxford : Berg Publishers, 2001. pg 39. As an interesting side note in light of the current Kurdish independence movements is the fact that Ziya Gökalp, who is the acknowledged father of Turkish nationalism, was of Kurdish origin. See: personal/publications/constructions_of_ethnic_identity.htm 20. Nelleke M. v.d.Schoor-Basar, Dr. Orhan Tekelioglu, Freedom of Expression and Preference: An interview with the Turkish Daily News, 21. A style of musical composition in which two or more independent melodies are juxtaposed in harmony, as opposed to the traditional monophonic music. 22. Fast forwarding to the present, culture is a major factor in Turkey’s tourism trade. And its tourism revenues (per-capita) exceed the total GNP (per-capita) of most Islamic countries including that of oil exporting, archeologically endowed, and climatically comparable, Iran. See Reisman, A. “Religion, Culture, and Economy: The case of modern Turkey.” Working paper (2008). 23. Extracted from statement of Mr. Onur Öymen, member of Grand Assembly of Turkey, at the Seminar on “Culture as a Weapon, Academicians in Exile” in Berlin on July 19, 2003. 24. One was pediatric and public health dentistry pioneer Alfred Kantorowicz. See Arnold Reisman, Turkey’s Modernization: Refugees from Nazism and Atatürk's Vision. (Washington, DC: New Academia Publishers, 2006): pp 33,165-167, 260, 261, 275, 322, 323, 327, 333-335, and 352. Another was Walter Gottschalk a library scientist who was sent out of occupied Belgium by special train because of an official request from the Turkish government. Reisman A. (2008), “A pioneer of Modern Library Science who was given a Turkish safe haven during the Nazi era” Working paper.

Türkan Saylan Türkan Saylan first of all devoted years to the development of modern Turkish ❝ women, and at the same time, as a highly educated academic, was a unique and

valuable Atatürk supporter who undertook exemplary and valuable work to benefit all of mankind. Unfortunately we lost her on May 18, 2009. It is of utmost importance for us to promote such an important person as a role model for future generations.


ürkan Saylan was born on December 13, 1935 during the in Istanbul during the winter. She graduated from elementary school in Kandilli in 1946, then from Kandilli High School in 1953. Later in 1963 she graduated from the Faculty of Medicine in Istanbul. After medical school, she received training on skin and venereal disease from 1964 to 1968 in the Nisantasi Social Security Hospital. At the end of her academic career, in 1968 she served as Chief Internist at the Dermatology Department at the Istanbul Medical Faculty, and after 1971 she continued her training in England. She participated in short term training sessions in France in 1974, and Britain in 1976. She earned the title as Associate Professor in 1972 and as Full Professor in 1977. She was no longer just Türkan Saylan, but became Professor Doctor Türkan Saylan. After that, Türkan Saylan began to work as a medical professional, and in addition to her academic training, she began tackling social problems. In 1976 she established the Society to Combat Leprosy. In 1986 she was awarded the International Gandhi Award in India, one of the greatest awards in that country. In addition, she served as Senior Advisor to the World Health Organization on Leprosy until 2006. On the other hand, she was a Founding Member of the International Leprosy Union, and a member of the European Dermatology Venerology Academy’s International Leprosy organization. From 1981 until 2002, in addition to her teaching duties at the university, she volunteered as Chief Internist at the Ministry of Health’s Istanbul Leprosy Hospital. She was also the President of the Istanbul

Medical Faculty Department of Dermatology between 1982 and 1987, and the President of the Istanbul Medical Faculty’s Leprosy Research and Application between the years 1981-2001. Prof. Dr. Türkan Saylan was a leader in the establishment of the Dermatopatology Laboratory, Behçet’s disease, and the Polyclinic on sexually transmitted communicable diseases. In addition, as the Project Coordinator of the National Leprosy Control Program, she was involved in their planning and implementation.

