Turkish Professor Under Fire for Twitter Photo of Turkey’s Founder in Hell

Mustafa Karaaslan, an education official in Bursa, Turkey, has triggered national outrage after his Twitter account posted a picture of Turkey’s founding father Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in hell, presumably for being a secular leader, rather than an Islamist one.

The picture came “with a fabricated quotation with the leader’s signature.”

The Hurriyet Daily News Do not break your fast because of hot weather; it is even hotter here,” the caption read, just as Muslims’ holy month of Ramadan, where believers are expected to fast, began on June 18.

His bosses insist someone hacked his account.

“We have provided the ministry and our governor’s office with the necessary information,” explained Necdet Sezer, the deputy director of education in Bursa. “Our friend, who is also a victim in this incident, declared that his social media account was hacked and he has filed a criminal complaint.”

But some officials are not satisfied and want the governor to fire Karaaslan.

“We do not accept the disrespect displayed against the founder of this country,” declared Özkan Rona, the provincial head of the educators’ union Eğitim-İş. “We expect the governor of Bursa to remove this person as the district director given he demonstrated similar behavior before by insulting both Atatürk and İsmet İnönü [the second president of Turkey].”

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was born in 1881. His parents only gave him the name Mustafa. His math teacher found him to be brilliant and provided him the name Kemal, which means perfection. Atatürk joined the Young Turks and fought for Turkish independence in 1908. The revolution “stripped autocratic powers from” Sultan Abdülhamid II. Atatürk took up arms for the Ottoman army during World War I, but ultimately the Ottomans lost the war, ending the empire that lasted hundreds of years.

The allies stripped away all Arab provinces from the empire, but Atatürk put together another revolution to gain full Turkish independence. The army fought off the Greeks and Armenians and drove Europeans out of Istanbul. He signed the Treaty of Lausanne on October 29, 1923.

Atatürk became Turkey’s first president that day. He completely reformed Turkey to place it along the lines with other Western countries. A few examples include “a constitution that separated the government from religion,” favored the Latin alphabet over the Arabic, and used the Gregorian calendar.

He also introduced surnames during his presidency. He adopted Atatürk, which means “Father of the Turks.” No one else is allowed to use it.

Current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has, in many ways, worked to undo the secular reforms of the Atatürk era. However, Turkey embraced a cult of personality around Atatürk nonetheless. The government passed a law 13 years after his death to protect his image. In 2011, some Turks voiced opposition to these laws, but they remain intact.


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