In addition to participating in social nonprofit associations and medical studies in parallel with her medical and academic pursuits, she began to be recognized as a

Kemalist intellectual. Türkan Saylan, who established the Association for Supporting Contemporary Life in 1989, also served as its General Chairman for many years. She became a founding member of the Teacher’s Association in 1990, and served as its second President. Türkan Saylan didn’t stop there. In 1990 she took a position at the Istanbul University Research and Application Center of Women’s Issues. She was also Assistant Director and Coordinator of Women’s Health Classes until 1995. She was the President and founder of the Culture and Education Foundation (KANKEV) at the Kandilli high school from which she graduated. She was a member of the Istanbul Medical Chamber and the Foundation for Protection of Children. After retirement, on March 31, 2000, she was appointed by President Demirel as a member of the Social Services Advisory Board. President Sezer appointed her to Higher Education Board between 2001 and 2007, and she was a member of the Prime Ministry’s Human Rights Advisory Board between 2003 and 2004. Throughout her career, Prof. Dr Türkan Saylan was published in 50 foreign medical journals, wrote articles in 204 social and medical content publications, 186 research papers in conferences and Turkish medical journals, for a total of 440 publications. In addition to these, Dr Türkan SAYLAN’ wrote the following textbooks, Step in Health Care Skin and Venereal Diseases Manual (5 editions); Horse Girl about children, a compilation of articles, An Individual in the Republic, Contemporary Issues in the Republic Radio program; The Sun Now is continued on page 23 FALL’09 | VOICE OF ATATÜRK  17

M. K. Atatürk: Patron of the Arts


Fine arts painting did not begin in what is now Turkey until the late 19th century and ❝ as of 1923 the founding of the Republic, Turkish painters mostly graduates of the military By Arnold Reisman, PhD, PE tatürk was a man of many dimensions. Among them are; warrior, visionary, revolutionary, leader, nation builder, and statesman. Of his many attributes the least known at least in the English speaking world is the fact that he was a patron of the arts. But even here the usual and customary definition of the phrase needs enlargement in scope. As applied to Atatürk the descriptor requires many dimensions not typically found in any one patron, and arts history has not recorded an individual that can be described by the entire set of these dimensions or attributes. He was a collector indeed. Many of the paintings in the permanent collection of the Museum of Turkish Painting and Sculpture at the Dolmahbace Palace 2 would not be there except for his personal intervention to have them acquired during the 1920s and 30s. He provided finances to artists by commissioning major sculptures. He had academies of arts and conservatories of polyphonic music founded. But he did more than that. He created an infrastructure for modern fine arts and sculpture in a society that for over over four centuries prohibited depiction of the human body in three dimensions and frowned at doing so on canvas or paper. Although a highly developed art form during the time of the Seljuks sculpture did not exist in what is now Turkey during the Ottoman era that followed the Seljuks. So the Ottomans left no heritage, good or bad, when it comes to sculpture. Fine arts painting did not begin in what is now Turkey until the late 19th century and as of 1923 the founding of the Republic, Turkish painters mostly graduates of the military academies were woefully behind European practice. The year 1923 was a watershed year for



academies were woefully behind European practice.

Turkish arts and especially for sculpture. All Islamic prohibitions on art were summarily cast off. What was forbidden became encouraged, supported, and nurtured. After lying dormant for centuries, sculpture was reborn in the land of the Seljuks and Hittites. In addition to sending several of the top performing Academy students abroad for further education, foreign master sculptors were invited to Turkey. While these outside influences nourished artistic awareness, a new artistic environment was created. “Art awareness” articles published in various newspapers and magazines increased communication between sculptors and the public, heightening interest in this art form. To continue encouraging artists as well as the public, Atatürk established competitions and various awards for sculpture, opened new art schools at the secondary level, created academies, teacher training institutes, museums, state exhibitions and galleries. The Halkevi (People’s House) system, instruments of Atatürk’s reforms, opened many cultural centers across the length and breadth of Turkey. The Halkevis offered courses in art appreciation, sculpting, painting, music, theatre, literature, and folk dancing.

REVITALIZING FINE ARTS PAINTING IN TURKEY In 1936, Leopold Levy a French academic painter was given an appointment at the Fine Arts Academy’s painting department. His mission was to breath new life into the somewhat stilted milieu of contemporary Turkish art. By the time he came to Turkey, western painters had long gone through Surrealism, Cubism, and many other “isms” of varying importance and lasting influence. With Levy as a catalyst, the Turks

skipped much of the development process, and arrived at their own contemporary style through learning and creating. His effect upon the work of that generation of young artists soon became apparent. As the Academy’s director until the end of 1949, he was instrumental in developing the Turkish school of modern painting. 3 This influence was then shared with subsequent generations of students. Levy’s genius had not been lost, but was saved for all who are interested in art history and the artists who made significant contributions.

The first generation of Levy educated painters Levy’s students founded the New Group (Yeniler Grubu) at the Academy of Fine Arts in Istanbul. These artists experimented with new styles and techniques. Although initially their focus dealt with social issues, as time passed they moved away from the the highly realistic styles that prevailed in Soviet Russia. Following World War II, Turkey’s ties to Europe had declined. American architecture and painting came to have a greater influence on the Turkish arts scene. During this period, Turkey’s first modern art movement, the “D Group” rejected the principles of earlier movements, especially the 1914 Generation, in favor of Post-Cubism and Constructivist painting. 4 It should be recognized that in the history of western art, Cubism was a particularly influential movement during the early part of the twentieth century. In the context of the development of modern Turkish painting, however, the roles played by its interpretation and application are rather different. In the prevailing artistic milieu understanding (or at least claiming to understand) Cubism

and applying it were regarded as badges of “being in.” The D Group, was founded in September 1933 to lead Turkish art to a state of “being in” with that of the West. The group was founded by Nurullah Berk (1906–1982) and Çemal Tollu (1899–1968), and included Elif Naci (1898–1987) and Abidin Dino (1913–1993). It was instrumental not only in starting the debate over Cubism in contemporary Turkish art, but also in sustaining it for quite some time. It was the systematic effort of the D Group that advanced Cubism as a solution to the problems of modernizing Turkish art. The D group movement was in turn followed by the On’lar Grubu (The Group Ten) founded in 1947 by the students of Bedri Rahmi Eyuboglu (1913-1975). It added folkloric ornaments in their works as well as a freshness to the art milieu. The group included: Mustafa Esirkus (1921-1989), Nedim Gunsur (1924-1994), Turan Erol (1927-), Fikret Otyam (1926-), Orhan Peker (1927-1978), Mehmet Pesen (1923-), Adnan Varinca (1918-), and Leyla Gamsiz (1921-). 5 Many of these artists exhibited abroad and won coveted prizes in the finest international juried shows.

DEVELOPMENT OF SCULPTURE: THE REPUBLICAN ERA As part of the nation-building agenda, archaeological excavations called “National Excavations” were initiated with the objective of unearthing the sculptural heritage of former civilizations. Excavation led to the discovery of sites, dating back to 8000 B.C. Sites in the Yasemic region were especially rich in artifacts documenting that sculpture was an integral part of those civilizations. Statues in this region bear strong evidence of specialization and a high degree of skill. In Alacahoyuk, Kalin Kaya, Bogazkoy, and Tilmen, workshops dating back to 2000 B.C. excavated in 1926, indicated highly developed forms of sculpture. These findings were heavily exploited by the government in its nation-building agenda as they documented that ancient civilizations had Turkic roots. This in turn, expanded the thematic horizons of many artists and especially of Turkey’s early sculptors.

Nemrut Mountain archeolocial site statues.6

Ankara University professor Metin And9 has documented several speeches and articles that highlight Atatürk’s commitment to implementing a national policy of reforms regarding sculpture. “Any nation in the world which wants to be civilized, progressive, and perfect in every way is found to produce sculptors and to make statues. Those who claim that erecting statues as memorials of history is against the laws of Islam are those who have not studied their Islamic canon law…. Our nation, which is both religious and enlightened will develop the art of sculpture, which is one of the means of progress, and will declare this to the whole world by erecting in every corner of the country.” Atatürk, 1923 10 To this end, five world-renowned sculptors were invited to Turkey to create the statues and monuments that would depict heroes and historic events, but above all represent the Republican ideology. All of the five designed and created massive statues and memorials. However, only one of them, Rudolf Belling, instructed many of the students who would become the future sculptors of the Turkish Republic and move on into the international arena as world class artists.

In all walks of cultural life, Atatürk’s inspiration created an upsurge. In only eight decades public sculpture, previously unheard of anywhere in Turkey, is now everywhere. During the 85 year period, the city of Ankara alone accumulated over 250 significant outdoor istallations.11 Most of them depict the human figure or other living creatures.

Public Art: Sculptors invited from abroad According to art critic Burcu Pelvanoğlu,12 the sculptures that began appearing in public places in the early years of the republic were primarily statues and monuments of Atatürk, as well as the other founding fathers of the republic. And at first, because of this, the idea of sculpture and the works themselves became associated with monuments, especially with those of Atatürk. Ideologically this made it easier for the average citizen to accept both the concept and the reality of sculpture. Once the idea of sculpture took hold and the inauguration of monuments became more common, sculpture installations in public places became part of the scenery. Abstract sculptures began to continued on page 20 FALL’09 | VOICE OF ATATÜRK  19

Atatürk’s mausoleum and the first generation of Turkish sculptors

Zeus Head: Mount Nemrut, (Nemrut Dagi in Turkish)7

appear as artists learned more about western styles of sculpting and schools of thought. The sculptors invited to Turkey and initially responsible for the surge in statuary were Heinrich Krippel (1883-1945) and Anton Hanak (1875-1934), from Austria, Pietro Canonica (1869-1959) from Italy, and Germans Josef Thorak (1889-1953) and Rudolf Belling (1886-1972).

Heinrich Krippel13 , Statue of Atatürk in Sarayburnu, 3 October 192614 The Atatürk statue in Sarayburnu erected by the Municipality of İstanbul, was the first publicly displayed monument and it reflected the Republican ideology. 15 After its inauguration Atatürk telegraphed the municipaliy saying: “I thank the citizens of Istanbul for the gratefulness they have shown by erecting a statue of me and for the noble feelings displayed on the occasion of the official inauguration.” German sculptor Rudolf Belling was different from the other sculptors invited to Turkey for a number of reasons. One of these was that Belling was one of the first sculptors in Germany to move to non 20  VOICE OF ATATÜRK | FALL’09

representational or abstract art. Unike the others Belling was fond of teaching sculpting and being an eduacational entrepreneur. Unlike the others he was being persecuted by the Nazis for his art and for his first wife having been Jewish. Among Belling’s works are two large statues that are very prominently displayed in Turkey. The Ismet Inönü Monument stands in the Garden of Ankara University’s Faculty of Agriculture. This equestrian statue of Inönü, originally designed to be erected at Taksim Square in Istanbul, was not placed there for fear that it might divert attention from the Monument to the Republic by the Italian sculptor Pietro Canonica. The latter stands at the very center of Taksim square, the historical center of Istanbul’s European side. In 1982, the Belling statue was placed in front of Inönü’s house at Istanbul’s Taşlık Park. Belling showing President Inonu a maquette for a sculpture that now stands in Macka Park, Istanbul. Rudolf Belling, Mounted Monument of İnönü, 1943-44 Belling and his sculpture students, Istanbul 1940

Many young Turkish sculptors began their careers influenced by their mentor, Rudolf Belling. Some of the most notable of Belling’s students were Hakki Atamulu, Yavuz Gorey, Kamil Sonad, Huseyin Gezer, Turgut Pura, Hussein Anka, and Ilhan Koman. They were the first generation of sculptors during the Republican Era. Despite the fact that a world war was raging all around Turkey in 1941, an international competition was organized to design Atatürk’s mausoleum. It was intended to be an architectural and sculptural complex befitting Atatürk as soldier, revolutionary, nation-buider, and statesman The works of famous Turkish artists can be seen throughout the memorial. There are majestic statues by Hüseyin Anka Özkan (1909-2001)19, reliefs by Zühtü Müridoglu (1906–1992), as well as Nusret Suman (19051978), and frescos by Tarik Leventoglu (? -1978), Mosaics, inspired by the colors and motifs of traditional carpets, can be found in the crown hall, so called because of all the gold leaves adorning the ceiling and the walls. Even the retaining walls beside the outside steps are decorated with reliefs by Ilhan Koman (1921-1986) . Koman depicted the Sakarya War 20 on the lower part of the relief he created and “Victory” on the upper part. Hüseyin Anka Özkan’s work for the Mausoleum is composed of two group sculptures in solid static style. The sculpture groups prepare the visitor to enter Atatürk’s lofty resting place with respect because they remind the visitor of the impact Atatürk had on all aspects of Turkish society. In one grouping, the figures of the intellectual and the soldier imply that the future is secured, led by those who value education with the strength of the army at their side. This monument shows the different types of Turkish people together. 21 Anka’s next grouping is more difficult to interpret. It appears that he symbolized fertility by the wreath held by two village women. The bowl in the hand of one gives the impressionof an altar and the construction is similar to a Greek temple. Pain and grief are intensely expressed here.

In addition to the two sculptures depicting groupings of individuals, there are twenty-four lions lying on slabs, lining the walkway that Anka also created. These lions represent power and silence. In terms of style and function, the lions are similar to Indian and Egyptian sculptures that feature the sphinx. Sphinxes placed at city gates of Indian and Egyptian cities to fend off the enemy allude to the strength of the ruler. Following that tradition, so do the lions at the Mausoleum.

The arts and the economy

For over four centuries, religion dictated what was considered culture in the Ottoman Empire. Culture was a non factor in the Ottoman economy, but all that changed when Turkey became a secular republic. Initially, as indicated as a matter of government policy, Turkey’s visual and performing arts were transformed and created by central and west European talent who supported the reforms and assisted in the development of a cultural infrastructure. What was created by these reforms grew from the strength of its own momentum. 22 The modernization and westernization of Turkey’s culture was intertwined with Atatürk’s nation-building agenda, but an unforeseen by-product of cultural development has been a tourism industry that not only fullfils that dream but is envied by countries worldwide. In order for this development to have taken place, the four hundred plus years of control that religion had over the country had to be broken. Although the process of cultural development was started and nurtured as an integral part of public policy, over time it has reached a self sustaining stage in both the public and the private sectors, thus impacting its own evolution. Aided and abetted by various levels and agencies of government, the policy has encouraged Turkey’s social and economic development. According to the United Nations World Trade Organization (UNWTO): “Cultural tourism forms an important component of international tourism in our world today.It represents movements of people motivated by cultural intents, such as study tours, performing arts, festivals, cultural events, visits to sites and monuments,

as well as travel for pilgrimages.” 23 A growing number of visitors are becoming special interest travelers who rank the arts, heritage and/or other cultural activities as one of the top five reasons for traveling. Worldwide international arrivals are forecast by the UNWTO to top 1 billion by 2010 and over 1.6 billion in 2020. 24 In addition to the year long art exhibitions in newly created museums and galleries, 25 in 2007, the International Istanbul Music Festival celebrated its thirty-fifth anniversary. The 2005-2006 season government statistics speak eloquently to the vibrancy of opera in Turkey. There were five opera and ballet halls operating in Turkey, having a total 3,860 seating capacity, one each in Ankara, Mersin, Mersin, Istanbul, and İzmir. They had 189 different performances, of which 85 were domestic and

104 were brought in from abroad with an attendance totaling 245,448. 26 While the function of the émigrés was to teach and help create various arts infrastructures, even Atatürk could not have foreseen the level of influence that these artists would have on the culture of the country. Nor could anyone in those early years of the Republic have imagined the impact that culture would have on the economy. According to the World Tourism Organization (WTO) Turkey earned $20.5 billion in 2008 from tourism. This translates to $2,847 on a per-capita basis.27 Turkey ranked 11th in terms of tourist arrivals and ninth in tourism revenues among the world’s top 20 tourism destinations according to its State Planning Organization (DPT)28 and cultural offerings are a major drawing card in Turkey’s tourist trade. w

REFERENCES 1. This article is based on: Reisman Arnold, Arts in Turkey: How ancient became contemporary (Charleston, SC: BookSurge Publishing. 2009) 2. The museum was opened in 1937 in the crown prince suites of the Dolmabahçe Palace by an express order of M.K.Atatürk. It was the first art museum in Turkey. The museums permanent collection contains the works of most of the famous Turkish painters starting with the end of the 19th century and what is known as the the “Military painters” school. The museum’s permanent collection has paintings by Seker Ahmet Pasa, Osman hamdi Bey, Halil Pasa, Sevket dag, Ibrahim Calli, Avni lifij, Cemal Tollu, Elif Naci, Turgut Zaim and other well known Turkish Painters. 3. That invitation from the government of Turkey saved Leopold Levy from what befell many French Jews under the Nazis. It also enabled aspiring artists to benefit from Levy’s creativity and expertise. <>. Viewed December 15, 2005. 4. 5. 6. The Nemrut Mountain is located South of Malatya (75km) or North of Kahta (50km), Adıyaman in SE Turkey. The statues were found in 1881 by Kral Sester, a German archeologist. In 1987, the Nemrut mountain was made a world heritage site by UNESCO. The sculptures shown are at the cone shaped summit of this 2,200m mountain. Among these are rather representartive sculptures of the mythical figures of Apollon, Zeus, Hercules and others. The statues are more than 2000 years old. Photo compliments Dr. Sezgin Aytuna, Ankara Turkey 7. Photo compliments Dr. Sezgin Aytuna, Ankara Turkey 8. Photo compliments Dr. Sezgin Aytuna, Ankara Turkey 9. Metin And, “Atatürk and the Arts, with Special Reference to Music and Theater,” in J.M. Landau ed., Atatürk and the Modernization of Turkey, (Boulder CO, Westview Press , 1984) pp 215-233. 10. Metin And, “Atatürk and the Arts, with Special Reference to Music and Theater,” in J.M. Landau ed., Atatürk and the Modernization of Turkey, (Bouldr CO, Westview Press , 1984) pp 228. 11. Umut Erhan, MD and Haldun Cezayirlioðglu, personal communication 26 February 2008. 12. Burcu Pelvanoğlu Sculpture in Public Places - From the Monument to Contemporary Arrangements of Space sergilereng/content.php?liste=H 14. 15. Although the first Turkish public statue installation was in Sarayburnu, the first idea to have a statue came from Konya through a request made to Atatürk by its sitting mayor Kâzım Bey for permission to create one. Gültekin Elibal, Atatürk ve Resim-Heykel, Türkiye İş Bankası Kültür Yayınları, İstanbul, 1973, s.197. 16. Gültekin Elibal, Atatürk ve Resim-Heykel, Türkiye İş Bankası Kültür Yayınları, İstanbul, 1973, s.194. 17. From Güzel Sanatlar Academisi, (Academy of Fine Arts), Yearbook, Istanbul 1937. Currently it is the Devlet Güzel Sanatlar Akademisi or the Istanbul State Academy of Fine Arts. 18. 19. Sculptors, Hüseyin Anka Özkan, and İlhan Koman were Rudolf Belling students at the time of the competition for the Mausoleum’s design. 20. The Battle of Sakarya or the Battle of Sangarios in 1921 was an important engagement in the Greco-Turkish War (1919-1922), a part of the Turkish War of Independence . The battle was fought during August 23 - September 13, 1921, close to the banks of Sakarya River and in the immediate vicinity of Polatlı, which is today a district of Ankara. 21. Murat Ural,“Anıtkabir’de Sanat ‘Büyük Acı’yı Estetiğe Dönüştürmenin Bilinci; Yalın ve İnsani”, Atatürk İçin Düşünmek. İki Eser: Katafalk ve Anıtkabir İki Mimar: Bruno Taut ve Emin Onat, İstanbul Teknik Üniversitesi Rektörlüğü Yayını, İstanbul, 1998, p. 101. 22. The musical and performing arts are discussed in Reisman Arnold, Classical European music and opera: The case of Post-Ottoman Turkey. (Charleston, SC: BookSurge Publishing. 2009) 23. Cultural Tourism and Poverty Alleviation - The Asia-Pacific Perspective, Madrid, Spain, UNWTO, 2005 24. Cultural Tourism and Poverty Alleviation - The Asia-Pacific Perspective, Madrid, Spain, UNWTO, 2005 p. 1. 25. See a book to be published in 2009: Reisman Arnold, Off the beaten path: Reclaiming industrial spaces for exhibiting fine arts in Istanbul. (Charleston, SC: BookSurge Publishing. 2009). 26. See Turkish statistical Institute’s “Culture statistics”, 27. It is interesting to note that archeologically similarly endowed and with a similar climate oil exporting Iran’s total GNP per-capita is $1,750; in Iraq it is $1, 050; in Egypt it is $1,350; and non oil endowed Islamic countries such as Morocco $1,200; and Syria $970. Significantly, Turkey’s tourism revenues exceed that of Iran’s total GDP by over $1,000 or by 57% per head. 28. Anonymous “Turkey ranks high in tourism revenue” ANKARA - Anatolia News Agency April 16, 2008


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A Campaign to Donate Books to Libraries

continued from page 17 Born from Hope which includes an interview with Mehmet Zaman Saclioglu; The Power of Innovation researched with Zehra Ipsiroglu; and lastly the book she co-authored with Sefik GÖRKEY titled To Be a Physician. While Türkan Saylan received many awards in her life, she was unable to attend the ceremony for her Honorary Doctorate Degree from the Bosphorous University due to her medical condition. Türkan Saylan who served as President of The Association for Contemporary Life ÇYDD, gained media attention when her home was searched during the 12th Ergenekon operation. Prof.. Dr. Türkan Saylan was 74 years old when we lost her. w AWARDS

“Atatürk Principles and Revolution Award” Istanbul University (1996), “Our Country’s Women of the Year Award” (1990), “Melvin Jones Award” (1991), “Atatürk Supporter Service Award” İncirli Lions (1996), “KUVAN to the National Award” Golden

Horn Rotary (1997), “Fahrettin Kerim Gökay Award” Turkish Lions Foundation (1997), “Turkey Farmers Union Solidarity Prize” (1998), “75th Year Award” Turkish Women’s Union Branch Şişli. (1998), “Uğur Mumcu - Muammer Aksoy Award” ADD Istanbul Branch (1999), “Rifat Ilgaz Cultural Center Honors” award (2000), “Foyer des Artistes Agency Award” Italy (2001), The long-term service and bringing lazar Patients’ perspective “Patients’ Rights Association, and the patient Yakın Year Award 2001”, “Atatürk Award” America / Atatürk Society (2001), “Art Institute Honor Award” (2002), “Atatürk / Modernity Award” World Atatürk Supporting Organizations (10 November 2003), “Outstanding Service Award” Yildiz Technical University (2004),

“Education Award” TED College, “Self-less service” principle of examples of behavior, “100th Years Professional Achievement Award” Rotary Club, “Human Rights Award” Izmir Karsiyaka Municipality (2004), “Turkey’s Best of Educators Award - Tempo Magazine (2004), University of Culture in Istanbul University between students and faculty members “The Courageous Woman of the Year Award” (2004), “Puduhepa Award” - Adana Kütür Art Association (2005), “Professional Services Award” Ankara Emek Rotary Club (October 2005), “Social Peace Prize” Peace Radio, “Human Rights, Democracy, Peace and Solidarity Award” - SODEV Social Democracy Foundation (2005), “Good Ol Heart Award” Turkish Heart Foundation (2006), “Successful Business Woman of the Year Award” World News (2006), “PULL Education Award”, Contemporary Education Cooperative (2006).


ASA Foundation to Support Contemporary Life (CYDD) Fundraising Drive


he Board of Directors of the Atat端rk Society of America (ASA) THANKS

the donors, including associations, who made generous contributions to help support the Foundation to Support Contemporary Life (CYDD). The education of young girls and building of dormitories is fundamental to the development of any democratic and contemporary society.

Voice of Ataturk  

The Atatürk Society of America

Voice of Ataturk  

The Atatürk Society of America